Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name



African-American Studies


This study is an examination of the legal basis of slavery in New Jersey from 1665 to 1865. It traces the laws concerning slavery in the colony from the proprietor period until abolishment in 1865.

The purpose of this study is to show how slavery was legally developed in this northern state and to prove that slavery was more than a national issue, but was also a state issue.

New Jersey was cut in half on the issue of slavery for the same reasons that the country was split in half, which is why this study is so very important. Although no state of war took place, all the underlining issues surrounding slavery were present.

Slave labor was more profitable in East Jersey, with its large farms, than in West Jersey, where the farms were family operated. Since East Jersey tended to have more slave labor, it also passed more laws prohibiting the movement of slaves in an effort to discourage slave revolts.

The New Jersey Society for the Abolition of Slavery and the Society of Friends (Quakers), who tended to favor the abolition of slavery, were concentrated in West Jersey, where the need for slave labor was less prevalent.

The Quakers played a very large role in the enactment of anti-slavery laws and the gradual abolition of the institution of slavery in New Jersey.

Most of the research for this study was done at Stockton State College in Pomona, New Jersey the South Jersey reservoir for primary documents such as the Abstracts of Wills and advertisements. The New Jersey Archives located in Trenton, New Jersey, provided original copies of maps, pamphlets and the minutes of various groups and their constitutions. All the laws discussed in this study were found in the Atlantic Municipal Court Law Library in Atlantic City, New Jersey.