Not only did Rhode Islanders have slaves—they had more per capita than any other New England state—but they also entered with gusto into the trade. [4] Early University records reveal that many contributors to the endowment had also earned their money through the slave trade. In 1644, Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport united for their common independence as the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, governed by an elected council and president. This shifted in the 18th century as New England colonists gained access to international African slave markets and sought to violently purge Native people from their lands, according to Clark-Pujara and Newell. 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). But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! In 1638, Anne Hutchinson, William Coddington, John Clarke, Philip Sherman, and other religious dissidents settled on Rhode Island after conferring with Williams, forming the settlement of Portsmouth which was governed by the Portsmouth Compact. The use of the word “plantations” had nothing to do with, and predated, slavery in Rhode Island. In other words, Rhode Island itself has as much culpability in the history of slavery as Providence Plantations. The colony of Rhode Island once had the highest percentage of enslaved people in New England, and was a dominant player in the global slave trade. The University’s connection to the slave trade is not exclusive to the Sally. Western slavery was motivated by economics - people were enslaved to provide a cheap and disposable workforce on plantations. Shana Weinberg is the Assistant Director at the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice (CSSJ) at Brown University. These had proven to be successful for the Spanish and Portuguese both in the Canary Islands and then in the Americas. Myth #2: The South seceded from the Union over the issue of states’ rights, not slavery. Supporters of the proposed name change want to drop “Providence Plantations,” claiming the name conjures up images of slavery. It begins: The King of England granted Gorton a separate charter for his settlement in 1648, and Gorton named the settlement Warwick in honor of the Earl of Warwick who had helped him obtain it. “Most of the general public in the U.S. has no understanding of the very long history of slavery in the northern colonies and the northern states,” says Christy Clark-Pujara, a professor of history and Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island. It was even illegal in America during slavery for white men to have sex with black women, but everyone knows that happened. Additionally, the newly formed Center for Reconciliation seeks to tell the role of the Episcopal Church in the slave trade through public programs and exhibitions. Many of us today have a more vivid image of American slavery than we have of life as it was for British-owned slaves on the plantations of the Caribbean. Newport, the colony's leading slave port, took an estimated 59,070 slaves to America before the Revolution. This isn't the first time the state has attempted to change its name: When the state tried in 2010, 78% of voters opposed the removal of "Providence Plantations." “At the time, Providence Plantations had nothing to do with slavery or any of the connotations that it has today,” Carcieri said then. The National Park Service recently awarded a grant to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society (RIBHS) to “assist in efforts to broaden the inclusion of underrepresented communities in statewide inventories of historic properties and the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks.”  In addition to broadening the inclusion of communities left out of earlier inventories, many African American and Diasporic communities were dispersed particularly in the 1950s and 1960s due to the University’s expanding footprint and other urban renewal projects. Bristol and Providence also prospered from it. In other words, Rhode Island itself has as much culpability in the history of slavery as Providence Plantations. As New England colonists drove Native nations out of their homes, they replaced these enslaved Native people with enslaved Africans and invested heavily in the slave trade to power their economy. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. So what do the actual numbers of black slave owners and their slaves tell us? Launched by the Brown brothers (Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses) the brig the Sally was the first slave ship to depart directly from Providence. There was a large market for sugar in Britain and Europe so the crop was a sound investment. So the Providence Plantations colony anti-slavery, it merged with Rhode Island Colony (Rhode Island being the Island Newport is on), and Newport was the home of the slave trade. Slavery in North America, however, never achieved the scale that it did in the Caribbean or South America. Examining one particular ship, the Sally, provided important insight into how the institution of slavery operated within the colonial community of Providence. It left for West Africa in 1764, the same year that the College of Rhode Island was founded (it would not be … He called the site " Providence Plantations " and declared it a place of religious freedom. Romanticizing plantations helps white people forget about plantation slavery, she says, “because if we remember, we’ll have to discuss who was harmed, who committed the … (AP Photo/Matt O'Brien, File) (AP Photo/Matt O'Brien, File) 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…. 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. 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, Hoboken is Burning: A Conversation on Gentrification, Arson, and Displacement, Sleeping Soldiers and the War for the Mind, Why the Portuguese Restoration of 1640 Matters to the History of American Slavery, Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism, The 1952 Olympic Games, the US, and the USSR, The Troubled History of American Education after the Brown Decision. Conversations around the history of slavery had been pushed to the margins for many decades. It is a tragic irony that the law was flouted and Newport later became a center for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but this shows us that there were people in Providence who were fighting for the idea that all Rhode Islanders deserve … The use of the word “plantations” had nothing to do with, and predated, slavery in Rhode Island. There, slavery only became illegal with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. All Rights Reserved. There have been efforts to drop the "Providence Plantations" before by those who say it evokes the legacy of slavery. It was founded by Roger Williams. 2. Colonists in these cities likely passed these statutes to differentiate themselves from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which legalized slavery in 1641, and from which colonists in Providence and Warwick had broken away. Aside from the need for cheap labor, the number of slaves that an individual had was a symbol of wealth. Rhode Island fueled its rum trade by trafficking humans in Africa and the Carribean. SLAVERY in RHODE ISLAND. Yet officials didn’t enforce the statutes, and starting in 1703, the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations supplanted them with new laws codifying the enslavement of African and Native people. What I’m trying to do, you see, in a country that wants to move on, I’m trying to understand as a descendant of slaves how to feel good about moving on. 'Providence Plantations' was the first European settlement in the area; It was not a slave plantation, but Rhode Island was heavily involved in slave trade; By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com So much land was available, so cheaply, that no one was willing to come to America and sign on to work as a laborer. 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