Originally, state education officials envisioned a guide that would document how kindly New Yorkers helped runaways flee the South via the Underground Railroad. But [Alan Singer] and others felt such an upbeat portrayal would reinforce beliefs that slavery was a Southern institution abhorred by New Yorkers. They called for a more hard- hitting curriculum that dealt with the reality that slavery was a New York institution.
Profits from the slave trade continued to enrich New Yorkers long after state legislation in 1799 mandated the gradual end of slavery here. Fortunes made from slave profits later helped finance the Long Island Rail Road, the American Sugar Co. and Citibank, according to the Hofstra curriculum.
Even after slavery ended here, it continued to underpin New York's economy. Investments in shipping and Southern plantations enriched New York banks and brokerage houses, said George Washington University historian James O. Horton. And cotton, sugar, tobacco and other slave products provided jobs for factory workers, warehousemen, stevedores, and immigrant day laborers.