J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Lecture on James DeWolf in Newport, 8 Oct.

On Thursday, 8 October, the Newport Historical Society will host a talk on “James DeWolf and the Rhode Island Slave Trade” by author Cynthia Mestad Johnson.

DeWolf (1764-1837) was a teen-aged sailor on privateers toward the end of the Revolutionary War. After the peace, he became a merchant captain and then a merchant focusing on a particular type of import:
Over thirty thousand slaves were brought to America on ships owned and captained by James DeWolf. When the United States took action to abolish slavery, this Bristol native manipulated the legal system and became actively involved in Rhode Island politics in order to pursue his trading ventures. DeWolf’s political power and central role in sustaining the state’s economy allowed him to evade prosecution from local and federal authorities—even on counts of murder.

Through archival records, author Cynthia Mestad Johnson uncovers the secrets of James DeWolf and tells an unsettling story of corruption and exploitation in the Ocean State from slave ships to politics.
Johnson will sign books after her talk. Admission is $1 for Newport Historical Society members, $5 for others. Seating is limited, so the society strongly encourages people to make reservations (email).

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