How well do you remember United States colonial history? The basics are just about all that I recall, that is until I began doing some genealogy research. In the early days of the Europeans discovery of this country, the Dutch were early settlers. They landed on the coast (1624) and named it New Netherlands, a portion of the colony flourished on an island,which became known as New Amsterdam. It was the Dutch that traded trinkets for possession of the island from the Indians. There was an influx of English immigrants that settled on a portion of the island, who named their area Gravesend. Gravesend, as most of the island, was agrarian at the time.
Ben Affleck has been in news of recent, for something other than movies. It seems that the Sony computer hackers discovered and released information that Mr. Affleck muscled a PBS show “Finding Your Roots” into not releasing that his ancestors were slave owners. I was shocked, not that his ancestors had owned slaves, but that he wanted to hide the facts. Mr. Affleck now apologizes for something ancestors, whom he never met, did years ago.
In 1664, the Dutch Colonies, were transferred to the English and New Amsterdam became New York City. The area of Gravesend, which included Coney Island sits within the borough now known as Brooklyn. I had ancestors in Gravesend at that time. Interestingly, had become the third largest property owners, with about eight agrarian acres. My ancestor apparently had lost his wife prior to the 1698 census, since she was not listed there upon. The census did indicate that my ancestor John Sr. owned four slaves. Facts are facts, and I’m not inclined to hide that information. Be that as it may, this country has corrected that onus, whose shadow however, seems to continually hover over us.
Sorry Mr. Affleck, yours is not the only family who owned slaves hundreds of years ago. It’s not prideful or shameful, it just was. That why the future must learn from the past.