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Slavery in Early Bergen County

Hopper Slave CemetaryFor almost 100 years, African Americans contributed significantly to life at The Hermitage. As slaves, African Americans were key to the economy of the Prevosts' "Gentleman's Farm," both before and during the Revolutionary War, and perhaps also for the Lane family in the 1760s. When Theodosia Prevost had the opportunity to travel to New York City during the Revolution under a white flag, she did so with a manservant who was probably an African American slave. As the friendship between Theodosia and Aaron Burr developed in the later years of the Revolution, Burr's personal slave, Carlos, was often at The Hermitage.

Even in involuntary servitude, at least some of these slaves were able to exercise some independence, as indicated by an advertisement published in 1774:


Run away from the house of Mark Prevost in Bergen County, on the 29 of September last, a negro man and his wife: the fellow is serious, civil, slow of speech, rather low in stature, reads well, is a preacher among the negroes, about 40 years of age, and is called Mark. The wench is smart, active and handy, rather lusty, has bad teeth, and a small cast in one eye; she is likely to look upon, reads, and writes and is about 36 years of age. She was brought up in the house of the late Mr. Shackmaple, of New London, and as she had a note to look for a master it is probable she may make a pass of it to travel through New-England. They took with them much baggage. Whoever takes up the said negroes and brings them to the subscribers, or gives such information t that they may be had again, shall be entitled to the above reward, or fifty shillings for either of them, to be paid by Mark Prevost, Archibald Campbell in Hackensack, or Thomas Clarke, near New-York. October 12, 1774.

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