Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Michael l Blakey

Committee Member

Neil Norman

Committee Member

Joseph Jones

Committee Member

Paul Teed


During the 18th century, New York City was developing rapidly, and it required a significant source of labor to keep pace. The solution, like the century before, was to increase the forced migration of enslaved Africans. The growth in this population, as one would expect, needed a system of control that would maintain the status of the growing English mercantile class. An intricate system of violence evolved various physical, structural, and cultural components to accomplish this goal. This research sheds light on this system of control. Using Galtung's theoretical construct, the Triangle of Violence, this research revisits the fracture data from the African Burial Ground pathology database along with available historical documentation of New York colonial statutes, Common Council ordinances, and newspaper advertisements. The goal was to determine how the three types of evidence reflected the changing level of violence directed towards the city's enslaved African population. All four of these sources provided information about the interplay between the physical, structural, and cultural forms of violence and how they reflected the growing tensions and hostility of free colonists after the century's significant historical events. The evidence suggests that structural and cultural violence reached its peak during the middle of the century, and physical violence culminated towards the end (post-1776). This phase accounts for the highest overall fracture and perimortem fracture rates for the population. It also includes the most individuals exhibiting three or more perimortem fractures. Strong evidence that interpersonal violence increased for the African Burial Ground population after 1776. This evidence is collaborated by the targeted analyses of evidence regarding mechanical stress, non-specific infection, and nutritional inadequacy. While exhibiting variation through the century, all generally increase in severity in the later phase. All indicators that environmental insults, physical, political, social, and cultural, increased over the century for the African Burial Ground population.


© The Author