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Date Published2013
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Posted Jan 08, 2014
Category: Biography
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Lauren Acampora will be joining us in person at the Friars's Club to discuss THE WONDER GARDEN on September 21st!   From the author's website (www.laurenacampora.com):   "In her stunning debut The Won...
Synopsis

The Manor is the biography of a uniquely American place that has endured through wars great and small, through fortunes won and lost, through histories bright and sinister—and of the family that has lived there since its founding as a New England slave plantation three and a half centuries ago. It is a historical narrative that tells the story of slavery, emancipation, racism, prejudice and silent prejudice in New England through a single piece of land.


Discussion will be held here ONLINE today - February 26th at 1:00 p.m. EST

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  •  Fred wrote 1612 Days Ago (negative) 
     
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    I can't believe that it took until 1827 to outlaw slavery in NYS!
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1609 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hey Fred, you are not alone in not knowing that slavery lasted so long in New York. White people hung on to their "property" as hard as they could....
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1609 Days Ago (negative) 
     
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    I can't tell you how sad this book has made me, eg, "Into the dish goes the black hoof as freely as the white hand."
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1609 Days Ago (negative) 
     
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    I grew up on Long Island in the 50s, spent time on Shelter Island and never knew. How could this be? Joanne Klein
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thank you - Mac Griswold - for taking the time to "chat" with us about your deeply researched and devastating account of slavery on Long Island.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I am intrigued by the extent of your efforts in compiling the history of The Manor. You make the reader feel as if we are with you in your travels. It seems to be a very personal account of the people involved throughout the years. How did you capture the events and the people in such fine detail - without having lived through the time period you write about?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Were there slaves on Gardner's Island?
     
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  •  Dana_Charlton wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Although I have just begun to read your fascinating book, it evokes Jack Finney's novel "Time and Again" where the main character goes back in time to the 1800s. He goes back again & again, as you were able to do visiting the Manor, but your visits were to a real place with real people. Did you ever have the sensation that you actually were there in any of the preceding segments of time?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Was there a station on the "Underground Railroad" on Shelter Island? Isabel Wright
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Mac, Thank you for joining our book club today. Very interesting history - having grown up on Long Island I was quite surprised.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You really did a great deal of research for this book.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1608 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Did the owners exhibit any remorse?
     
       
     
     
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  •  MitchTobol wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What kind and how much research did you need to do to be able to write this book?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Another forgotten subject which you bring to light was the slavery of the Indians and Irish. We're they specifically freed too? Russell Ross
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I was also very interested in the Native American history you spoke about.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Is there any record of Sylvester fathering any children (like Jefferson and Sally Hemmings)?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Being a gardener I was intrigued with any reference to the ancient shrubs and trees and the clues they revealed about life on The Manor
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hey gotham I am so sorry to be late in joining this great discussion!
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred, your picking up on that comment about the black hoof and the white hand gave me the shudders and that is why I put it in. But it's worth reflecting that the farmers of Connecticut were apparently less racist than we might have thought—they were OK with having the Africans and African Americans who worked in their fields and alongside them in their houses sit next to them at the table and eat the same food. In my view racism as a matter of black and white wasn't fully formulated in all its ugliness until the 19th century, as I'm sure you found when you read on to the chapter about the creepy
    charles Morton of Philadelphia and his skulls...
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred, again to you: Until war actually came in 1861, the North wasn't very interested in fighting to free the slaves. When they did enter the conflict, they did so to preserve the Unioin—just as Lincoln did. After the war—you know history is always being revised to suit the current need (and I bet in some respects I'm no different but I don't know that YET!)—after the war, the North forgot about the slavery that had permeated society. As if it had never existed. Slavery became the skeleton in the attic, if you will
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Julie, it's a pleasure to be here, even though I'm so late joining you. Your comment and everyone's are so heartfelt and interesting.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What was most surprising to you as you uncovered the research, piece by piece?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Yes there was never a mention of slavery at all on Long Island, that is what so revealing about the book.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Julie, I wanted to smell the smells, feel the textures, hear the sounds of daily speech in places and times that very far from our own. How to do that? My usual answer: go to where it happened, read between the lines, talk to scholars and others who have really done the research and deep thinking necessary, then reboot and write! If you look at spelling in old documents, for example, it will tell you what people sounded like when they spoke because they spelled the way it sounded....
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1607 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Mac: Great book. Very interesting to me as I am a Long Islander and never knew anything about this topic. Thank you for enlightening us and joining the book club today.
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, anonymous! I hate to tell you that I started the research in 1997—learning to transcribe 17th century handwriting from documents in a vault in the house at Sylvester Manor—and with a few stops and starts—and a book contract in 2001—the book finally came out in July of last year, 2013.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Yes, I appreciated the spelling and could almost hear their language.

     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    So you gave over 15 years to researching and writing this book. There were so many details and aspects to follow.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1607 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Your book has had a profound effect upon my humanity. The section where the slaves experienced fixed melancholy and refused to eat imagining if they died they would go to another land where riches, honor and splendor will not be lacking. Where there will be an abundance of everything bothered me more than "12 Years a Slave". Well done! A movie?
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hey John Buscarello, I was surprised too—I started to come out to Long Island in the '60s for the beaches and the weekends—but in 1984 when Andy Fiske told me about slaves who had lived in the attic, I was pretty surprised. And then to discover slavery had flourished everywhere on Long Island.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    When the North Shore Reads group gets together in April to discuss this book - do you plan to attend the event? People at my local library (The Bryant Library in Roslyn) are looking forward to participating.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Yes I agree with 12 years a Slave just out the book had a strong impact on me.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Anonymous, maybe you are also Joanne Klein, I have lectured a fair amount about the book, but I don't think it's been picked up for any course adoptions or at least I haven't heard of any. I didn't really write it as a teaching tool but rather as a book that was easy to read but (I hoped) deeply absorbing.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred: Slaveowners in general and in particular on Shelter Island didn't exhibit any remorse that I've been able to find, directly expressed as "remorse." Actions did sometimes speak louder than words, but only in particular cases: read about Comus Fanning and Sylvester Dering and Charles Dering!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I wonder if I would have bought into the social structure of the day..... It's pretty easy to judge from such a distance. Joanne
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi MitchTobol, every kind of research, from eating samp, to hearing a guy sing a psalm to a tune composed in the early 16th century in Amsterdam, to checking out the Friends' Library in London—very moving place—to visiting Ghana and Barbados.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Mitch, I forgot to say it was all great. Research much easier than writing!
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Anonymous and John Buscarello: Indian slavery was supposedly against the law as early as the 1670s, but in fact a look through Long Island wills shows you how often Indians were bequeathed. The Irish slaves were sold as slaves captured in a just war (Cromwell's awful invasion of Ireland) and usually given set terms, more like an indenture, to work out. Because they were whiteskinned it was, of course, easier to escape from slavery. For Indians who had lost their land as well as their freedom and their tribal organizations it was much harder, but the condition they were reduced to at the end of the 18th century has now rebounded and some Indian tribes, as you know, have been recognized as the nations they really are. Read John Strong, professor at Southampton College, who has written extensively about Long Island's Indians, then and now.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Fred, so far there's no trail leading to black descendants of Nathaniel Sylvester, but I will say I was very surprised on Barbados, where Nathaniel Sylvester's brother had those big plantations, to find hundreds of Sylvesters listed in the local phone book. What can I say.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi anonymous who loves trees and shrubs—me too, as I am a garden historian by trade. I think landscapes never lie, they always tell you something about their makers and their times. From the ancient boxwoods and the yield of cherries so heavy they had to bring people over from Southold to Shelter Island as pickers, to the organic crops being grown and harvested by people who are freely employed at the manor, each plant tells a tale.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Anonymous, with the question about Gardiners Island, yes is the answer. Everyone who could afford to buy a person, to own a person as chattel, did so. I can't tell you anything about conditions on Gardiners Island except it was the same mix of people in the early days: imported Africans, indentured Irish and other whites, who served terms, and Indians, especially the Montaukets.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm hoping that you attend North Shore Reads in April.... Joanne
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Indian Slavery was the biggest revelation to me…really never thought about it nor thought it existed.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    We live in a house that was built in the late 1600s. I'm wondering what you could learn from our landscaping --
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Dana, I must read Finney, thanks. Yes, sometimes I would "time travel" (though I don't really "believe" in it, if you know what I mean). Usually being catapulted back into another period happened when I heard something or felt a specific sensation. When I walked under the arch of St. James Clerkenwell in London and heard my own footsteps I KNEW Grizzell Sylvester had done the same. When I heard the cane rustle on Barbados, ditto, there I was. Smelling the dusty attic at the manor, I was hit by the people who had spent time there. Seeing the hawthorns white against the green trees on the North Peninsula made me run across the land bridge, scoop up a handful of dirt where someone might have grown "six rows of corn in the Negro garden." But the real work of researching and writing history only comes when you try to connect sensation with evidence, and resist going on beyond it. I tried to make every word true.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thank you for joining us today. Most interesting book. Struck a deep chord with me.
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Isabel Wright, no, as far as anyone can tell, there was no Underground Railroad traffic on Shelter Island. Sag Harbor, just across the Peconic Bay to the South, evidently yes. Eastville Historical Society can help you....
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi Mac. We appreciate your time and thoughtful responses here today. Our group is grateful for the opportunity to chat with you. Thanks so much!
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Joanne, where is North Shore Reads? I'm sorry I didn't answer sooner—country liven''! Dog went out and found a big fat horse dropping to eat....emergency! Onward: I was very proud that the Long Island libraries chose THE MANOR for Long Island Reads, and I'm doing a lot of events. Which library is North Shore, give me a little more info and I'll tell you if I'm scheduled to do that
     
       
     
     
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  •  MacGriswold wrote 1607 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    John Buscarello, thanks for reading. Our history is everywhere around us.
     
       
     
     
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