Highlights from the Gates Collection of African American History and Culture
Authorization to Manumit a Slave
Transcript of second page of document: "We the undersigned devisees of the estate of Coertland Van Beuren, deceased, late of the Town of Brooklyn in the County of Kings, for divers good causes and considerations, do hereby consent to and authorize the executors of the said estate to manumit and make free Pompey, a male slave aged about twenty one years, now belonging to the said estate of the said Coertland Van Buren, deceased.
"Witness our hands and seals this fifteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty."
Maria Van Beuren
Samuel Van Beuren
Adeline Van Beuren
Egbert Van Beuren
This manumission is signed by the devisees of the estate, the seven Van Buren children, whom ranged in age from 16 to 34. The manumission of slaves in northern states became increasingly common in the early nineteenth century, in part due to the social climate and in part due to the changing economic patterns of the region. Abolitionist groups such as the Manumission Society encouraged private slave-owners to formally release slaves for moral reasons. These groups succeeded in passing the New York Emancipation Law in 1799, which allowed for the gradual emancipated of children born to slaves thereafter. It seems that Pompey, “aged about 21 years,” was born just prior to the passage of this law. However two decades later, it likely became socially unacceptable for the Van Buren children to keep a slave after the death of their father.