By Judith Wellman
In 1966 a gaggle of scholars, Boy Scouts, and native electorate rediscovered all that remained of a then almost unknown group known as Weeksville: 4 body homes on Hunterfly highway. The infrastructures and colourful histories of Weeksville, an African American neighborhood that had develop into one of many biggest loose black groups in 19th century usa, have been almost burnt up as a result of Brooklyn’s exploding inhabitants and increasing city grid.
Weeksville was once based through African American marketers after slavery resulted in ny country in 1827. positioned in jap Brooklyn, Weeksville supplied an area of actual protection, monetary prosperity, schooling, or even political strength. It had a excessive price of estate possession, provided a wide selection of occupations, and hosted a comparatively huge share of expert employees, enterprise vendors, and execs. population equipped church buildings, a faculty, orphan asylum, domestic for the elderly, newspapers, and the nationwide African Civilization Society. remarkable citizens of Weeksville, corresponding to journalist and educator Junius P. Morell, participated in each significant nationwide attempt for African American rights, together with the Civil warfare.
In Brooklyn’s Promised Land, Judith Wellman not just tells the $64000 narrative of Weeksville’s development, disappearance, and eventual rediscovery, but in addition highlights the tales of the folks who created this group. Drawing on maps, newspapers, census documents, photos, and the cloth tradition of structures and artifacts, Wellman reconstructs the social historical past and nationwide value of this awesome position. throughout the lens of this area people, Brooklyn’s Promised Land highlights issues nonetheless proper to African americans around the country.
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Additional info for Brooklyn's Promised Land: The Free Black Community of Weeksville, New York
32 Beginning in 1887, the John Lefferts family sold much of their land in Flatbush for residential development. Nevertheless, Lefferts family members continued to live in the house built by Pieter Lefferts in Flatbush, whose descendents owned the land that would become Weeksville, until 1918, when the house was moved to Prospect Park. 33 In the context of rapid economic growth and expanding transportation systems in the 1830s, African Americans as well as European Americans had opportunities to make money through land investment.
Some of those enslaved illegally in New York State were brought as domestics; others were smuggled on slave ships directly from Africa. In late 1835, proving the widespread and blatant nature of the problem, Ruggles himself was captured and threatened with sale into slavery. Historian Carol Wilson noted that by 1837, “the kidnapping of free blacks had become so extensive that no free black person was safe. ”72 The Vigilance Committee assisted people through direct action— spreading the word about slave catchers in the city, providing safe houses for people needing refuge, taking offenders to court, publicizing cases in the newspaper, threatening mob action on behalf of fugitives, helping accused fugitives recover their property, and, if necessary, purchasing the freedom of accused fugitives.
They were very successful in getting the attention of sympathizers throughout the state. In 1840, after free-born James Watkins Seward was captured and enslaved in Louisiana, the New York State legislature passed a bill authorizing the governor of New York to send an agent to rescue those kidnapped and taken to other states. 73 Weeksville was established in this context of fear for the physical safety of African Americans, both individually and as a group. As a separate community, set apart from dense urban areas, Weeksville offered a retreat where African Americans, no matter their place of origin or legal status, could settle in relative safety and where slave catchers could not easily follow.