We became New York when English took over control of the colony from the Dutch in 1664, giving the inhabitants a legal code the Duke’s Laws of 1665, covering most aspects of life, including slavery, and equating slave ownership with property.
Under the Dutch, slavery was unofficial, practiced by custom and usage. As an English colony, slavery was now engraved in New York’s statute books, where it would remain for over 150 years—ironically, long after England itself had abolished slavery in the mother country.
Sadly, the only glimmer of humanity in the Duke’s Laws came in the form of an admonition to those who would “Tyrannically and Cruelly abuse their Servants.”
Under English rule, slavery in New York grew into an even bigger enterprise. In 1650, New Netherland had about 500 slaves, outnumbering those in Virginia and Maryland. By 1698, the number grew to over 2,000, and by 1746, to over 9,000. New York had the largest slave force in any English colony north of Maryland, accounting for over a third of total immigration passing the Port of New York.
 A renowned historian remarked: “That New York was not a slave state like Carolina is due to climate, and not the superior humanity of its founders.” George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, Vol. I (1883), 513. In New York, slaves were not sought for work in factories, in contrast to Southern agricultural growth. Leo H. Hirsch, Jr., The Slave in New York, 16 Journal of Negro History 4 (October 1931): 384.
For a compilation of slavery laws in colonial New York, see John C. Hurd, The Law of Freedom and Bondage in the United States, Vol. I (1858), 277.
 See, Edgar J. McManus, A History of Negro Slavery in New York (1966), 25.
According to one commentator nearly 40% of all households in New York City owned slaves in 1698, the year of the first provincial census. Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863 (2003), 41.
An Act for Regulating Slaves, passed by the General Assembly of the Colony of New York, 1702. Courtesy of Hathi Trust/University of Michigan
Photoengraving of New York City’s slave market in 1730, published in 1902. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library
Print depicting residents of New Amsterdam pleading with Peter Stuyvesant to surrender New Amsterdam to the British, who are waiting in the harbor to claim the territory for England, published c. 1932. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZC4-12217