“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Warren in Bristol County, Rhode Island — The American Northeast (New England)

The Middle Passage

Warren Historic Site

Middle Passage - Warren Historic Site Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project
1. Middle Passage - Warren Historic Site Marker
Rhode Island was the center of the American transatlantic slave trade, accounting for the majority of American slave voyages from 1700 until 1808.

More than 110,000 Africans were forcibly taken from their homeland on Rhode Island ships and brought through the Middle Passage: 1 in 5 died on those voyages. Those who survived were sold into slavery in the Caribbean as well as Colonial America/United States of America. In Newport, Bristol and Providence, men, women and children were sold at public auctions.

[Images and caption: In 1806 and 1807, Captain Benjamin Eddy, Sr. twice sailed to Africa aboard the Agent (above). Of the 332 people he captured, 36 died during the voyage through the Middle Passage and 296 were sold into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. At that same time, Eddy had this mansion built in Warren.]

From its founding in 1747, Warren was home to shipwrights, rope winders, coopers, blacksmiths and sailmakers who built and rigged ships, some for slave traders in Newport and Bristol. The RI legislature passed a law in 1781 banning residents from participating in the transatlantic slave trade;
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the law was ignored. In 1789, Warren illegally launched its first slave ship, the Abigail. Owned by Ebenezer Cole, James and Level Maxwell and Captain Charles Collins, it sailed for Africa on the morning of September 24, 1789, eventually purchasing 64 Africans. Eleven died during the two-month return journey. The 53 who survived were sold into slavery.

[Image with caption: Six African Americans who were enslaved in Warren fought in the Revolutionary War. Hampton Barton and Bristol Miller were honorably discharged. Warren Mason died while stationed I Rhode Island. Prince Child died from wounds after the Battle of Pines Bridge in New York. Bristol Luther died after the battle at Yorktown and Ceasar Cole died at Valley Forge.]

[Image and caption: Will of John Mason Touisset Over the course of the 18th century, nearly 100 people were enslaved in Warren: the 1774 Census alone counted 43. These men, women and children worked on the farms of Touisset, in the homes and businesses of the wealthy, and at the shipyards along the Warren River. Their labor benefitted the families that owned them and the town in which they lived.]

For nearly 20 years Warren ships made at least 30 illegal voyages to Africa, leading to the death or enslavement of more than 2,800 men, women and children. Warren families who invested in the voyages profited directly from the sale
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of human beings while others made money by constructing, financing, provisioning and maintaining the ships. There are historic homes in Warren that were purchased with profits from the slave trade.

[Rhode Island banned African slave trading in 1787; the U.S. Congress did so in 1808. RI outlawed slavery in 1843; the United States followed in 1865.]
Erected 2019 by Warren Middle Passage Project, Warren Preservation Society, Warren Heritage Foundation. (Marker Number 3.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is September 24, 1789.
Location. 41° 43.764′ N, 71° 17.114′ W. Marker is in Warren, Rhode Island, in Bristol County. Marker is on Water Street south of State Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 279 Water St, Warren RI 02885, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Massasoit Park Sacred Circle Monument (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Oyster Industry (about 500 feet away); Warren Honor Roll (about 500 feet away); Veterans Memorial (about 500 feet away); The First Methodist Church (about 500 feet away); The Warren Armory (about 600 feet away); The Baptist Church in Warren (approx. 0.2 miles away); Washington St. (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Warren.
More about this marker. The marker was installed on Water Street across from the Miller-Collins House which was owned by Captain Charles Collins (1778). That structure is on the National Register of Historic Places, "Warren Waterfront Historic District", Bristol County, Warren, RI, Section 7, page. 101.
Regarding The Middle Passage. The city of Warren was involved in ship building and the transatlantic human trade but, unlike other Rhode Island ports, there is no record that captive Africans disembarked here. As a result of interest in the city’s Middle Passage history however, residents have identified and are researching the lives of enslaved who resided in Warren. Through current research, however, the city has identified 40 people who were enslaved in Warren as well as the people who held them in bondage. “From postmaster to town councilman to justice of the peace, from farmers to ship builders to innkeepers, Warren residents used the work of the enslaved to further their own families’ futures.”

Source - Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Emory University, Warren Preservation Society.
Also see . . .
1. Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project. (Submitted on June 3, 2020, by John Bloomfield of Palm Coast, Florida.)
2. Warren Preservation Society. (Submitted on June 11, 2020, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 5, 2023. It was originally submitted on June 3, 2020, by John Bloomfield of Palm Coast, Florida. This page has been viewed 600 times since then and 41 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on June 3, 2020, by John Bloomfield of Palm Coast, Florida. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?

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Apr. 22, 2024