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Dark WorkThe Business of Slavery in Rhode Island$
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Christy Clark-Pujara

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479870424

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479870424.001.0001

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The Business of Slavery and the Making of Race

The Business of Slavery and the Making of Race

Chapter:
(p.10) 1 The Business of Slavery and the Making of Race
Source:
Dark Work
Author(s):

Christy Clark-Pujara

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479870424.003.0002

This chapter explain how the business of slavery encouraged the emergence of slavery. Prior to the pursuit of commerce in the Atlantic economy, Rhode Islanders sought to restrict and even ban slaveholding; however, once they began to participate in the West Indian and Atlantic slave trades, they wrote slavery into law. By the 1730s, merchants, slave traders, farmers, distillers, and manufacturers had created a niche for themselves in the Atlantic economy, and a series of racist laws served the needs of a local economy deeply entrenched in the West Indian and Atlantic slave trades. Moreover, the more dominant Rhode Islanders became in the slave trade, the more they relied on slave labor. Slave law in the colony also buttressed the business of slavery by explicitly protecting the property rights of slaveholders. Furthermore, these laws elevated all whites to the enslaver class, as it required them to supervise all slaves; at the same time, those laws relegated people of color to the status of dependents or potential dependents. The business of slavery in Rhode Island shaped not only the economy but also social standing and race relations.

Keywords:   slavery, african, indentured servant, Atlantic slave trade, West Indian trade, African American, Native American

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