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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 Legacies of Enslavement

The Legacies of Enslavement

Chapter:
(p.86) 4 The Legacies of Enslavement
Source:
Dark Work
Author(s):

Christy Clark-Pujara

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479870424.003.0005

This chapter chronicles the fall of legal slavery, from the last decade of the eighteenth century through the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Black Rhode Islanders struggled to build lives as free individuals, while the former enslaver class grappled with the loss of mastery and attempted to maintain economic and social control over the sons and daughters of their former slaves. The attempts to control black people were evident in discriminatory laws, the exclusion of blacks from factory work, and the destruction of black neighborhoods in racially motivated riots. Moreover, black emancipation was at odds with the expanding business of slavery—the growth of the Atlantic trade and the entry into the textile industry, which was dependent on slave-grown cotton. As the business of slavery shifted from Atlantic commerce to the textile industry, freed people found themselves shut out of the new industrial economy. They also faced serious social discrimination, as public officials and white society at large were uncomfortable with the realities of black freedom, especially as black people challenged white supremacy by claiming social and political space.

Keywords:   slavery, emancipation, statutory slave, warned out, Negro cloth, textile industry, snowtown, hardscrabble

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