In the period before 1850, free blacks in New York City had voted either for the Federalists, and subsequently the Whigs, or for some third party, but never for the Democratic Party. Earlier reference has been made to the fact that the Federalist Party, composed of wealthy merchants and landowners, had been largely responsible for the passage in 1799 of New York’s Gradual Emancipation Act. In the early 1800’s, this group continued to remain in the front ranks of those seeking to better the condition of blacks. Yet the support blacks gave to this party, it will be recalled, unfortunately resulted in the movement which led to their being generally disfranchised.