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In this photo, yellow states represent free slave states and red represents slave states. Map:[Learner]
A Political Cartoon about Emancipation Proclamation. Cartoon:[E.P.]

Toward the end of the 18th century, the presence of slavery was disappearing from Northern States. Although slavery played a critical role in the economy of New York, New York eventually gave in to the pressures of other Northern States and their abolishment of slavery. The Gradual Emancipation Law of 1799 was the first legislative act that freed slave children born after July 4, 1799, but only when women reach the age of twenty-five and men, twenty-eight. Thus, no one was freed immediately. The purpose of this law was to gradually emancipate slaves without causing unrest among slave-owners. The law failed to free all slaves because slaves born prior to July 4, 1799 could live to as late as 1880s. Thus according to this law, the latest that slavery would be abolished would be in 1880s. Although no one was initially freed, it marked the beginning of the end for slavery in New York.

The Gradual Emancipation Law of 1817 was the second piece of abolition legislation passed in New York. This act built upon the 1799 legislation by declaring that any African American born before July 4, 1799 would become free on July 4, 1827. However, freedom came later at the age of twenty-one years for both men and women, or July 4, 1827. By precisely establishing a date in which the last slaves would be free, 1848, the law successfully abolished slavery in New York.

Although slavery was abolished, it did not mean African Americans had the same status as whites. African Americans would continue to suffer discrimination for over the next century. Even with Abraham Lincoln's official Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 for the whole Union, the prejudices against blacks remained. Equal rights were not fully attained until the Civil Movements of the 1960s.

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