SOURCE: Saturday Evening Post
by Ben Railton
Bristol, Rhode Island's patriotic festivities are the oldest Independence Day festivities in the nation, but the town's history sits at the uncomfortable intersection of independence with the slave trade and wars of extermination against Native Americans.
A drunken sailor's brawl in 1831 kicked off four days of rioting targeting the free Black population of the Snowtown neighborhood; the stigma attached to the area allowed the state of Rhode Island to raze the area to build the state capitol.
Philip Morgan says the decision to enlist both free and enslaved Black troops resulted both from Rhode Island's difficulty mustering a sufficient all-white force and George Washington's fear that Lord Dunmore's offer of freedom to enslaved men who joined the British army would undermine the slavery-based economy of Virginia and the southern colonies.
Historians Margaret Ellen Newell and Christy Clark-Pujara show that slavery was both practiced in many northern colonies and states and was integral to their economic development.
by Rockwell Stensrud
At a time when many are questioning what America stands for in a world consumed by sectarian strife, it is well to remember where freedom of conscience was first practiced.
SOURCE: University of Rhode Island
Two University of Rhode Island professors have won highly competitive national fellowships in the humanities for their work on 18th-century Europe.
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