Without question, Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders played a significant role in the American slave trade in the 1700s.

According to En Compass: A Digital Sourcebook of Rhode Island History, "A total of about one thousand slave-trading voyages, or one-half of all American slaving voyages, sailed from Rhode Island to the coast of Africa, in what has been called the triangular trade."

Slavery was a big part of New England's history from the mid-1600s through the American Revolution, legally existing in Rhode Island until 1842.

En Compass says, "Near the peak of northern slavery in the 1750s, there were towns in the southern part of Rhode Island whose populations were as much as 30% Black and enslaved."

Rhode Island's Slave History Medallion Project
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

The first voyage of captive Africans was brought to Rhode Island in 1696 aboard the Boston-based Seaflower. Fourteen enslaved Africans from that voyage were sold in Newport.

En Compass says, "While Rhode Island did not have the largest absolute number of enslaved people in New England, it had the largest percentage of Africans, nearly all of them enslaved, among its residents - 6% of the population in 1708 had risen to an astonishing 11.5% by 1755 when only four out of twenty-five cities and towns in the colony reported fewer than twenty enslaved people in its population."

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Africans never constituted more than 3.2 percent of the population of any other New England colony.

The Rhode Island Slave History Medallions (RISHM) project "documents people and places in the history of slavery in Rhode Island."

Rhode Island's Slave History Medallion Project
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

Thanks to a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, a new RISHM digital archive website marks historic sites in communities most connected to the history of slavery in Rhode Island.

RISHM says, "By marking sites throughout the state that are connected to that past, we hope to make that history easily accessible by telling a more complete story of the cultural and economic development of the State of Rhode Island."

In each city or town, a "QR coded Medallion with a history of its designated locations will provide a link to this website with historical content about each location."

There are medallions in Barrington, Bristol, East Greenwich, Jamestown, Newport, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Providence and Warren.

Buildings Featured in the New Bedford Pathways Historical Walking Tours

A series of new app-based walking tours called New Bedford Pathways will teach the unique architecture of New Bedford and stories of the people who have dwelled among it. Here, New Bedford Preservation Society Administrator Pat Daughton, who produced the tours, shares a photo of one stop from each of the tours along with information about the location.

A Guide to New Bedford's Memorial Tanks and Cannons

New Bedford has a large assortment of military hardware scattered throughout the city to honor various veterans organizations. See them all listed here.

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