Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Leslie Schwalm


This dissertation argues that, in Rhode Island, the institution of slavery, the process of emancipation and circumscribed black freedom was fundamentally influenced by the businesses of slavery. The businesses of slavery include the West Indian rum and slave trade, the Atlantic slave trade and the negro cloth industry. Specifically, I contend that in Rhode Island these businesses led to the legalization of race-based slavery, buttressed the local economy, and helped to maintain the institution of slavery throughout the Americas. Academic scholarship and public knowledge of northern slavery and emancipation in the United States remains relatively slim. American slavery has become almost synonymous with the American South, disregarding the fact that it was an institution that was socially accepted, legally sanctioned and widely practiced in the North. Furthermore, most emancipation studies focus on the Civil War era, rather than the decades of freedom struggles in the post-revolutionary North. This dissertation argues that the history of slavery and freedom in North American is fundamentally skewed without a full accounting of the northern experience. Historians have long noted the importance of the Atlantic slave trade and trade with the West Indies to the survival and maintenance of the northern North American British colonies. This project studies the origins of race-based slavery, the process of emancipation and circumscribed black freedom within the context of the development of the businesses of slavery.


Emancipation, Rhode Island, Slavery


viii, 245 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 234-245).


Copyright 2009 Christy M. Clark-Pujara

Included in

History Commons