Rhode Island and the Slave Trade: BUYING AND SELLING HUMAN BEINGS
In the summer of 2020, where racial injustice is at the forefront of our nation’s concerns, several readers suggested that we republish Paul Davis’ 2006 Journal series “Unrighteous Traffick,” which discussed the history of slavery in Rhode Island.
Paul’s series shed considerable light on current debates. But it wasn’t accessible to current readers. Its very depth means that it’s also very, very long — 15 stories, many of which would take more than a page of newsprint to republish.
So instead, we are relaunching the series online, where it will be available to all Rhode Islanders to illuminate our current controversies for free. We hope it will also be a resource for schools, so that as Rhode Island discusses racial issues in the future, the conversation continues to be enlightened by knowledge of our past.
Abraham Redwood: Antigua and the West Indies Trade
Few Newport merchants knew more about sugar and slaves than Abraham Redwood.
Buying and Selling Human Beings: Newport and the Slave Trade
On sloops and ships called Endeavor, Success and Wheel of Fortune, slave captains made more than 1,000 voyages to Africa from 1725 to 1807.
An Education at Sea: Farm Boys and the Slave Trade
Slave ships leaving Newport tended to be smaller than their English competitors, and manned by smaller crews.
No Simple Truth: The Reverend MacSparran and his Slaves
The Rev. James MacSparran doted on his slaves -- and he beat them.
Newport Slave Traders: A List
The Newport merchants who trafficked in human cargo were among the town's richest residents.
Plantations in the North: The Narragansett Planters
While Newport merchants profited by trafficking in slaves, colonists across the Narragansett Bay found another way to grow rich.
South County: Plantation Houses
Plantation owners calculated a slave's working life to be about seven years.
Strangers in a Strange Land: Newport’s Slaves
Newport was the hub of New England's slave trade, and at its height, slaves made up one-fifth of its population.
Shipboard Revolt: Not an Unusual Occurrence
About 100 leagues off the west coast of Africa, the Newport slave ship Little George bobbed in the darkness.
1 Boye Slave Dyed: The Terrible Voyage of the Sally
The first ship to leave Providence for Africa was sent by James Brown in 1735, but only a smattering of ships departed from that port before the Revolutionary War.
Brown vs. Brown: Brothers go head to head
In 1770, the Rev. Samuel Hopkins preached his first sermon against slavery and the slave trade, calling them terrible sins.
The Rhode Island Slave Trade: A Reading List
The following secondary sources were used for The Unrighteous Traffic, Rhode Island and the Slave Trade.
Living Off the Trade: Bristol and the DeWolfs
Rhode Island outlawed slave trading in 1787, but it didn't stop the trafficking.
Slave Traders in the Family: Probing a Dark Past
Burned out by social work in Washington, D.C., she sought refuge in a seminary school overlooking San Francisco Bay.
Rhode Island and the Slave Trade: Teaching the truth
When Kristin Hayes teaches slavery, she shows her students a colorful mural depicting a white man on a horse overseeing bare-chested slaves toiling in a field.
Our Hidden History: A new effort to examine race and ethnicity
An ongoing discussion of racial justice, slavery and Rhode Island’s history by contributors to the Providence Journal