Lecture – “Slavery in Colonial Rhode Island”
A Talk Given by Fred Zilian, Ph.D.
6:00 pm, Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022
Middletown Library, RI
The histories of colonial Rhode Island and of slavery in the New World are intimately connected. This talk will first describe the beginnings of slavery in the colony of Rhode Island, its growth in the colony in the 18th century, and Rhode Island’s key role in the Atlantic trading system. It will then examine the business of slavery in Bristol, Providence, “Narragansett County,” and Newport, including the demographics of slavery, the lives of the enslaved, and resistance to slavery. The talk will conclude with a brief description of the organization: Rhode Island Slave History Medallions (RISHM.org), and what it is doing to raise public awareness of the state’s slave history.
After a 21-year career as an infantry officer in the Army, Fred Zilian, Ph.D., was for 23 years an educator at Portsmouth Abbey School, where he taught history, ethics, and German. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Salve Regina University, Newport, RI, where he teaches history and politics. Zilian is a board member and heads the Education Committee of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions organization (RISHM.org).
He is also a contributor to The Hill and The History News Network, and a columnist for the Newport Daily News. He blogs with historical, political, social and cultural commentary at www.zilianblog.com. He lives in Portsmouth with his wife.