Examining one particular ship, the Sally, provided important insight into how the institution of slavery operated within the colonial community of Providence. Why the decrease? Newport, the colony's leading slave port, took an estimated 59,070 slaves to America before the Revolution. Though only a few Narragansett planters were large slave owners, historian Christy Clark-Pujara states that ultimately, “thousands of enslaved men, women, and children” in this area produced foodstuffs and raised livestock for trade. As England began to dominate commercial seafaring, in 1622 the king created what is commonly known as the “Board of Trade,” but whose official name remains to this day, almost 400 years later, “The Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations.” Put more simply, “plantation” was the business buzzword of the early 1600s culture of economic imperialism in which Coke and Williams were enmeshed. I covered her presentation and posted a full video recording for Motif (facebook.com/watch/live/?v=721721038645901). European traders traded products for African slaves, and then slaves traveled by ship to the country. On June 22, Gov. After the United States outlawed the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, many captives came to Louisiana from the Upper South through the domestic slave trade. British coloniesin the West Indies followed the existing pattern of Slave Plantations. So, does the phrase “Providence Plantations” explicitly refer to slavery? Currently, there are only plantations listed for Chicot County, Jefferson County, Ouachita County, and Phillips County. As many social media users and … By the 1860s, as the North grew into the world’s industrial powerhouse with factories, railroads, telegraph lines, and consequent wealth, the South remained trapped by its addiction to a feudal system that benefited a few who owned land and slaves but prevented the development of modernity and a middle class, and eventually those privileged few were desperate enough to preserve their own interests that they plunged the nation into a bloody civil war lasting four years, 1861-1865, with a cost of 600,000 lives lost. That’s a meaning of the … Coke was so influential that he was cited and quoted, 130 years after his death, by the American revolutionaries arguing the invalidity of the Stamp Act and writing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, the latter incorporating ideas first enunciated by Coke such as the right to remain silent and the right to be secure against warrantless searches and seizures. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Monday removing the phrase "Providence Plantations" from her administration’s communications. Williams bought a large tract of land from the Narragansett Indians, and in 1638 joined with twelve other settlers in forming a land company. The first of Brown’s buildings, University Hall (1770), which now houses the upper administrative offices, was built with enslaved labor donated by patrons of the University. This land was then used to create massive agricultural surpluses to ship to their countrymen in the West Indies. Then there’s the matter of who controls Rhode Island’s history. The smallest state has the longest official name: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. There are records of Narragansett slaves in Providence, Warwick, and “most notably, in South Kingstown, where a census in 1730 showed the community to hold 223 Narragansett slaves. In part because, during the American Revolution, the British offered freedom to any slave who could escape to their lines, an effort to sabotage the revolutionist economy. Launched by the Brown brothers (Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses) the brig the Sally was the first slave ship to depart directly from Providence. The use of the word “plantations” had nothing to do with, and predated, slavery in Rhode Island. The planter class made fortunes on the lucrative trade rooted in slavery, especially cheese exports. In time, they were largely forgotten. As I explained in a review of God, War, and Providence by James A. Warren (motifri.com/summer2018-nonfiction) —. These documents show the enormous amount of effort that went into outfitting a slave ship for a voyage to Africa. For example, historians have noted that the most common diet of slaves in the Southern states consisted of pork, rice and corn. Launched by the Brown brothers (Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses) the brig the Sally was the first slave ship to depart directly from Providence. As Raimondo stated in her Executive Order 20-48, “many of the State’s residents find it painful that a word so closely associated with slavery should appear in the official name of the State.” The current objection to the word “plantation” is based upon visceral upset, not history. By the dawn of the American Revolution, economic forces and rising abolitionist sentiment had put an end to Rhode Island’s slave plantations. In 1643/1644, the towns were combined under their current name into a single governmental entity by letters patent from the English Parliament. Process is the blog of the Organization of American Historians, The Journal of American History, and The American Historian, dedicated to exploring the process of doing history and the multifaceted ways of engaging with the U.S. past. Some of the tribes who sided with the settlers during the war acquired captives from the defeated tribes as slaves. The British colonists looked back helplessly with increasing alarm as the home country descended into civil war in the 1640s and the interregnum of the 1650s, and the neighboring settlements in Massachusetts and Connecticut saw the Rhode Island settlers as anarchist heretics and the native tribes as recalcitrant heathen savages. The German Coast, where Whitney Plantation is located, was home to 2,797 enslaved workers. so that society learns from it, acknowledges what has taken place and then moves on. On Aug 14, 1676, two days after King Philip (Metacom) was killed, effectively ending the war, a town meeting in Providence authorized a commission, including Roger Williams, to sell the captured natives into indentured servitude for limited numbers of years ranging from children under age 5 who would be freed at age 30 and those older than age 30 who would be freed after 7 years, technically not breaking the law against slavery then in effect, although it was clearly understood that many, especially those destined to be transported to the Caribbean, would be unlikely to survive long enough to reach freedom even if the terms were honored. But Coke, until he fell out of royal favor and spent the rest of his life in parliamentary opposition, was the ultimate establishment lawyer, serving as the king’s prosecutor against both Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes. When the parliamentary charter was finally replaced in 1663 by a royal charter, it recognized “our Island called Rhode Island and the rest of the Colonie of Providence Plantations.”. 35 Although there were about 4,400 blacks in Rhode Island in 1790, by 1800 the number of slaves was 384 and by 1840 only 5. We know a great deal about the Browns’ connection to the slave trade, due to the work of the 2003 Slavery & Justice Committee, formed by then President Ruth J. Simmons. Whether or not they change the name from Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to Rhode Island will be up to the citizens of the state to decide. Slaves owners also traded their slaves with other plantations if they wanted to. “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” has been the official full name of the state since the colonial era, created by the unification of the original “four towns,” which in order of their dates of founding were Providence (1636), Pocasset/Portsmouth (1638), Newport (1639), and Shawomet/Warwick (1642). Both the black and white population increased substantially during the 1700s, with the black population 9.1% in 1730, 9.3% in 1749, and 11.5% in 1755, about double that of other New England states. Source for information on Providence Plantations, Rhode Island … The percentage black population declined to 6-7% between 1774 and 1790. The Brown Family and the Slave Trade: The Voyage of the Sally ... corner of what has been named the “triangular trade,” by which slave-produced sugar and molasses from the Caribbean were carried to Rhode Island and made into rum. The traditional New England custom of “warning out” anyone poor and indigent so they did not become a public charge was practiced by many towns: in 1750, only 5% of those “warned out” were black, but this rose to 22% by 1790 and 50% by 1800; those exiled from towns were not strangers, as 37% had lived there for at least five years and 26% for at least 10 years. These had proven to be successful for the Spanish and Portuguese both in the Canary Islands and then in the Americas. Up until now, the Yankee elites have fostered a “self-image” of plantations in Rhode Island like those at Plymouth and Jamestown. The work of the Slavery & Justice report helped to encourage conversations about a painful past, and opened the door for many of the initiatives happening locally today. As I sit in my office at the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice at Brown University, the history and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade surrounds me. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the original Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. In the decade since the Slavery & Justice report was published, a flurry of initiatives and projects have reclaimed lost voices, uncovered how prominent families obtained their wealth, commemorated displaced communities of color, and developed programs about slavery and its legacies. The University’s connection to the slave trade is not exclusive to the Sally. The word “plantation” has come to be associated with Southern slavery, where first tobacco in the 1700s and later cotton in the 1800s were the cash crops that formed the basis of the entire regional economy, an agricultural engine entirely dependent upon vast quantities of slave labor, the larger operations requiring hundreds of enslaved people. Required fields are marked *. The plantations of Providence Plantations were built by settlers on stolen Indigenous land with the wealth made from profits of sales of enslaved Indigenous people. There was slavery in the colony by 1652: we know this with certainty because Rhode Island needed to outlaw it on May 18 of that year, limiting indentured servitude to a term of 10 years (or age 24 if started before age 14); the evidence is that this legal prohibition was widely ignored and never enforced, and regardless was superceded by a 1703 law that officially authorized slavery. However, it is undeniable that plantations eventually became slave-driven operations and having the word in the state's name celebrates the existence of the plantations when they were largely made successful on the backs of thousands of slaves.  =  Meanwhile, the settlers at Pawtuxet were also not getting along well with the other settlements. Using the Plantation model st… Bristol and Providence also prospered from it. Does it evoke, both through modern connotations of the word plantation and historical … Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This gradual emancipation was due in large part to the performance of slave and free African members of the First Rhode Island Regiment, who had distinguished themselves during the American Revolution. Although Rhode Island had slaves, the numbers were tiny compared to the rest of North America. The Ball family's plantations were among the oldest and longest standing in the American South, and there were more than twenty of them along the Cooper River, north of Charleston. More:Slavery in Rhode Island. While his brother Moses would become a public activist against the trade, he invested in the creation of local textile mills, which relied on slave picked cotton. As institutions across the nation are being forced to confront their history and think critically about diversity and inclusion today, we can look to the Slavery & Justice report as an important tool for learning more about our past so we can better understand our present, and work for a more humane future. The Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, formed out of a recommendation of the Slavery & Justice report, supports many of these community efforts, as well as scholarship around the history and legacy of slavery and public programs and exhibitions for the community. There have been efforts to drop the "Providence Plantations" before by those who say it evokes the legacy of slavery. Your email address will not be published. Some tribes, including the Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Narragansett, and Pocumtuck fought against the English settlers, while other tribes, including the Mohegan and Mohawk, fought with the English settlers. Prove that you are human * Several considerations probably motivated this action, including a desire to use proceeds from sales to compensate those, including Williams, who suffered property losses incurred in the destruction of the city, but also to avoid setting the captives free where they could, the settlers feared, resume the war. Officially, Rhode Island was incorporated as The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it declared statehood in 1790. Housed in the historic Cathedral of St. John, its origins can be directly linked to the DeWolf family whose wealth was based largely in the slave trade. The slave trade irritated the Quakers, who were the political force of our colony for almost 100 years prior to the War of Independence, who strongly believed that slavery was inhumane. In 1795, there were 19,926 enslaved Africans and 16,304 free people of color in Louisiana. Situated in the College Hill neighborhood on Providence’s East Side, Brown University is sandwiched between the Moses Brown School and the Rhode Island Historical Society’s John Brown House Museum, living monuments bearing the names of two brothers whose views on slavery came to vary greatly after their company sponsored a failed slaving venture. They pointed me in the direction of several antiquarian histories, which said about the same thing. .hide-if-no-js { It left for West Africa in 1764, the same year that the College of Rhode Island was founded (it would not be until 1804 that the College would change its name to honor a gift from later descendants of the Brown family). Slavery and the University: Reclaiming a Difficult History in Providence, Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project, Five Things I Wish I had Known at My First OAH, The Histories of Epidemics in the United States, Televising the Revolution: Turn’s Peggy Shippen Arnold, The Troubled History of American Education after the Brown Decision, Why the Portuguese Restoration of 1640 Matters to the History of American Slavery, The 1952 Olympic Games, the US, and the USSR, Organizing the Prisons in the 1960s and 1970s: Part One, Building Movements, The (African) American Missionary Movement in Africa in the Early Twentieth Century, Sleeping Soldiers and the War for the Mind. At the time of the formation of the Slavery & Justice Committee, then President Simmons told the New York Times: How does one repair a kind of social breach in human rights so that people are not just coming back to it periodically and demanding apologies…. Rhode Island never had large farms on the scale of slave plantations in the South, but it certainly did have slaves. These mills helped to spur the Industrial Revolution in Rhode Island, and many would manufacture “Negro Cloth” a rough material sold to plantation owners to clothe their slaves. While, this diet kept the slaves fed well, it denied them of a variety of nutrients. In time, they were largely forgotten. Examining one particular ship, the Sally, provided important insight into how the institution of slavery operated within the colonial community of Providence. The Providence Plantations were the first white settlements in Rhode Island. 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