Elizabeth Freeman.

How Two Massachusetts Slaves Won Their Freedom — And Then Abolished Slavery

What today's activists can learn from their victories.
Illustration of grave robbing

Body Snatchers of Old New York

In the 1780s, medical schools used cadavers stolen from the cemeteries of slaves.
Cutouts of Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant in front of slave quarters.

Unraveling Ulysses S. Grant's Complex Relationship With Slavery

The Union general directly benefited from the brutal institution before and during the Civil War.
USCT flag depicting a Black soldier next to a white woman symbolizing the United States.

USCT Kin’s Generational Battle for Equality

Paid less than their white counterparts, Black men in the United States Colored Troops fought for the Union and the future of their families.
Painting of a pond surrounded by lush vegetation.

A Paradise for All

The relentless radicalism of Benjamin Lay.
For most of her 74 years, Ruth Ann Hills took a certain innocent pride in her family’s story and its place in Staten Island history.  Generations of her family had resided in Mariners Harbor on the island’s North Shore. She and her brother David Thomas live in the house their grandfather built on Van Pelt Avenue. They had found Black ancestors on Staten Island as far back as the 1700s, and incredibly they had all eluded slavery.  Or so Hills thought.   All of that changed one day in 2021, when Hills received a visit from a filmmaker. Heather Quinlan was working on a documentary about a nearby graveyard. Over the course of her genealogical research, Quinlan had discovered that one of the people buried there was Hills’ great-great-great-grandfather.  Neither Hills nor Thomas had ever heard of the man, Benjamin Prine, but his death in 1900 at the age of 106 had been covered by the New York Times and the wire services. Prine, a U.S. veteran of the War of 1812, had been the last enslaved person born on Staten Island, Quinlan told them.  A photograph of a man, seated, holding a cane. The photograph has a long caption beneath, that is headlined "THEY CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME." Hills' and Thomas' great-great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Prine.  Staten Island Historical Society. Prine had once been enslaved by Peter Van Pelt, a highly influential Dutch Reformed Church minister – meaning that the street on which the siblings now live took its name from the same white family that enslaved their ancestor.  “I thought I was a big history buff. ‘Oh, I know about history,’” Hills said. “I guess I was naive.”  A crosswalk scene underneath two large street signs that both read "Van Pelt Av." The intersection of Van Pelt Avenue and Forest Avenue on Staten Island. Reece T. Williams/Gothamist

How the Remains of Formerly Enslaved People Came to Rest Beneath a Staten Island Strip Mall

Benjamin Prine's descendants didn’t know about their family ties – or their connection to his enslaver.
Black preacher giving an antislavery sermon to an integrated audience.

Baptists, Slavery, and the Road to Civil War

Baptists were never monolithic on the issue of slavery, but Southern Baptists were united in their opposition to Northern Baptists determining their beliefs.
Black-and-white photograph of black students sitting in a classroom at the Tuskegee Institute.

The Complicity of the Textbooks

A new book traces how the writing of American history, from Reconstruction on, has falsified and illuminated our racial past.
Picture of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

On Abraham Lincoln’s Convoluted Plan For the Abolition of Slavery

Although he did not openly endorse every one of the many precepts of the antislavery Constitution, Lincoln framed his positions entirely within its parameters.
Drawing of building on fire, with crowd outside

Many Tulsa Massacres

How the myth of a liberal North erases a long history of white violence.

The Revolutions

Ed Ayers visits public historians in Boston and Philadelphia and explores what “freedom” meant to those outside the halls of power in the Revolutionary era.

Higher Education's Reckoning with Slavery

Two decades of activism and scholarship have led to critical self-examination.

Who Freed the Slaves?

For some time now, the answer has not been the abolitionists.
Harriet Beecher Stowe imagining her characters.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the Art of Persuasion

Stowe’s novel shifted public opinion about slavery so dramatically that it has often been credited with fuelling the war that destroyed the institution.