How did the smallest colony and smallest state in the union became the largest American participant in the slave trade?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Christy Clark-Pujara, an Assistant Professor in the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island (NYUPress, 2016), joins us to explore the history of Rhode Island and New England’s involvement with slavery.
You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/118
In September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. It would take effect January 1, 1863, and free slaves in areas of the nation still in rebellion against the Union. Despite its limitations, free blacks, slaves, and abolitionists across the country hailed it as one of the most important actions toward full abolition.
To immigrant New Yorkers (principally Irish) the Emancipation Proclamation was confirmation of their worst fears – that they would be replaced in the labor market by recently emancipated blacks from the South. Continue reading
Twelve Years A Slave (W.W. Norton Critical Edition, 2017) offers the autobiography of Solomon Northup, based on the 1853 first edition. It is accompanied by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kevin Burke’s introduction and detailed explanatory footnotes.
Solomon Northup was a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, DC, in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release. Continue reading
For a few hours on the night of October 7, 1862 in the village of Binghamton, N.Y., law and order vaporized when a mob of white men attacked black residents, their homes, and their churches. The trigger for this race riot was an interracial fight at the circus in town. According to the Broome Republican, the rioters’ expressed goal was to “clean the negroes out.”
Right after the circus performances ended, “all the colored persons present” were attacked. Many suffered bloody injuries at the hands – and stones and clubs – of 20 to 30 rioters. There was no organized resistance as the victims fled for safety. In addition, there were no arrests, or police presence or response. Continue reading
Not much has been written about this civil disturbance that occurred on the afternoon of August 12, 1862 when Irish and German stevedores protested against local dock bosses, demanding increased pay for their work, and preventing others from working however when police responded the rioters overpowered them and Chief Dullard and other members of the force injured.
Ultimately the police regained control of the situation with gunfire wounding two rioters and arresting the ring leaders. Continue reading
Kerry James Marshall, at the Met Breuer exhibition until January 29, boldly claims center stage in American art with his show entitled “Mastry.” A Chicago-based painter, Marshall seizes the spotlight at the center of conversations about American art at the center of the country’s art scene in New York. His mastery unfurls over a grand expanse of work, complemented by his own selections from the Metropolitan Museum’s collections, a curated sidebar that testifies to his confident deployment of art history in his own work. History, genre, cityscape, portrait – Marshall draws from the visual riches of the past, transforming Western art traditions into his own language. His cityscapes suggest how his paintings reclaim space. Continue reading
Unlike most of riots reviewed in this ongoing series, which pitted civilians against civilians and interventions by police or militia forces to restore order, a June 16, 1857 riot was a battle between the forces of the recently dissolved New York Municipal Police and the newly formed Metropolitan Police. Continue reading
This conflict occurred on May 10, 1849 at the Astor Opera House in Manhattan, New York City. When it was over an estimated lay 25 people lay dead and more than 120 injured when militiamen fired into an unruly crowd that had gathered in front of this theatre. Incredibly, the riot was triggered by the appearance at this venue of a famous British Shakespearean actor, William Charles Macready. It seems that he was as involved in a bitter rivalry with an American actor, Edwin Forrest, and each man was revered by a contingent of diehard fans. Continue reading
Generally speaking, riots tend to happen on hot summer days but the Flour Riot erupted on a cold winter night in February of 1837. The attack on warehouses was sparked by a fear that food was being hoarded by wealthy merchants in lower Manhattan and people in the lower classes might face starvation. In reality, the rumors which inflamed the crowd were greatly exaggerated, lasted about a day and the vandalism which resulted was fairly minor, especially when compared to such later disturbances such as the Astor Place Riot or the colossal Draft Riots. Nonetheless, the Flour Riot was a significant affair because it underscored a growing divide in the city between New York’s prosperous merchant class and a quickly growing lower class of newly arrived Irish immigrants. The riot was also memorable because new method of communication, the “penny press,” had helped to inflame tensions. These cheap newspapers, widely available to the poor, had spread dangerous rumors and provoked a mob to attack a warehouse where flour was stored. Continue reading
The origins of this civil disturbance began in early February of 1788 and broke out in mid April of that year. Actually the City’s doctors did not riot as the name implies. However, it had its origins in the illegal procurement of corpses of free blacks and slaves and poor whites by doctors and medical students at an unaccredited surgical training school in lower Manhattan led by Richard Bailey, a Connecticut-born doctor who had studied in London.
Apparently it was expensive and almost impossible for the school to provide corpses for its teaching purposes and the professors and students resorted to stealing them from nearby Trinity Church yard and other local cemeteries including the one for people of color then known the “Negro Burying Ground” Continue reading