Antislavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley

An Interview with Peter Bunten of the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project

In our last installment of Relearning Highlands History, we introduced People Not Property and stories of enslavement in the colonial Hudson Valley. We learned that New York had more enslaved people than any place north of Maryland, and was one of the last colonies to abolish slavery in 1827. This history of slavery has shaped the landscape we live in—and work to protect—today.

This month, we pick up where People Not Property leaves off and turn to the antislavery movement in the Hudson Valley. Earlier this fall, our Natural Resources Manager, Nicole Wooten, was lucky enough to interview Peter Bunten, chairman of the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project. The organization, based in Dutchess County, researches and communicates the history of slavery, antislavery and abolitionist activity in the mid-Hudson Valley region, which includes the Hudson Highlands.

In this wide-ranging interview, Peter gives us a fresh look at how slavery fits into the history of the Hudson Valley, and talks about the rise and successes of the antislavery movement here. Peter also shares the moving stories of some of the people that were instrumental in the antislavery movement, like John Bolding, who escaped slavery in the South and settled in Poughkeepsie, and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker who was an advocate for both antislavery and women’s’ voting rights. He also highlights the supposed role the Hudson Highlands played in the Underground Railroad along the route to Canada.

The full interview with Peter can be viewed below or on our YouTube channel. It is divided into three sections:

  • PART 1: Introduction to Slavery in New York, beginning at 0:05
  • PART 2: The Antislavery Movement in the Mid-Hudson Valley, beginning at 13:25
  • PART 3: Stories of Slavery and Antislavery from the Hudson Highlands, beginning at 21:40

Our sincere thanks to Peter for sharing his vast knowledge and fascinating insights with us!

You can learn more from Peter’s interview with the Highlands Current earlier this year, or the two publications by the Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project: Slavery, Antislavery, and the Underground Railroad: A Dutchess County Guide and 36 Antislavery Songs.

Photo credits: Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project