Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Philadelphia and Its People in Maps:
The 1790s

Slaves and Slave Owners

map showing slaves and slave owners

Map Copyright 2012, Paul Sivitz and Billy G. Smith, published with permission.

In 1780, Pennsylvania became one of the first states to pass a gradual emancipation law. A decade later, federal census takers recorded 301 slaves in urban Philadelphia, and that number continued to decline rapidly throughout the 1790s. As this map shows, slavery helped create a racially integrated city, at least as measured by residential patterns. Slave owners spread widely, with a slightly heavier concentration of them south of Market Street. Most black bound people lived in stables, attics, or basements, or occupied small out-of-the-way rooms in their owner’s home.

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