Betty The Slave In New Jersey


“Betty of New Bridge, New Jersey, was born as a slave in the Paulison family near Hackensack, and lived there until she was emancipated in 1840. After that she lived in the family of James Paulson. Betty “retained a vigorous mind until near her death, and her recollections of Revolutionary times.  were very vivid. She died in 1871 at the age of 98.”

Courtesy of Bergen County Historical Society

Betty was from my home town.

“Bergen County developed as the largest slave holding county in the state. After the Revolutionary War, many northern states rapidly passed laws to abolish slavery, but New Jersey did not pass abolish it until 1804, and then in a process of gradual emancipation similar to that of New York. But, in New Jersey, some slaves were held as late as 1865. (In New York, they were all freed by 1827.) The law made African Americans free at birth, but required children born to slave mothers to serve lengthy apprenticeships as a type of indentured servant until early adulthood for the masters of their slave mothers. New Jersey was the last of the Northern states to abolish slavery completely. The last 16 slaves in New Jersey were freed in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment.” Wikipedia

Most New Jersey residents,(Bergen County in particular) were unsympathetic to the union cause and tried to remain neutral. Of predominantly Dutch heritage, they valued peace and tranquility above all things and felt they were good to their slaves who they often worked side by side with. Many slaves like Betty chose to remain in the families of their Dutch former masters.


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