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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

THE NATURAL STATE OF MANKIND IS...FREEDOM


Slave trade map ~ Click image to enlarge

Amistad ~ a movie which partly was shot here in Rhode Island, Newport included. My favorite scene ~
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"…The natural state of mankind is instead - and I know this is a controversial idea - is freedom. Is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman or child will go to regain it once taken. He will break loose his chains, he will decimate his enemies, he will try and try and try against all odds, against all prejudices to get home.
…who we are is who we were…give us the courage to do what is right..."

Slavery here in Newport ~
newport history
Newport, Rhode Island played a leading role during the Colonial Period in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. By 1776, several thousand African slaves lived, work and eventually died in this New England seaport. At the peak of the Colonial Period they comprised nearly one third of the total town population with one in three Newport families owning at least one slave. Source: newport history

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Here in Newport, Rhode Island we have several physical ‘touch stones’ to remind us of the legacy left by those Africans and later African Americans who graced our city with their presence. From 1696 when the first documented slave ship, the ‘Sea Flower’, touched our shores, to the present, African Americans have worked, raised their families and prospered in the city by the sea.

The American Slave Trade and Newport share similar origins. Newport, the most prosperous of colonial American ports, saw unprecedented growth throughout the 18th century; mostly from the export and trade of rum, spermaceti candles and slaves. By 1784, the fledgling state government abolished slavery.

Many of the slaves that came to Newport’s shore would arrive, like most goods, at the Long Wharf. These slaves would be auctioned off to the highest bidders at the Granary (market), which is today known as the Brick Market at the foot of Washington Square.

If colonial Newport was known as one of America’s most active slave ports, it was equally known as one of the new country’s most liberal communities for the pursuit of religious freedom. This unique atmosphere of religious tolerance would lead to the demise of popular support of human bondage led by two of America’s first humanitarians and abolitionists; Reverend Samuel Hopkins and Reverend Ezra Stiles of the First and Second Congregational Churches. Both men preached fiery sermons from their pulpits against the evils of slavery. Because of the dedication and vision of these two men, and the decline of Newport as a major trading port after the Revolutionary War, slavery would end in Newport by the commencement of the 19th century.

Where did these slave and free Africans live and work in early Newport? What were they like? Do any of these sites exist in Newport today? Numerous sites exist today that were built, lived in, or in some way touched by Newport’s long history with the African and African American community. Source and for more information ~ www.eyesofglory


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“…unless we all have plenty

one of us will become a thief and the ghief will make you angry

you will hurt him

this will hurt his children

they will punish you

this will hurt your children

they will punish his children

and that’s how it begins

to believe in man is to know

peace will not work if just one man alive

is unjust

if one man alive

is ignorant

or hungry

or crazy

or ashamed

FOR we have seen if only one of us

decides to pull the plug, the millions of us can kiss

the world good-bye

whether we like it or not.

From Joseph Pintauro’s little book “to believe in man”

Illustrated by Sister Corita Kent

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Click the post title for Newport history regarding slavery

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