Slavery in Georgetown and Rowley, MA

Before 1783, slavery was legal in Massachusetts and yes, there were slaves here. It seems like this never gets talked about. All the historic homes highlight their roles in the Underground Railroad, but they don’t tend to mention who the servants were.  At a local museum, I was shown a shackle, said to have come “from the South”.  But on it was written “Mt. Vernon Street”.  That’s south — thirty miles south in Boston.

A book that opened my eyes to this fact was Mr. and Mrs. Prince, an amazingly reconstructed tale of slavery & freedom in Western Massachusetts and Vermont.  The exhibit called “Slavery and the Making of New York“, seen a few years ago at the New York Historical Society, was another eye opener.  Looks like you can see the whole thing online.

So here, for the record, are the births and deaths of “negroes” in the town of Rowley before 1849.  A few are noted as being “free”, so it’s fair to assume that the rest were not.  The source for this is Massachusetts Vital Records Project.




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