Slavery and Servitude in the Colonies

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Did northern states in America ever have slaves or plantations?

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In order to answer this question, it is first necessary to establish what a "northern state" is. The most common way to differentiate northern and southern states is the Mason-Dixon line. States above this line are considered northern states. These states include Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, among others. All of these states allowed slavery at the time the US was founded and maintained this allowance through the Articles of Confederation and the ratification of the Constitution. Pennsylvania began to outlaw slavery in 1780, though several thousand slaves were still legally held in Pennsylvania by 1790. By the early 1800s, only Massachusetts and Vermont held no slaves, and all the other states in the US had at least a small population of slaves.

Several of the states that remained in the Union during the Civil War also held slaves, namely Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky. Slaves were also held in the area of West Virginia at the time it seceded from Virginia.

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