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tv   History of the Slave Trade  CSPAN  January 21, 2018 6:40pm-6:51pm EST

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used. we are pro-choice. we are a movement that believes a woman should have the agency to choose whatever it is she feels is right for her and her family and her body. 9:00 easternght at on book tv on c-span2. >> during the early colonization of america, newport became a major hub in the slave trade, learn how that happened and how the enslaved people learned to adapt to their new world. keith: one of the things i learned growing up in newport before becoming involved in history and interpretation, as my newport grandmother would remind me as a child slavery is , how we got here but it does not tell the story of the people. my interest is telling the story of the people. clearly, people of african ancestry arrived in the americans be its british or
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south america, they arrived under the most perilous and difficult circumstances of human slavery. on the other hand, we persevered. the fact that so many of us of african heritage still exist today in newport, boston, new york, barbados or anywhere in the western hemisphere is a testament to our perseverance. settled in 1639 over the course of the next 100 years, newport and the colony of rhode island would grow to become not only one of the most active ports in british north america, but also became the most active slave port. between 1705 and 1805, newport merchants along with bristol merchants within rhode island, were responsible for nearly 1000 slaving voyages from rhode island to west african coasts to the west indies and back to rhode island. they transported 100,000 africans back to the new world during that 100-year period. the africans that arrived on the rhode island ships had several pathways. for the most part, rhode island being an english colony, was
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trading in other english colonies and settlements. in the case of west africa, the gold and ginny coast of toady what we recognize as nigeria to ghana. from there, africans would be taken to the west indies to english settlements in what we recognize today as the bahamas, jamaica, and barbados. from there, africans along with other products and goods would be transported back to newport in rhode island, what we call the triangle trade as part of the transatlantic trade. in the case of newport, this trade was almost singularly tied to rum and molasses. in fact, between the beginning of the 18th century after the american revolution, newport was involved in 80% of what is called the guinea rum trade. newport ships would take rum that was distilled and produced in newport, and trade it for enslaved africans. those africans would be
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transported to english colonies in the west indies, mostly jamaica and barbados. there they would become the labor force that would work the sugar plantations that would produce sugar and molasses. newport ships would take the raw materials and transport it back to newport would be distilled into more rum and that was used for consumption and currency. the european transatlantic slave trade went on for for centuries. but in the case of british colonial north america, the system is different than what many people might have a sense of today. in fact, many people when they think of african enslavement and the slave trade, they tend to think of a west indian system or an antebellum southern american 19th century system. they tend to think of cotton fields, rice, sugar, coffee plantations. they all existed as part of the cash crop system but here in new england, we have never had temperate weather. we don't have the great soil, so we were not producing the cash crops.
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for the most part, the africans that came to new england generally, particularly to newport, were more involved in any of the urban trade skills that were required during that time. in the case of newport, we have primary and secondary records and shift logs and work records that show africans being apprenticed and trained as artisans. many are involved as shipwrights, court winding, silver making, fine furniture, snuff making, rum making, seamstress. any work required in urban new england colonial seaport communities, these africans were involved in doing. so it is not a better or worse circumstance, it is a different circumstance. the economy of colonial new england, the climate, the opportunities for training and education were different from the american south and the west indies. by the very fact that newport was at the center of the african slave trade and the significant number of africans coming to
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newport, by the middle part of the 18th century, the few years leading to the american revolution, nearly a third of the population of newport are enslaved africans. in fact, one out of every three families in colonial newport owned at least one slave. so from that perspective, it was a significant number of africans, very much a part of the population and workforce. rhode island is also settled by whites looking for the expression of religious freedom, escaping tyranny of old world and new world. religious freedom and the ability to worship freely was very important as a concept in this community. you find africans enslaved in religious households take on the religious identity of the master or mistress. so in quaker communities, slaves took on a quaker identity. in the anglican episcopal church, they become anglican. we have africans listed as israelites. what is important is that africans have access to work skills, training skills, they
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are actively worshiping in the same place as master and mistress and third most important, there is no separation of living environments. most africans were living in the same quarters as master and mistress. they are living in an attic or pantry. there is this living together, working together, worshiping together. that would have been largely unheard in the south or the west indies. this tightknit community of interactivity would allow africans to have access to language skills, social skills. that would allow them to reclaim their african identity much earlier and in a much more comprehensive way than africans enslaved elsewhere. by the mid-part of the 18th century, we find a number of africans purchasing their freedom or being emancipated. they buy homes and set up shops. by 1780, the first time in world history, a group of africans come together in newport and form the free african union.
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this free african union in newport does three things. it raises money and saves money to educate africans, establishes the first free african school in newport, and would raise money for proper burial. the oldest and largest existing african burial ground in america is in newport. many surviving markers are paid for and carved by fellow africans. the most important piece, they wanted to reclaim their african identity. many africans through this union society, this school and their own church, they would reclaim their african names and customs and that would be in place in newport throughout the 18th century and 19th century. this is important because today, there are at least 30 buildings or historic structures from the colonial era that are directly related to not only where africans were enslaved and more importantly, where africans owned property, applied a trade and worshiped and taught their
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children. on a personal level, history is more than a vocation of study or learning. for me, it is a way of life, a definition of who you are. my own family, on my mother's side, we date back over 10 generations in newport. many of our newport ancestors did not look like george or martha washington or worship like them. their backgrounds were african heritage, native heritage, and jewish heritage. for me, this provides an opportunity to talk about all of american history in an inclusive manner. i have been very fortunate because every generation of my family has maintained heirlooms that have been passed down to the next. we have 18th-century and 19th-century collections of furniture, clothing, books, documents, all the things a family might have and cherish, they have been passed on to this day. it gives us a strong sense of not only being real newporters, but most importantly, real americans. our story is one that is an untold story of so many otgher
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-- other americans in this country to this day. again, america was founded on the ideals of not only liberty of conscience and freedom but the ideals that anyone regardless of race or ethnicity, religious persuasion, had the right to settle here and prosper here. the story of newport very much represents that story. >> our city tour staff recently traveled to newport, rhode island to learn about its rich history. learn more about newport on c-span.org site --/city tours. your watching "american history tv", all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> religion scholar and author peter manso uses a variety of images to discuss spiritualism and its relationship to photography in the 19th century. mr. manso is the author of "the apparitionists: a tale of
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phantoms, fraud, photography, and the man who captured lincoln's ghost." it traces the rise and fall of a photographer, william munley. unler. author ofeau is an several books and winners of a national jewish book awards. he is the curator of the smithsonian national history museum. book and iten the is available and he will sign books afterward. please welcome to the stage, peter manseau. we are very happy to have him. [applause]

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