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New England - History

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New England
(Ship: t. 375)

The first New England, a whaler purchased by the Navy at New London, Conn., 21 November 1861 for the "Stone Fleet," was sunk as an obstruction at Moffit Channel, Charleston Harbor, S.C. 25 January 1862.

II (SP-1222: dp. 579; 1. 130'; b. 31'5"; dr. 9'4"; s. 8~ k.)

New England, a tug built by Fore River Ship Building Co., Quiney, Mass., was chartered by the Navy at New York 23 October 1917 from New England Steam Ship Co., New York City and commissioned 24 October 1917.

Assigned to the 2nd Naval District, headquartered at Newport, during World War I, New England operated as a tug aiding ships into Newport and ferrying supplies. After wartime service and decommissioning, she was returned to her owner 11 May 1919.

Submarine Tender AS-28 was Reclassified AD-32 on 14 August 1944 and named New England 2 September 1944. Laid down 1 October 1944 by Tampa SB Co., Ine., Tampa, Fla., New England was to be launched 1 April 1946 and was to be sponsored by Mrs. Paul H. Bastedo, but her eonstruetion was eaneelled 12 August 1945.


Groundfishing, the catching of fishes that swim in close proximity to the bottom, was the first colonial industry in America. During the past 400 years, changes in the methods, people and productivity of groundfishing have paralleled the technological, ethnographic and environmental conditions ashore. Now we are faced with unprecedented low stocks of groundfish species, and an industry shrinking in regional importance, struggling to support historical fishing communities such as Gloucester and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

This review is intended to look back to the beginnings of the 20th century, and to follow the development of groundfishing to the current times. Many of the problems currently faced by the industry were foreseen as early as the first decade of the new century. Increasingly efficient fishing methods, competition between fleet sectors employing various gears, inability to act in harmony with international partners, and the failure to heed scientific advice sound like current themes, but in fact have been echoed repeatedly since the turn of the century. The diversity and productivity of New England fisheries was once unequaled. A continuing trend over the past century has been the overexploitation and eventual collapse of species after species. Atlantic halibut, ocean perch, haddock and yellowtail flounder once fed millions of Americans.

Now even the venerable Atlantic Cod, resilient to years of overfishing, could join the ranks of species written-off as commercially extinct.

How we came to the current situation, and missed opportunities to put the fishery on a sustainable basis form the thesis of this review. Understanding the historical, scientific and human dimensions that influenced the fish, fishermen and management decisions is a necessary step to begin harmonizing the fishery with the ecosystem.


History of the New England Historic Genealogical Society

The first genealogical society established in the United States, NEHGS was founded in 1845 by a group of five Bostonians: Charles Ewer (1790-1853), Lemuel Shattuck (1793-1859), Samuel Gardner Drake (1798-1875), John Wingate Thornton (1818-1878), and William Henry Montague (1804-1889).

Initially, the founders debated the nature of the organization they would establish. Among their decisions was whether to focus on genealogy, heraldry, or history, or some combination of these disciplines. Genealogy and history were favored and plans were made to incorporate as the New England Historical Genealogical Society.

Opposition to the use of the word “historical” was brought by Charles Francis Adams of the Massachusetts Historical Society and, as a compromise, the institution’s name was altered to the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This change did not please everyone and one or two of the founders regarded the new name as cumbersome. On March 18, 1845 the General Court of Massachusetts approved the Society’s petition for incorporation.

The impulse to formalize genealogical study in the first half of the nineteenth century found its earliest roots in the folkways of men and women of the region who, since at least the late eighteenth century, actively kept private family records to document their families and lineages. These records or registers were often executed in pen-and-ink or in needlework and were more ornate counterparts to similar printed forms found in Bibles. Later, in the mid-nineteenth century, decorative family register prints were made widely available to the public by lithographers such as Nathaniel Currier.

The founders of NEHGS also acted to make permanent the systematic work of the first generation of genealogical researchers, especially as led by John Farmer (1789-1838). Before Farmer's efforts, tracing one's ancestry was seen by some as an attempt by colonists to social standing within the British Empire, an aim that was counter to the new republic's egalitarian, future-oriented ethos.

As Fourth of July celebrations commemorating the Founding Fathers and heroes of the Revolutionary War became increasingly popular, however, the pursuit of 'antiquarianism,' which focused on local history, became increasingly a way to honor the achievements of early Americans.

Farmer capitalized on the increasing acceptability of antiquarianism to frame genealogy within the early republic's ideological framework of pride in one's American ancestors. In the 1820s, Farmer corresponded with various antiquarians in New England and became a coordinator, booster, and contributor to this burgeoning movement, which gradually gained a devoted American audience. Though Farmer died in 1839, his efforts in part led to the creation of NEHGS. [2] A group of its members founded a similar organization in New York two decades later in 1869.

In the early 20th century, NEHGS undertook the important project of transcribing and publishing the vital records of Massachusetts towns, which provided a valuable contribution to the genealogical field as this series was expanded over the next forty years. Many of these records were saved from destruction.

For more than a century, NEHGS was directly administered by its officers and board of trustees. In 1962, NEHGS appointed its first professional director, Edgar Packard Dean, a former editor of Foreign Affairs and past director of the Associated Harvard University Clubs. Dean oversaw the Society’s move from Beacon Hill to its present location in the Back Bay and retired in 1972. Dean was succeeded by Richard Donald Pierce, a Unitarian minister, librarian and formerly dean (and for a while acting president) of Emerson College, who died in office six months after his appointment.

Pierce was succeeded by James Brugler Bell, who obtained an advanced degree in history from Balliol College, Oxford, and who was a past lecturer at Ohio State University and a former candidate for the United States Congress in Minnesota. After a tenure of nine years, Bell left NEHGS in 1982. The Society’s finances and morale were at a low point, and it fell to Bell’s successor, Ralph J. Crandall, former editor of The Register and graduate of the University of Southern California where he obtained his doctorate, to rebuild the Society’s endowment over the following twenty-three years.

Crandall left briefly in 1987 and the directorship was filled by John Winthrop Sears, a former city councilor of Boston and Republican nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1982. Crandall returned to NEHGS in 1988 and continued to expand the organization. In 2005, Crandall stepped down to became executive director emeritus and concentrate on special projects. He was succeeded by D. Brenton Simons, an author, former Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education at NEHGS, and graduate of Boston University, who joined the staff in 1993 and initiated its magazine, website, and special publications imprint.

In 2006 the position of Executive Director was changed to president and CEO and in 2009 Simons announced a gift pledge of $7.5 million from an anonymous donor, the largest charitable gift ever made in the field of American genealogy. Today, NEHGS has a 22-person Board of Trustees that sets governance policies for the organization at quarterly meetings. A larger Council meets annually and, together with the Board, forms the Council of the Corporation, the statutory voting body of the organization.

Scholars associated with NEHGS in the twentieth century included George Andrews Moriarty (1883-1968), an expert on Rhode Island and the English origins of early colonists Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966), the preeminent Maine authority Mary Lovering Holman (1868-1947), author of numerous genealogies and John Insley Coddington (1902-1991), longtime “dean of American genealogy.”

Noted scholars currently associated with NEHGS include Robert Charles Anderson, Director of the Great Migration Study Project and author of its nine volumes Gary Boyd Roberts, a specialist in presidential ancestry and royal descents New York and West Indian scholar Henry B. Hoff David Curtis Dearborn, a northern New England specialist and Irish-American authority Marie E. Daly. Current staff members include genealogical authors David Allen Lambert, Christopher C. Child, Rhonda M. McClure, and Scott C. Steward.

Many notable figures, including numerous presidents, have been elected members of NEHGS. An original member was John Quincy Adams, elected on February 20, 1845, just prior to the Society’s incorporation. Others include John Singleton Copley, Baron Lyndhurst of Lyndhurst, Lord Chancellor, and son of the artist (1845), Boston mayors Harrison Gray Otis and Josiah Quincy (1846), Lewis Cass, Henry Clay, Albert Gallatin, Hannibal Hamlin, Washington Irving, and Daniel Webster (1847), John Tyler (1859), Horatio Alger and Sir John Bernard Burke of Burke’s Peerage (1862), Massachusetts governor John Albion Andrew (1863), Ulysses S. Grant (1869), Rutherford B. Hayes (1877), Chester Alan Arthur and British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone (1884), Albert I, King of the Belgians, Warren G. Harding, and Woodrow Wilson (1919), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, Herbert Hoover, and Elihu Root (1921), industrialist Andrew Mellon (1933), Grace Goodhue Coolidge (1935), Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter, Julia Child, Bill Clinton, Betty and Gerald Ford, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Charlton Heston, David McCullough, and Nancy and Ronald Reagan (1995), and Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino (2009). Horatio Alger, John Albion Andrew, and Rutherford B. Hayes all served at various times as officers of NEHGS.


Getting Organized

Jane Mruczek quickly realized that running the New England region was no longer a one-person job, so she created a Steering Committee—a core group of volunteers who would work together to plan and oversee SCBW activities. With this enthusiastic and committed group in place, the Region was able to offer many more special programs for its members.

Through a series of discussions, the Steering Committee developed a plan to divide the New England Region into three subregions based on geography and membership numbers. In 1992, SCBW Headquarters approved the proposal, creating the positions Northern New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) Regional Advisor, Central New England (Massachusetts) Regional Advisor, and Southern New England (Rhode Island, Connecticut) Regional Advisor. A Regional Coordinator would serve as a liaison for the three Regional Advisors. By this time, New England had nearly one thousand members and about thirty critique groups.

Dedicated volunteers (l to r) Betty Brown, former RA Laurie Murphy, former RC Linda Brennan, Whispering Pines Coordinator Lynda Hunt

The Steering Committee also recommended creating several other key positions to relieve the burden on RAs. These included an Editor, a Production Coordinator, and a Subscription Coordinator for the SCBW NE NEWS a Conference Coordinator and a Critique Group Coordinator. These volunteers, along with the RC and RAs, formed a Regional Team that began meeting periodically to coordinate regional activities.

The initial plan was for each subregion to have a volunteer who would send out welcome packets to new members, but Barbara Barrett agreed to take on this responsibility for the entire region and continued in that position until 2010, when SCBWI Headquarters in Los Angeles began sending their publication, The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, to all new members.

As important as these changes were for the New England Region, an even more critical transformation took place in the organization overall in 1992. After years of lobbying led by New England author-illustrator Tomie dePaola, the SCBW Board of Advisors voted to change the organization’s name to SCBWI—the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Illustrators had always been among the group’s membership, but now they began to receive the recognition they so clearly deserved.


New England's Hidden Histories: Colonial-Era Church Records

Congregational church records offer a rich and remarkable view of life in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England. Well before the writing of the Constitution each member in the early Puritan churches had an equal vote, with the power to govern themselves and to choose their own ministers. The records of these congregations document births, deaths, and marriages, but also open a window onto the lives of ordinary people deliberating on matters both sacred and secular. For much of the colonial period, church business was town business, and so beyond the usual information on births, deaths, and marriages, church records show ordinary people making decisions about property, taxation, and their representation in the larger affairs of the Commonwealth.

Many of the documents in New England's Hidden Histories are being made available to the public for the first time. Since 2005 the Congregational Library, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale and many local churches across New England, has been rescuing old records from church attics and basements, and making them widely accessible through preservation and digitization. Many of the documents also include transcriptions.

We are regularly obtaining new documents. For the sake of clarity we have arranged New England Hidden Histories documents into three series, one dealing specifically with records created by local churches, another for items created by individuals, including sermons, diaries, correspondence, and rare theological works, and a third category of records created by conferences, associations and extracurricular bodies related to Congregational churches.

We also have many related primary and secondary resources in our collections. Scholars interested in broadening their research beyond what is available online should consider applying for our research scholarships.


New England - History

by John-Manuel Andriote Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In 2007, I returned to eastern Connecticut, where I grew up. Driving north on Interstate 395 past towns like Norwich and Griswold, I was struck by the many old gray stone walls tumbling off into the forests along the highway. Realizing that the trees in those forests weren&rsquot particularly old, I surmised that those forests had once been cleared farm lands.

Casually wondering what had happened to the farms led to a journey of discovery through the forests and fields of New England.

My journey started with the book &ldquoStone by Stone: The Magnificent History of New England&rsquos Stone Walls&rdquo by University of Connecticut geology professor Robert M. Thorson. Thorson — known to colleagues and friends as &ldquoThor&rdquo — says he was &ldquosmitten&rdquo by the stone walls after moving his family from Alaska to Connecticut in 1984. At first, studying them was just a hobby for Thorson. &ldquoIt wasn&rsquot my job,&rdquo he says. &ldquoI had been teaching and researching. I ran a lab with graduate students and had funded projects &hellip But I got interested in these stone walls as landforms, so I kept working on it.&rdquo

Laid stone walls along Route 169 in Canterbury, Conn. Credit: John-Manuel Andriote.

In 2002, Thorson published &ldquoStone by Stone,&rdquo his first book on the topic, and he and his wife Kristine founded the Stone Wall Initiative in conjunction with the publication, which Thorson describes as the first geoarchaeological study of New England&rsquos stone walls.

Like the book, the Initiative aims to promote scientific understanding of the walls and advocate for their protection as cultural and ecological resources. Since the book&rsquos launch, Thorson has spoken to thousands of stone wall enthusiasts, authored numerous articles on the subject, and seen his book become the basis of a documentary called &ldquoPassages of Time.&rdquo

On a brilliant afternoon in January 2014, I joined Thorson for a guided tour of the stone walls in Brooklyn, Conn. The area features many notable stone walls in large part because of its proximity to what Thorson calls &ldquothe geological and agricultural center of interior New England,&rdquo which provided abundant stones of the perfect size and shape to make them. Thorson notes in &ldquoExploring Stone Walls,&rdquo his 2005 field guide, that January is one of the best times in southern New England for stone wall viewing. &ldquoLike a negative to a photograph,&rdquo he writes, &ldquowalls are most visible when life is most invisible. Typically this occurs in January when snow frames the wall from bottom to top and when the strengthening, crystal-clear sun casts strong shadows.&rdquo

As we toured the walls, I learned their story: It begins with glaciers during the last ice age, meanders through the Colonial and early New England farming eras, ebbs during industrialization in America as the walls were abandoned and fell into disrepair, and continues today with their memorialization in poetry and refurbishment.

Glacial Origins

The stones in New England's stone walls were plucked from bedrock by the Laurentide ice sheet between about 30,000 and 15,000 years ago. Credit: Kathleen Cantner, AGI.

The origins of New England&rsquos wall stones date back to between about 30,000 and 15,000 years ago, when the Laurentide ice sheet — a remnant of which still exists in the Barnes Ice Cap on central Baffin Island — made its way southward from central Canada and then began retreating. &ldquoIt stripped away the last of the ancient soils,&rdquo writes Thorson in &ldquoStone by Stone,&rdquo &ldquoscouring the land down to its bedrock, lifting up billions of stone slabs and scattering them across the region.&rdquo

As the ice sheet melted and receded, it left behind deposits of unsorted material ranging in size from clay to massive boulders chiseled from the slate, schist, granite and gneiss bedrock of northern New England and Canada. The bucolic rolling hills and meadows of New England are formed of rich glacial soil called lodgment till — up to 60 meters thick — that was &ldquoalmost single-handedly responsible for the success of the agricultural economy in New England,&rdquo Thorson says. A thinner, looser layer of rocks and sand called ablation, or &ldquomelt out,&rdquo till was left above the lodgment till. Most stone walls are composed of stones from melt-out till, which were &ldquoabundant, large, angular and easy to carry,&rdquo Thorson says, compared to the smaller, more rounded stones from the deeper lodgment till.

Although New England&rsquos stone walls are popularly associated with the Colonial era, there weren&rsquot actually many rocks lying around in the soil at that time. As evidence, Thorson cites Swedish botanist Peter Kalm, who toured New England in the mid-1700s. In his &ldquoTravels in North America,&rdquo Kalm observed of its forest soils, &ldquo[T]he Europeans coming to America found a rich, fine soil before them, lying loose between the trees as the best in a garden. They had nothing to do but to cut down the wood, put it up in heaps, and to clear the dead leaves away.&rdquo

Likewise, Colonial-era books on farming, encyclopedias and recorded observations do not mention stone walls, Thorson notes. Instead of stone walls, Colonial farmers used rail and zig-zag fences made of wood — far more abundant at the time than stone — to pen animals. It wasn&rsquot until the latter half of the 18th century that early stone walls were first widely constructed in New England. Even then, other than in long-farmed interior areas such as Concord, Mass., the stone was typically quarried or taken from slopes rather than from fields.

The region&rsquos stones lay deep in the ground, buried under thousands of years' worth of rich composted soil and old-growth forests, just waiting to be freed by pioneers clear-cutting New England&rsquos forests — a process that reached its peak across most of New England between 1830 and 1880.

Deforestation and Exhumation

Glacial action produced the raw materials for stone wall building. Granite, the most common rock in New England, also predominates in stone walls. Credit: Kathleen Cantner, AGI, after Thorson, 2005.

Heating an average-sized New England farmhouse during the late 18th and early 19th centuries — which coincided with the waning years of the &ldquoLittle Ice Age,&rdquo the unusually cool climatic period that lasted from the mid-1300s to the mid-1800s — required burning up to 35 cords of cut wood a year. Considering that one cord is 3.6 cubic meters of wood, it is easy to understand why New England&rsquos cold winters, along with the construction of all those farm buildings, meant the demise of vast swaths of forest.

Widespread deforestation exposed New England&rsquos soils to winter cold — scientists estimate winter was 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius colder on average during the Little Ice Age than it is today — causing them to freeze deeper than they had before. This accelerated frost"heaving, and gradually lifted billions of stones up through the layers of soil toward the surface.

These stones weren&rsquot conducive to farming, so, aided by their oxen, farmers hauled the stones to the outer edges of pastures and tillage lands, typically unceremoniously dumping them in piles that delineated their fields from the forest. (Some of these so-called &ldquodumped walls&rdquo would later be relaid more intentionally when improved tools and equipment made rebuilding easier.) In the early days, artistry in stone wall building had to wait. The first priority was survival, which meant clearing land to grow crops and raise livestock.

At Harvard Forest — a 1,500-hectare forest laboratory and classroom established by Harvard University in 1907 in Petersham, Mass. — a series of dioramas in the Fisher Museum chronicles the landscape history of New England by depicting the changes on a single plot of land since the Colonial era. European settlement, and the beginning of deforestation, largely occurred in the 18th century. By the mid-19th century, 60 to 80 percent of the land had been cleared. After farming began to decline, abandoned pastures and fields rapidly developed into white pine forests, which obscured the stone walls. The pines were logged and succeeded by the mixed hardwoods seen today. Credit: photos by John Green, courtesy of Harvard Forest, Harvard University.

The types of stones and their abundance may have been familiar to those early farmers, who were mainly from the British Isles, Thorson says, because rock in New England is similar to rock in England and Scotland. England and New England have similar natural landscapes because both lands have a similar geologic history. Millions of years ago, England and New England were formed within the same mountain range near the center of Pangaea. So, he says, &ldquothe similar fieldstones on opposite sides of the Atlantic were created practically within the same foundry.&rdquo

But there was one important difference between these New World and Old World stones: Britain had long been deforested, with its subterranean stones brought to the surface, so its stone walls had been constructed hundreds, if not thousands, of years earlier.

Monumental Effort

Although the oldest documented stone wall in New England dates to 1607 — made by English settlers of the Virginia Company along the estuary of the Kennebec River north of Portland, Maine — most of the region&rsquos stone walls were built in the Revolutionary period between 1775 and 1825, a period that Thorson calls &ldquothe golden age of stone wall building.&rdquo By then, the effects of deforestation on the soil were being fully felt established farms were churning up tons of stones that had to be removed. Simultaneously, a post-Revolutionary War baby boom provided an abundance of young hands to help move them.

During this period, thousands of stone walls were built and thousands more were improved. Thorson writes in &ldquoStone by Stone&rdquo that &ldquofarmers throughout the region began to look inward at their farms, not as safe havens from war, but out of pride in being American.&rdquo Their pride was reflected in the way they painstakingly refashioned the piles of stone and primitive dumped walls along their property lines into the now classical &ldquodouble walls,&rdquo parallel rows of stone filled in with small stones (see sidebar, page 34).

Constructing the walls was labor intensive. For comparison, modern masons typically lay about 6 meters of stone wall per day, Thorson says. He estimates that 40 million &ldquoman days&rdquo of labor would have been required to build the more than 380,000 kilometers of stone walls in New England — enough to build a wall from Earth to the moon — reported by an 1871 fencing census. &ldquoThis is an awesome amount of manual labor,&rdquo he says, &ldquobut it is trivial when compared to the much larger effort of getting stones to the edges of the fields in the first place. That job usually had been done stone by stone, and load by load, by the previous generation.&rdquo

Over a couple of generations, New England&rsquos vast stone wall network was erected, and by the 1830s to 1840s, farms were also well established and farmers were no longer clearing as much land, said Christie Higginbottom, a research historian at Old Sturbridge Village, in the documentary &ldquoPassages of Time.&rdquo Old Sturbridge Village is a living museum of 1830s rural New England life located in Sturbridge, Mass.

As the 19th century progressed, changes in farming, in the nature of work, and in the political climate in the country all profoundly affected New England&rsquos stone walls.

The Industrial Revolution and the Decline of Farms

Farming was ubiquitous in Colonial America. Generations of subsistence farmers cleared and wrung their families' nourishment from the land. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, however, that began to change. The establishment in 1787 of America&rsquos first cotton mill — the Beverly Cotton Manufactory in Beverly, Mass. — launched one of the greatest transformations and population shifts in the young nation&rsquos history. The American Industrial Revolution brought to New England&rsquos cities thousands of young women and girls, in particular, who left behind their cooking, spinning, weaving and various other farm chores to earn money for their families as hired laborers in the region&rsquos proliferating textile mills.

Robert Frost's poetry imbued New England's stone walls with mythological significance. He wrote about this stone wall, on his farm in Derry, N.H., in his poem "Mending Wall." Credit: top: Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram &amp Sun Collection right: CCA 3.0

Farming itself was also changing dramatically with the invention of new tools, such as the cast-iron plow, and a more scientific approach to farming that maintained the soil&rsquos fertility. Even these tools couldn&rsquot help farmers recover from the so-called &ldquoYear Without a Summer&rdquo in 1816, when the massive eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 ejected ash and particulates into the global atmosphere, causing a &ldquovolcanic winter&rdquo that devastated crops. Between the loss of a year&rsquos harvest and the start of an industrial depression in 1819, many more New Englanders abandoned their farms — and with them, the stone walls — to push westward into New York, Ohio and beyond

By mid-century, the exodus from the farms caused what Thorson calls a &ldquopsychological curtain&rdquo to descend upon the land and a &ldquobiological curtain&rdquo to arise, as vegetation overgrew many n"glected old walls. &ldquoIf you walk away from walls in an open landscape,&rdquo if there are no cows to keep field" mowed, he says, &ldquothe walls are going to get covered with brush very quickly and they&rsquore going to disappear. The white pines are going to shoot up. Within a decade of walking away from them, you&rsquore going to have trouble seeing them.&rdquo

Reclaiming and Romancing the Stone

As early as 1850, naturalist Henry David Thoreau revealed in his journal how the rural stone walls had already come to represent something important about the character of New England. &ldquoWe are never prepared to believe that our ancestors lifted large stones or built thick walls,&rdquo he wrote. &ldquoHow can their work be so visible and permanent and themselves so transient? When I see a stone which it must have taken many yoke of oxen to move, lying in a bank wall &hellip I am curiously surprised, because it suggests an energy and force of which we have no memorials.&rdquo

During the Colonial Revival of the early 20th century, Americans — particularly those well-off enough to reimagine the nation&rsquos past as a series of idealized Currier and Ives lithographs — began to collect artifacts of that past, such as old farm tools, and to reconstruct early villages. People refurbished rural stone walls on properties that had been abandoned generations earlier.

It was American Poet Laureate Robert Frost, perhaps more than anyone else, who imbued New England&rsquos stone walls with mythological significance. Frost&rsquos poetry helped solidify the heroic, all-American image of the Yankee farmer — independent, self-reliant and resilient — standing up, defiantly, to the relentless stone. Thorson says that for Frost, &ldquostone walls were more than symbols. They were oracles.&rdquo

A lidar study by University of Connecticut geographers Katharine Johnson and William Ouimet revealed the remnants of a former "agropolis" of farm roads and fences hidden by new-growth forest. Credit: K. Johnson and W. Ouimet, J. Arch. Sci., 2014.

Through Frost and other writers and artists, Thorson says, New England &ldquolearned to love its stone walls more as memorials to a lost world than they had ever been loved as fences.&rdquo And with the growing appreciation of America&rsquos heritage came an increasing understanding of the walls as actual ruins of early American civilization and the awesome human achievement they represent, he says.

A March 2014 study in the Journal of Archaeological Science offers a fascinating glimpse of what lies beneath the forests that now envelop many New England farms abandoned in the latter half of the 19th century.

Using a laser mapping technique called lidar that can see landscapes even through dense forest cover, University of Connecticut geographers Katharine Johnson and William Ouimet conducted aerial surveys of the heavily forested areas of three southern New England towns. The researchers found remnants of a former &ldquoagropolis,&rdquo vast networks of roads and stone walls that have been hidden for more than a century beneath the dense cover of oak and spruce trees.

Between lidar&rsquos ability to pull back the biological curtain of the forest and Frost&rsquos pulling back the psychological curtain drawn against the pain of abandonment, Thorson muses, it would seem that science and poetry together finally &ldquoallow us to actually see things that everyone knew were there all along.&rdquo

Through his work with the Stone Wall Initiative at the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, Thorson says he intends to ensure that stone walls — New England&rsquos iconic landform — will continue to be seen by many generations to come.

© 2008-2021. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the expressed written permission of the American Geosciences Institute is expressly prohibited. Click here for all copyright requests.


The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England. It meanders its way through the hills and forest of Northern New England between Vermont and New Hampshire and discharges itself in Long Island Sound. This leviathan consumes over 11,263 sq miles of the Northeast. Traced by many cities and small towns, it’s an icon of the New England lifestyle. Though seemingly beautiful and peaceful by day, its undulating coils hide many stories and secrets along its path to the Devil’s Belt. One is a mysterious glowing thing that lurks in its waters.

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Hidden within the undulating arm of the Connecticut River is a serpent that has frightened those who’ve lived on it banks since colonists first settled there. Often it has been described as an eel or snake-like serpent over one hundred feet long. Though over the past three hundred years it has been spotted by people across three states, it still appears to remain a mystery.

In the early 1800s, spotting strange creatures off the coast of Connecticut was not uncommon. Sailors would return to port with tales of ghastly leviathans they encountered in their travels. The most peculiar of these stories frequently surfaced in the local publications. One that crossed the pages of the New York Times and Scientific American was not reported by sailors at sea, but by people deep in the heart of Connecticut. This beast appeared to make its home in the Connecticut River.

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W ashington Irving wrote of the Headless Horseman, a tale of a Hessian of Sleepy Hollow who had lost his head in war. It’s a wonderful story that all enjoyed in their childhood. In RI though there is a more gruesome tale of a headless spirit in Swampton. This story may even predate Irving’s tale, and cause most to shudder in fear, when alone on Indian Corner Road.

In the early 1800s a large portion of Swampton consisted of over grown forest and wetlands. Virtually all of the roads that traverse through the wilds of this portion of RI didn’t have names. Often the locals would apply names to them that best described their location. While some were adorned with pleasant names like Rathbun and Sunnyside others had much more gruesome rubrics. Dark Corners, Purgatory Rd, and Robbers Corner carried names that both identified them and warned the weary traveler. Though most names changed over time, there are those who’s now formal name still carries the spirit of its location. Indian Corner is the most interesting and frightening of those lonely byways.

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While digging through the archives in 2013, I stumbled across a fantastic story in the Dec 3, 1888 edition of the New York Times about a cave in Connecticut known as Sutcliffe Cavern. According to the article it had been discovered four years earlier in North Stonington, Connecticut while digging out the cellar on the Sutcliffe farm. It soon became a popular stop for local pleasure parties.

I had never before heard about this cave before nor do I live far from North Stonington. I thought I found a real treasure, and couldn’t wait to rediscover it. Anxiously, I read on and the details of this cave soon revealed that it was a treasure, but not the kind I first thought it was. The article claimed that Polly Sutcliffe, Known local as “Aunt Polly”, believed that a pot of gold was hidden in her basement. She had dreamed about the gold for three weeks. When laborers began digging the cellar for her home they soon broke through into the cave. (more&hellip)

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Along the northern border of Vermont is a finger lake known as Lake Memphremagog. It’s the second largest lake in the state and is shared by Canada. Though a seemingly tranquil spot, it has been the home of many tales of a strange and frightening beast a mysterious monster that some say the local Indians warned the settlers to avoid.

The creature in Lake Memphremagog has long been a part of the lore of the Abenakis, the indigenous people who gave the lake its name. When the settlers arrive the Abenakis warned the settlers not to bathe or swim in the lake due to a predatory monster that patrolled the lake and was known to devour unsuspecting humans.


The Great New England Hurricane

Without warning, a powerful Category 3 hurricane slams into Long Island and southern New England, causing 600 deaths and devastating coastal cities and towns. Also called the Long Island Express, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was the most destructive storm to strike the region in the 20th century.

The officially unnamed hurricane was born out a tropical cyclone that developed in the eastern Atlantic on September 10, 1938, near the Cape Verde Islands. Six days later, the captain of a Brazilian freighter sighted the storm northeast of Puerto Rico and radioed a warning to the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service). It was expected that the storm would make landfall in south Florida, and hurricane-experienced coastal citizens stocked up on supplies and boarded up their homes. On September 19, however, the storm suddenly changed direction and began moving north, parallel to the eastern seaboard.

Charlie Pierce, a junior forecaster in the U.S. Weather Bureau, was sure that the hurricane was heading for the Northeast, but the chief forecaster overruled him. It had been well over a century since New England had been hit by a substantial hurricane, and few believed it could happen again. Hurricanes rarely persist after encountering the cold waters of the North Atlantic. However, this hurricane was moving north at an unusually rapid pace–more than 60 mph𠄺nd was following a track over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

With Europe on the brink of war over the worsening Sudetenland crisis, little media attention was given to the powerful hurricane at sea. There was no advanced meteorological technology, such as radar, radio buoys, or satellite imagery, to warn of the hurricane’s approach. By the time the U.S. Weather Bureau learned that the Category 3 storm was on a collision course with Long Island on the afternoon of September 21, it was too late for a warning.

Along the south shore of Long Island, the sky began to darken and the wind picked up. Fishermen and boaters were at sea, and summer residents enjoying the end of the season were in their beachfront homes. Around 2:30 p.m., the full force of the hurricane made landfall, unfortunately around high tide. Surges of ocean water and waves 40 feet tall swallowed up coastal homes. At Westhampton, which lay directly in the path of the storm, 150 beach homes were destroyed, about a third of which were pulled into the swelling ocean. Winds exceeded 100 mph. Inland, people were drowned in flooding, killed by uprooted trees and falling debris, and electrocuted by downed electrical lines.

At 4 p.m., the center of the hurricane crossed the Long Island Sound and reached Connecticut. Rivers swollen by a week of steady rain spilled over and washed away roadways. In New London, a short circuit in a flooded building started a fire that was fanned by the 100 mph winds into an inferno. Much of the business district was consumed.

The hurricane gained intensity as it passed into Rhode Island. Winds in excess of 120 mph caused a storm surge of 12 to 15 feet in Narragansett Bay, destroying coastal homes and entire fleets of boats at yacht clubs and marinas. The waters of the bay surged into Providence harbor around 5 p.m., rapidly submerging the downtown area of Rhode Island’s capital under more than 13 feet of water. Many people were swept away.

The hurricane then raced northward across Massachusetts, gaining speed again and causing great flooding. In Milton, south of Boston, the Blue Hill Observatory recorded one of the highest wind gusts in history, an astounding 186 mph. Boston was hit hard, and “Old Ironsides”–the historic ship U.S.S. Constitution–was torn from its moorings in Boston Navy Yard and suffered slight damage. Hundreds of other ships were not so lucky.

The hurricane lost intensity as it passed over northern New England, but by the time the storm reached Canada around 11 p.m. it was still powerful enough to cause widespread damage. The Great New England Hurricane finally dissipated over Canada that night.

All told, 700 people were killed by the hurricane, 600 of them in Long Island and southern New England. Some 700 people were injured. Nearly 9,000 homes and buildings were destroyed, and 15,000 damaged. Nearly 3,000 ships were sunk or wrecked. Power lines were downed across the region, causing widespread blackouts. Innumerable trees were felled, and 12 new inlets were created on Long Island. Railroads were destroyed and farms were obliterated. Total damages were $306 million, which equals $18 billion in today’s dollars.


Forgotten History: How The New England Colonists Embraced The Slave Trade

American slavery predates the founding of the United States. Wendy Warren, author of New England Bound, says the early colonists imported African slaves and enslaved and exported Native Americans.

Slavery and Colonization in Early America

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The ugliest chapter of American history, slavery, started earlier than you might think, in the early days of the New England colonies. Not only did some colonists import African slaves, they enslaved and exported Native Americans. My guest, Wendy Warren, scoured original documents from the 1600s, including ledgers, letters and wills for her new book, "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America." She's an assistant professor in the department of history at Princeton University.

Wendy Warren, welcome to FRESH AIR. Why did you want to write about slavery in the New England colonies?

WENDY WARREN: This project started as a fluke encounter with a passage in the middle of a 17th century travelogue written by a man named John Josselyn, who was an amateur scientist and who had come to the New England colonies on a sort of fact-finding mission for potential investors back home. So he wrote about the animals and plants he saw in New England for people who were very interested in what North America looked like. It was a new world to them, although not to Indians. And his role was to tell them what he saw.

In the middle of this travelogue, he wrote about an encounter he had had one morning while staying at the house of a man named Samuel Maverick, who owned an island in Boston's harbor. And Josselyn woke up, he said, to the sound of a woman crying at his window. When he went to ask her what was wrong, she sort of wailed at him but he couldn't understand what she was saying. So he went to Samuel Maverick to ask what had happened. And Samuel Maverick told him that he had wanted to have a, quote, "breed of negroes," and to that end, he had ordered an enslaved African man that he owned to, quote, "go to bed to her, willed she, nilled she." So willy-nilly, she wanted him to or not. And the man had done so. He had raped her. And she had been very upset by this and came the next morning to John Josselyn's window and complained about it.

So I read this story and I was struck. I was struck by two things, really. According to what I knew of American slavery, the development of chattel slavery in North America, it wasn't supposed to be happening this early, that it took the English a while to figure out how you could use chattel slavery. In particular, the idea that slavery could be inherited - that the child of an enslaved woman would be enslaved is an idea that you have to formulate. And American historians had said that that didn't happen till much later in the century, really with the development of cash crops. But this was happening in 1638. That was - struck me as odd.

And the second thing that was odd was of course where. It was in Boston. It was in New England, which never has a cash crop and isn't associated with slavery really at all, certainly not chattel slavery, and certainly not that early, which is the moment of stern Puritans in black hats. It didn't seem right to me.

GROSS: So you used the word chattel slavery. What was chattel slavery mean?

WARREN: So chattel slavery is commodified slavery. It's where people have a price. They can be bought and sold. It's where you have a price on your head.

GROSS: So what surprised me, too, reading your book was not just how early slavery had started in New England but also that Indians were enslaved.

WARREN: That's right. Indians were enslaved. It's not the primary objective of the English when they go to North America. What they want is the land. But the - there are Indians all over North America, of course, and they're not readily usable, I guess, as labor in the way that the Spanish - so the Spanish in Latin America encounter sedentary civilizations, large sedentary civilizations, and by sort of allying or co-opting the authorities who are already in charge of those sedentary civilizations, they are able to harness the labor to their own ends.

But that doesn't exist in North America. You have much more mobile populations, smaller, more scattered populations. And they're not useful as a labor force. The English, moreover, want the land really. They want to settle. They want to establish what we call a settler colony, where large numbers of English people come over of both sexes and what they want is to establish sort of satellite little Englands or New Englands. In that sense, Indians are in the way. Some of them are removed by wars. So a very bloody process of.

GROSS: And removed, you mean, like, killed?

WARREN: Killed or displaced. Some, it turns out, are actually sold, war captives. About a thousand at least, maybe, are sold to the West Indies, part of the Atlantic slave trade.

GROSS: Yeah, so it's just a really weird thing happening in New England. They're importing slaves from the West Indies, slaves who came from Africa, and at the same time, the New England colonists are exporting Indian slaves. And so, like, one logical question is since you have this back and forth trade of slaves - I just feel weird even asking this kind of thing about human beings, but - how come the New England colonists didn't use their Indian slaves as opposed to exporting them and as opposed to having to import slaves from the West Indies?

WARREN: Well, when you're dealing with chattel slavery and you're going to keep slaves under pretty violent conditions, it's safer, I guess, to export them, so African slaves are exported far from their land of origin. It's harder for them to rebel, run away. And I think keeping enslaved Indians, similarly, in New England would be very dangerous.

They have friends and kin around who might rescue them. They know the terrain. It's easier to sell them at a slight profit to the West Indies. And so in some cases - not in all cases, but in some cases, that was done.

GROSS: What kind of numbers are we talking?

WARREN: Well, the numbers are tricky but certainly hundreds, perhaps as many as a thousand are sold out. It's all very hard to quantify.

GROSS: So you write that slavery and colonization went hand in hand. In what respect?

WARREN: So New England is a group of colonies - what we call New England is a group of colonies on the periphery of the English Empire, so to speak. They're not very important, seemingly. You know, they don't have a cash crop. They're not very profitable in and of themselves. But what they can do is carry and provide for the West Indies, which are really, really important because they're growing sugar, the crop of this time.

And so New England, while it never has a very large population of slaves within the colonial borders, is deeply connected to the West Indies. So New England we - again, we think of it as this place of pious people doing some sort of pious labor. And they're succeeding through, you know, the Puritan work ethic.

To some extent, that's true, I suppose. But it's also very true that they're deeply connected to this other kind of colonization, this other kind of world going on further south in the Caribbean.

GROSS: So the sugar, the tobacco that they were relying on, you know, early in the history of the English colonies in New England, that all came from the West Indies, which relied on African slaves for labor.

WARREN: Right, so in the West Indies, you have one of the most deadly forms of slavery ever invented, sugar slavery. But it's also hugely profitable. So you have large numbers of African slaves being imported into these islands where you're growing this crop, sugar, which is making immense profits. But it's killing these slaves at huge rates as well - 50 percent mortality rates and higher in these islands.

Because sugar is so profitable, these islands are given over entirely to this crop, which means they're not growing their own food. They don't have wood to create houses, and they don't - they're not bothering to be the carriers of the produce of what they're producing. New England merchants are happy to step in here.

So by the 1660s, 1670s, for example, in Boston's harbor, one historian has estimated over half the ships are going directly to or from the West Indies. And that's a lot. That's a strong connection early on in these Puritan colonies to this deadly enterprise going on down in the south.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is historian Wendy Warren. We're talking about her new book "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America." Let's take a short break here, and we'll talk some more. This is FRESH AIR.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, my guest is historian Wendy Warren who teaches at Princeton. She's the author of the new book "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America." So when we think of the Puritans in New England, we think of them as having come here for religious freedom.

But there were some Puritans who actually owned enslaved Africans. And it's hard to reconcile this vision of religious freedom with the practice of slavery. How was that reconciled? Like, what was their justification that they used to justify this to themselves?

WARREN: Well, I wouldn't say that they came for religious freedom, or I guess I would limit that a little and say they came for freedom for themselves, to practice as they wish. But they certainly weren't embracing any sort of melting pot. They were actually quite exclusive of anyone they felt veered from their doctrine.

GROSS: Not about diversity (laughter).

WARREN: No, they were not about diversity. They were, in fact, leaving because they wanted more exclusive control over what was appropriate. So if they were exceptionally exclusive, they were not unusual in embracing slavery. The Bible approved of it, they felt. And the English approved of it, so did all of Europe. It wasn't anything anyone was questioning at the time.

And so in that sense, they weren't very exceptional at all. They didn't have any problem with slavery.

GROSS: And even, like, John Winthrop, who wrote about the Puritan mission in New England and wrote the famous phrase about we shall be as a city upon a hill, his son - was it? - became a slave owner.

WARREN: Right, so several of his sons were involved in West Indian slavery. Some of them were trading with the West Indies pretty aggressively. Samuel Winthrop, I think, was his 12th son and owned a plantation in Antigua. I think when he died, he owned 60 slaves. John Winthrop Jr., who stayed in New England mostly, owned slaves.

And Henry Winthrop, who was kind of the family ne'er-do-well, went early to Barbados and tried to get into cash crops and slavery. At no point did John Winthrop Sr. object to any of this, and nor is there any reason he should have, according to the temper of the times.

GROSS: I have to say, when I was in school, and I'm talking about, like, you know, grade school, high school, during the times when we learned about slavery, we never learned about slavery in the North. We never learned about the enslavement of Native Americans. Did you?

WARREN: No, I mean, No. I grew up in California. We hardly learned about New England at all, to be sure.

GROSS: (Laughter) Oh, we had to sing songs about the Pilgrims growing up in Brooklyn.

WARREN: No, it was a little exotic for us, New England. But I just had two kids go through kindergarten. They both did sort of the pilgrim play for Thanksgiving. And it wasn't exactly what I write about, I should say. There's a lot more friendly - you know, the term colonial New England, when I encounter people in airplanes or wherever I encounter people who find out I'm a historian, and they hear colonial America or colonial New England, colonial, that adjective, is really just a place marker for them.

It's this synonym with ye old or quaint. You know, it doesn't mean what it actually means, which is the process of colonization, this bloody process of removal and replacement and clearing of land and warfare. It's just - it's very sanitized in the mind - and of my students. They don't really know what happened.

So I don't think you're alone in not having learned about the role of slavery. And you're certainly not alone in maybe not of learning about what colonial New England was about or colonial America.

GROSS: For the colonists who came here, how familiar were they with the institution of slavery? England was a slave trading country, but how many slaves were actually in England?

WARREN: I don't know how many slaves were in England. We know that Elizabeth complained in 1596, I think. She said that there were too many slaves in London - she meant African slaves - too many already. So they're involved. John Hawkins is a famous trader early on in the 16th century. His coat of arms actually has a slave on it, a man in bondage, an African slave.

The English get to colonization later than the Spanish and Portuguese. They're a little - England's behind the times, you could say. So they rushed to catch up in the 17th century. The Spanish have already been in Latin America by that point since, you know, 1492. So the English are over a century behind the Portuguese and Spanish.

In a way, that helps them because many things have been established already. They don't have to figure everything out from scratch. They've heard what the Spanish have encountered. So things are less surprising, certainly. But they're behind the times.

GROSS: So the first documents kind of legalizing slavery and setting out the justification and legalization come from the New England colonies. And the first one is in 1641, ironically named the Body of Liberties. You're right, it's based on the Magna Carta. And there's this phrase in it that says it is ordered by this court and the authority thereof that there shall never be any bond slavery or captivity among us unless it be lawful captives taken in just wars and such strangers as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us.

I mean, wow, it's basically saying there will not be any slavery unless we buy the slaves. (Laughter) I mean, am I interpreting that incorrectly?

WARREN: No, I think that's right. You know, they're Puritan. They're concerned about - they have a sort of legalistic mind that you could almost say, are they doing things by the book, literally? They're very invested in one particular book. And so they write down these laws in 1641, which are based on English law, based on many precedents.

But there is this line, as you just quoted, that suggests initially if you read it, that there isn't going to be any slavery. And then there's this unless that's so capacious as to negate the whole first part of the line. And then in fact, they do have bond slavery. And they have it very early.

They have it at the time those laws are written, as evidenced by what Samuel Maverick is doing in Boston's harbor.

GROSS: So then other colonies adopt laws. There's the Connecticut code of laws of 1646. And that made reference to Indian and African slavery as a legitimate form of punishment for wrongdoing. Would you explain that?

WARREN: Oh, well, it seems that slavery is a legitimate punishment. It seems that if you committed certain crimes and you were a certain kind of person, although sometimes English people are sent away initially in the - early in the century, that perpetual slavery is a punishment you could face, which is very interesting.

And so early on in the 1640s in Connecticut, they're acknowledging that there's a trade out of the region, that you could be sold out of the region or kept in the region as a perpetual slave.

GROSS: So would this mean that if you were a Native American and did anything that was considered lawbreaking by the colonists' laws, such as resisting colonization, that you therefore could be legally enslaved?

WARREN: Well, sure. And this is where the idea of just wars comes into play. They say if you've been captured in a just war, and, of course, the wars of colonization for most English colonists are just wars because they're bringing Christianity and civilization to this land. So by nature - by definition, they're just wars.

GROSS: And the people who are writing the laws are the people who are behind all of this, so of course they're going to be just in those people's mind.

WARREN: Yes, as is always the case throughout history, (laughter) that seems to be the case here as well. So if you're fighting against the English, you are, by definition, you know, a combatant in an unjust - you're on the unjust side. And so, yes, you could be sold for perpetual slave.

GROSS: You write about how terrifying it must have been for Africans who were taken away on slave ships, who survived The Middle Passage coming to, in this case, the islands of the Caribbean, and then having to be forced to board another ship to New England, which is what happened to some of the Africans who were enslaved.

They didn't know where they were going. They didn't know how long the voyage would be. And surviving The Middle Passage was, you know, almost impossible, I think. So to endure that and then have to go back on a ship must have been just incomprehensibly horrible, terrifying.

WARREN: Yeah, I mean, these records - this is a horrible period to write about. And certainly, it's not hard to get overwhelmed by the trauma that these people must have endured. In the 17th century, if you ended up in New England, you had almost certainly been taken from West Africa. So you had undergone a traumatic removal from your own family in a war or a raid, already sort of a life-altering experience most people would have a hard time recovering from.

Even undergone The Middle Passage - up to three months in a horrible early modern ship, tight packed in for maximum efficiency and probably also maximum discomfort, huge mortality rates onboard, very violent experience - you end up in Barbados. Almost certainly, most ships in the 17th century went first to the West Indies. So you've seen sugar slavery - as I said, one of the deadliest institutions known in early modern history.

And then but what is, as you point out, interesting to me is if you ended up in New England at some point, you almost certainly got back on another ship. While we don't have any records, I mean, to write this book required a lot of - developing a lot of empathy with the time period and sort of trying to understand what happened.

But certainly, what happened is you got on another boat and you didn't know where you were going. So I've always wondered, did you think you were going to repeat The Middle Passage and go somewhere worse? And how on earth did you get on the boat, if that was what you thought? Did you have any idea where you were going?

And when you got off the boat in New England, what on earth did you think? And I know that one thing that must've struck any enslaved African who got off the boat in Boston or Salem, was just how few other Africans would have been around for the first time because Barbados was heavily populated - I mean, was heavily majority enslaved Africans.

GROSS: My guest is Wendy Warren, author of the new book "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America." We'll talk more after a break. Also, rock historian Ed Ward will tell us about an obscure American band that helped kick off London's pub rock movement. And writer Sarah Hepola will explain how giving up drinking led her to rethink casual sex.

I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with historian Wendy Warren, the author of a new book about slavery in the New England colonies called "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America." It's based in part on original documents from the 1600s, including journals, letters, ledgers and wills.

So the first anti-slavery publication was published in 1700. It was called "The Selling Of Joseph" by Samuel Sewall. He was a wealthy Boston merchant and chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. What did this publication advocate?

WARREN: So Samuel Sewall's an interesting guy. He was involved in the Salem witchcraft trials, and he was the only judge to later publicly recant his participation in those trials. He stood up in front of a congregation and apologized. He said he was wrong. So he's a man given to self reflection. He's not above humbling himself in public. And he writes this pamphlet called "The Selling Of Joseph" in which he says, basically, he's troubled by the numbers of slaves that he sees in Boston and he wonders if this is an OK thing. And he says, no, it's not, that this is not God's work, that we're bringing these slaves and then we're not helping them and it's wrong.

And it's a startling pamphlet to read. What's more interesting to me - so people often put him in sort of - he's the origin of a lineage of Northern anti-slavery sentiment. But what's more interesting to me is that he's actually, for his time, wrong. A man named John Saffin responds to him and rebuts him point for point. And according to the thought of the time, Saffin is right. He says, no, what are you talking about? There's a hierarchy in the world. God developed this hierarchy. Some people are born to serve, and this is them and the Bible justifies this.

He says, moreover, it's not wrong to take them from Africa because we're Christianizing them, you know, what do you mean that that isn't right? Of course we're saving them.

And Sewall's pamphlet falls into oblivion, really. It's not, (laughter), it's not welcomed by anyone in the region. His own son later advertises for slaves. So even in his own family, he has little effect.

GROSS: So you read a lot of documents from the period, from the 1600s when you were doing your book, and I'm interested in hearing about the experience of reading these documents - wills, ledgers, journals - that talk in very, like, straightforward terms about slavery, you know, just, like, that's a fact of life, it's what these people do. They own slaves. They buy slaves. They sell slaves.

Did you get your hands on original documents?

WARREN: Oh, yeah. A lot of the book is original manuscripts, which historians call primary sources. So it's reading handwriting from the 17th century, the archaic spelling. In fact my spelling has gone to pot because I know, you know, I read so many idiosyncratic spellings of words. They're all over New England Archives, these manuscripts. And, yes, as you said, they they sort of casually mentioned slavery in the oddest places. You know, I was reading a cobbler account book and turned the page, and they made six pairs of shoes for - the word they used is [expletive], which means, you know, African slaves. They're doing - they're making a different sort of shoe, is the implication for an African slave, probably a lesser quality shoe. And then there's these tragic stories that appeared throughout the records.

So one problem with my source base is that enslaved people usually only appear in records when they've run afoul of authorities. In that sense, it's a skewed population that in that I'm mostly dealing with people who have committed some sort of offense, and that's probably not how most people live their lives. Most people get along and sort of live normal lives. I saw a lot of people when they're caught in fornication records, particularly pregnant people because the evidence is very visible, and those cases could be very sad and compelling. There was one case.

GROSS: Can I interrupt here and say that fornication, marriage, having children - those were all outlawed for slaves.

WARREN: Some people did it, but technically it's not approved of. Yes.

GROSS: So it's criminal if you did?

WARREN: Yes. Fornication for everyone - that is, say, sex outside of marriage, is an infraction that has to be dealt with.

GROSS: But probably not if you're a slave owner raping a slave?

GROSS: That's probably - that's probably acceptable under the law.

WARREN: Yeah, maybe. I don't know of any - there weren't any instances where slave owners were accused of doing that in the records I looked at, although certainly we know from other places where slavery happened that that very well may have happened. There are pregnant slaves where fathers aren't named, and it would be very easy to place suspicion upon an owner or someone around in a position of authority, but that never came to light in these records.

But there are very tragic cases. There's a woman who's impregnated. She's Indian, and she's in a house in Weymouth, Mass., and she's having a horrible pregnancy. And the woman who owns her, her mistress, you know, brings another colonist to examine her and they talk about how bad the pregnancy has been. There's discharge, and she's in pain. And it sounds horrible, as pregnancy could be for early modern women. So they bring in other women to examine her. There's some concern about the pregnancy. The baby's eventually stillborn. But what's interesting to me is this woman doesn't give birth in the house of her owner when she feels labor coming on. She runs away and goes to a house of an Indian family nearby. And what's interesting to me about that is how her actions sort of give lie to protestations of benevolence from her owners even though they've brought in people to take care of her and look at her pregnancy and inspect her, when labor happened, she leaves them and she goes somewhere else for support.

GROSS: Isn't one of your areas of research now sexuality during slavery, in slave systems?

WARREN: Now it is. Yes, after this book.

GROSS: After this book. And why are you researching that?

WARREN: You know, it's interesting to think of how people fulfill basic needs in systems that try to prevent that. Right now I'm interested in enslaved women who find themselves in the Caribbean in long-term relationships with their owners and how they navigate what is essentially a long-term situation of rape from which they derive some material benefits. I'm interested in what that experience is like in a situation where you're never allowed to refuse and yet you're somehow differentiated from your peers because of this special situation your owner has put you into.

GROSS: So in the work that you're doing now researching sexual relationships in slave systems, it's basically going to be a lot of rape.

GROSS: And that's going to be - just strikes me it's going to be a very, like, difficult subject to write about on two levels. One, finding the documentation. And two, I mean, that's a lot of suffering in addition to the suffering of just being enslaved and not having freedom, you're also being raped.

WARREN: Yeah, it's not - it wasn't an easy experience, slavery or colonization, to be colonized. And it's not easy to research, I'll say that. You take a lot of breaks. But I think it's important. It's rewarding in a way to bring these people, their experience, to life.

GROSS: I found it interesting in your acknowledgements at the end of the book, you thank Yale Graduate School's parents' support and relief policy, the U.K. statutory maternity leave and Princeton's family-friendly leave policies. And you write, (reading) Many people, mostly feminists, fought long and hard to achieve these kinds of policies and I'm very grateful to have benefited from their victories.

I was really glad that you chose to include that in the acknowledgements. And maybe you can describe a little bit how that enabled you as a mother to continue doing your work and to continue to have a career.

WARREN: You know, I had parent leaves, and people don't usually thank inanimate statutes in their acknowledgments, but I thought in this case - when I left graduate school, my cohort of friends scattered. Some went to wealthy institutions and some went to places that didn't have parent leave policies. And I thought it was worth acknowledging that I had been to places with generous policies and that they did help me write, I think, a better book and helped me keep my sanity (laughter).

GROSS: So the more that historians like you uncover about early American history and the American colonies and how slavery dates back that far, do you think that Americans need to constantly re-evaluate who we are as Americans and how our history was built? We certainly know a lot about slavery in the South. We're learning more about slavery in the North. But it sounds like understanding about slavery in the colonies, that that's still pretty new territory.

WARREN: I mean, I think speaking as and for colonialists, it would be great if we knew more about sort of the first two centuries of European colonization of North America. And it would be great if we understood that it wasn't a pleasant process, that it was time of warfare and brutality and a lot of fear and trauma. And it would be great if we understood that slavery was there right from the beginning, that it was embedded in the process of colonization, that in some cases it drove the process of colonization. I think that would be fantastic. What would it do for us? You know, as a country, I don't know, maybe offer us a little bit of humility about the origins. The Puritan story tends to be held up as an exemplar of a sort of noble endeavor. And while I think the Puritans had some sort of really idealistic goals, they lived in a pretty muddy world, and it's hard to keep your hands clean in that kind of world. And when it came to slavery, their hands weren't clean. Nobody's hands were clean.

GROSS: Wendy Warren, thank you so much for filling in on a chapter of very early American history that a lot of people don't know much about. Thank you for joining us.

WARREN: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

GROSS: Wendy Warren is the author of the new book, "New England Bound: Slavery And Colonization In Early America."

After a break, rock historian Ed Ward will tell us about an American band that helped start London's pub rock scene in the '70s. This is FRESH AIR.

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Government

The current President of the RNE is Howard Dean, and his Vice President is Barney Frank, both of the Progressive Social Democratic Party. The current Prime Minister is John Kerry of the PSDP. The PSDP has maintained a majority in both houses of congress since the RNE's inception, although there have been some highly popular presidents of the RNE have been members of the Centrist Party. There is a small but relevant Conservative Party in the RNE. They have never won more than a few seats in either house of congress, and have never had a successful presidential candidate.


Watch the video: Ποιοί ήταν οι Αργυράσπιδες; Ελληνικοί. Αγγλικοί υπότιτλοι - Αρχαία Ελληνική Ιστορία. Alpha Ωmega (June 2022).


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