Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
“Everybody’s Got a Little Light under the Sun”: The Making of the Book of Negroes
Working with treaties, letters, government documents, maps, memoirs, and fugitive slave advertisements as primary source data, chapter 2 examines arbitration hearings that took place at Fraunces Tavern in New York City between fugitive slaves who sought to be included in the Book of Negroes and those who claimed them as escaped property at the end of the American Revolution. The Book of Negroes is an eighteenth-century ledger that lists three thousand self-emancipating former slaves who embarked mainly on British ships during the British evacuation of New York after the War of Independence. As such, this ledger serves as an important record of pre-Confederation black arrivals in Canada. This chapter also discusses the surveillance of black mobilities by examining lantern laws, which were ordinances in New York City that compelled black, mixed-race, and indigenous slaves to carry small lamps if in the streets after dark and unescorted by a white person.