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In The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage, John Harris looks at how the City became one of the last major hubs for the illegal transatlantic slave trade, in the 1850s and ‘60s. Long after the oceanic business was outlawed by every major slave-trading nation, merchants were sending hundreds of ships from American ports to the African coast. The key instigators were traders who moved to New York City after the shuttering of the massive trade in Brazil. These traffickers were determined to make lower Manhattan a key hub in the illegal trade with Cuba. Collaborating with allies in Africa and Cuba, they ensnared around two hundred thousand men, women, and children. Harris explores how the U.S. government went from ignoring, and even abetting, this illegal trade to helping to shut it down completely in 1867. Gunja Sengupta, author of From Slavery to Poverty: The Racial Origins of Welfare in New York, 1840-1918, joins for this conversation.

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The Gotham Center is the only academic institution devoted to advancing scholarly and public understanding of New York Cityu2019s rich and living past. The organization provides a host of programs inu00a0research and public education, and is sponsored by The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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