The great migration from rural towns to the sea: whaling and shipping at the end of Rhode Island slavery.

Hosted by Newport Middle Passage

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EDT

Register here

For centuries, Rhode Island sent its young men to sea. As agriculture and slavery slowly declined, hundreds left the rural towns, many of them formerly enslaved African American and Indigenous men, seeking opportunities in shipping and whaling. As cooks, first mates, oarsmen, and boatsteerers, they crossed the bay, the Atlantic, and the world in pursuit of a livelihood that had eluded them at home. What they found were South Sea islands, arctic icescapes, wondrous sea creatures, warring tribes, hardship, and occasionally, opportunities for stunning achievement.

Peter Fay is a public historian and board member of the Jamestown Historical Society who researches, writes, and lectures about Rhode Island history. He is currently helping develop a public memorial to recognize the role of Newport in the history of the slave trade. This talk is sponsored by Seamen’s Church Institute of Newport. and Newport Middle Passage Project.

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