Join PARC this Sunday (June 16th) for a screening of Stephanie Black’s “Life and Debt”.
Where: Tea in Sahara, 69 Governor
When: 6pm—Sunday, June 16th
If you visit the Newport Historical Society (Newport, RI) and ask to see box 43, folder 24 you’ll read a remarkable account.
The ship was called the “Polly” and the date was 1791. James DeWolf was the ship’s captain. He was a merchant from this nation’s most powerful slave trading family — the Dewolf’s of Bristol, Rhode Island.
John Cranston was a sailor on board the Polly when it departed Newport, RI and sailed to the Gold Coast of Africa (modern day Ghana), then to Havana, Cuba.
As to be expected, shit happens on slave ships…
[Note the following account of a court proceeding in which Mr. Cranston is testifying against James DeWolf after he murdered one of the ship’s pieces of “property.”]
Q: Did anything uncommon take place on board the vessel during her passage from Africa to the West Indies?
A: Yes, there was something that happened more than common.
Q: What happened?
A: A slave [woman, middled aged] was taken sick which we took to be the small pox. The captain ordered her to be put in the maintop for fear she should give it to the others. She was there two days. The night after at 4 o’clock Captain [De]Wolf called us all aft and says he “if we keep the slave here she shall give it to the rest and I shall lose the biggest part of my slaves.” Then he asked if we were willing to heave her overboard. We made answer, “no.” We were not willing to do any such thing. Upon that he run up the shroud saying “she must go overboard and she shall go overboard!”
[He then orders one person to go up with him.]
He lashed her into a chair and tied a mask around her eyes and mouth to prevent her from speaking or making any noise when she was thrown over. This was done to prevent her from making any noise so that the other slaves might not hear least they should rise. He tethered a heavy tackle to the chair and had her lowered down into the Atlantic.
Later, DeWolf is reported to have said he was sorry he “lost so good a chair.”
Let us now who are the descendants of this woman in spirit confirm DeWolf’s fear and… RISE!