In the summer of 2020, where racial injustice is at the forefront of our nation’s concerns, several readers suggested that we republish Paul Davis’ 2006 Journal series “Unrighteous Traffick,” which discussed the history of slavery in Rhode Island.
Paul’s series shed considerable light on current debates. But it wasn’t accessible to current readers. Its very depth means that it’s also very, very long — 15 stories, many of which would take more than a page of newsprint to republish.
The voyage of the Sally was an example of "the triangle trade." Rum-laden Rhode Island ships sailed to Africa and acquired cargoes of Africans, who were carried to the plantation colonies of the Caribbean and sold. The ships returned home with holds filled with sugar and molasses, which was distilled into rum and shipped to Africa to produce more slaves, more sugar, and more rum. In the century before 1807, roughly 100,000 Africans were carried into New World slavery on Rhode Island ships, most to the Caribbean. The Sally's voyage stands out for several reasons. It the best-documented Rhode Island slaving venture, but it was also one of the deadliest. The timing of the voyage was significant: 1764 marked the beginning of the imperial crisis between Great Britain and its thirteen mainland North American colonies. Drawn from holdings of the John Carter Brown Library and the Rhode Island Historical Society.
Contains information on more than 35,000 slave voyages involving the forcible transport of more than 12 million Africans to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.
Contains over one hundred and fifty historical documents, some six hundred manuscript pages in all, as well as introductory headnotes, bibliographic information, and technical data. The collection can be browsed by date, name, or type of document. Many of the documents have been transcribed, as part of an ongoing project. Compiled by the University Steering Committee on Slavery & Justice from sources at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the Rhode Island Historical Society Library, and the Brown University Archives.