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‘The Slaves Dread New Year’s Day the Worst’: The Grim History of January 1

A circa 1830 illustration of a slave auction in America.

Americans are likely to think of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as a time to celebrate the fresh start that a new year represents, but there is also a troubling side to the holiday’s history. In the years before the Civil War, the first day of the new year was often a heartbreaking one for enslaved people in the United States.

In the African-American community, New Year’s Day used to be widely known as “Hiring Day” — or “Heartbreak Day,”

Read on from Time Magazine

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