Category Archives: 1774 Freedom & Slavery HOT Log

Do Religious Morals Help Challenge Slavery or Make The Institution More Tolerable?

Connecticut, as well as the rest of the new world, heavily followed religion, specifically the Christian faith and its principles. Religion in Connecticut in the 1700’s was also in some ways was a social thing. As a matter of fact, in the article I found, it put religion under the titled paragraph “Social Conditions”. In that paragraph it explained that Connecticut was ranked at the bottom of the Puritan society. It also states that African Americans in Connecticut had some place in social order, and they followed Christian principles and attended the same churches as their owners or masters. Suffield was not one of the most religiously affluent towns in the new world. Because Suffield quickly became a wealthy, business oriented town, religion was not at the forefront of the lives of Suffield residents in comparison to the work residents did for benefits of money. After speaking with the tour guide at the King home this became very clear to me and helped me to understand why Suffield did not participate in early Puritanical beliefs. One of the biggest questions I ask in regards to religion and slavery is how early white citizens could justify their enslavement of blacks while they were fighting for their freedom because of a growing dissatisfaction with the British government and if religion ever helped to cause some sort of reconciliation to slavery. It turns out however, religion did not completely help with the sad use of slavery but it did in some ways bring slaves and their masters together because slaves did often attend church alongside their masters. With that being said, some religious leaders did speak out about slavery like Reverend Levi Hart of Connecticut in the year 1775. Hart wrote a 23-page letter to Samuel Hopkins who resided in Rhode Island that is sometimes called the “blueprint” to the abolition of slavery in the north. This letter questions the morality of slavery and also includes a possible payment formula for slavery. Hart mentions in his note in the Hartford Courant that slaves stealing was starting to become more and more of an issue and that he thinks that it is a result of the restrains put on the slaves by not only their masters, but the government as well. To better explain his concept here is a quote from the Hartford Current article

“As to their growing more vicious and disorderly and, in particular, more given to stealing by being made free, the prospect is, I think, quite the contrary, for then they will be members of the community and have a common interest with others in support of good order and preservation of private property, whereas now they have no property to be exposed and so no interest in good order.”

Because of the words of people like Hart, I know that slavery was indeed controversial although to some people more than others. As the population of African American people in Connecticut continued to grow, servitude became lifelong slavery. Because of the growth of slavery, religious leaders were eventually called upon to justify it so as a result unfortunately, many Puritan leaders turned to the parts within the bible that comprised slavery.

Another question I had asked myself was if there were differences in the treatment of black, mixed and Native American slaves. So far what I have found states that mixed people, mostly products of slave masters and their female black slaves would actually not be recognized by their fathers as white at all. In fact, they would be left for their mother to raise them and would be born into slavery and take the role of a slave in that particular home often, as their mothers did. Some of these children were so light skinned that to a common eye one would not be able to classify their skin as black. It also turns out that all three groups of people had to be off streets by 9 o’clock at night and stay in the towns they lived in because black people were not trusted. Perhaps for reasons like they would steal from their masters, which as Reverend Hart recognized was probably the outcome of their poor life conditions.


Essential Information for our Investigation.


My class and I are investigating what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. history of Suffield, Connecticut. Because the Boston Tea Party was a turning point for the colonies and their frustration with Parliament, we are trying to see how conversations of freedom and slavery were inspired by these events.
In response to the Boston Tea Party (1773), Parliament drafted the the Coercive Acts in 1774, and residents throughout the thirteen colonies protested these acts in various ways. For instance, our class first studied the western Massachusetts town of Sheffield, and learned that Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house; this group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Interestingly, we learned that one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by these conversations of protest and later sued successfully for her own freedom, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781). We are now trying to find out what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? What portion of citizens accepted the dictates of the British Parliament and refused to petition King George III? Who was neutral?

To begin our historical investigation, it is important for us to know more about the founding of Suffield as well as some of the traditions and attitudes of freedom and slavery. 

Suffield is a town in Hartford County. In fact, Suffield was called Southfield until 1674 because it being the southernmost town, that is why in some documents Southfield is referred to our well-known Suffield. (3)

Some people’s reaction to the Boston Tea Party was excitement for the future and some people viewed it as an act of vandalism. The reactions across the American colonies were mixed. Most people did want a peaceful revolution. People just wanted to have a productive trading relationship with England. They did not necessarily want to pay direct taxes levied by

parliament and the government. People of America would have been much more comfortable paying taxes to their local legislatures.

Connecticut, as a part of the thirteen original colonies, responded to the Boston Tea Party and the upcoming events. The day after the Tea Party took place, Connecticut had thrown its full weight behind the neighbors to the north, and was willing to do all CT could to support Boston.

Connecticut, based on the data, supported the loyalists. At the outbreak of the war, Connecticut consisted of six counties and 72 townships. According to the census of 1774, throughout these counties and townships, there existed some 25,000 males between the ages of 16 and 50, of whom about 2,000 identified themselves as Tories. (4) Nowhere was the presence of these individuals stronger than in the southwestern portion of the state, particularly in Fairfield County. (2) However, the question is: did Suffield? What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? Was the number of African-American effected in any way? I am looking forward to see what my classmates find in order to solve this part of the puzzle.

Slavery was common during the 18th century. We have colony of CT Census proving that in 1774 there were 37 slaves in Suffield.  The slaves were owned by wealthy merchants, tavern owners, Tobacco farm owners and town ministers and other influential people in town. We know that major John Pynchon had at least two slaves, Harry and Rocco, which means that other influential people of Suffield had slaves. (1) Suffield’s third minister, Reverend Ebenezer Devotion owned six slaves during this time period 1742-1796. Reverend Ebenezer Gay Jr. manumitted the family three remaining slaves in 1812. They were Titus, Ginny and Dinah. If we will be able to find out the names of people who had the most money in the town, we will be a step closer to solve this puzzle to find the right people who lived in Suffield in 1974. Using our deduction skills, we will dig deeper and deeper and eventually we will discover something that has been a secret for a while.

With the help of the Suffield Town Library, we have the access to the list of the earliest families of Suffield. By figuring out the century and what part of that century these people used to live, we would be able to tell who had slaves and then find out the names of all the thirty seven slaves lived in town in 1774.





I am a senior at and I am involved in a project-based learning class. Over the course of the winter term 2016 and the spring term 2017 the class main goal is to find out more about freedom, slavery, and the complexities in 1774. After the Boston Tea Party, the English Parliament drafted ”The Coercive Acts” in 1774. Many people throughout the thirteen colonies protested against these acts. For instance, in the town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house. This group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Moreover, one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by this and later successfully sued for her freedom. Each student in the class is investigating different areas regarding this topic. For instance, some of my peers are looking into: slaves in Suffield during this time, the Boston Tea Party, an slave called, Old ”Ti”.

I want to find out more about Loyalists in Connecticut, but mainly in Suffield. I started to look into Connecticut first in order to get a better understanding and perspective of the bigger picture, before I went deeper into Suffield`s history. By using critical thinking skills I have been able to gatherer some background information about Loyalists in the period after “the Declaration of independence” was written. The document formally announced the colonies break from Great Britain. However, a number of colonists were against this and sided with Britain. These were known as Loyalists. I have researched many interesting things regarding the Loyalist in Connecticut. I learned that during the American Revolution they made up approximately 20% of the population in the colonies, and that 6% of the adult population in Connecticut were Loyalists. This is approximately 2000 – 2500 of the people in the state, which I regard as a quite high number. But did Suffield have any Loyalists? And if so, who were they?

After research on the internet and by using cross-referencing skills, I found out that there is a document named; “Revered Samuel Peter´s list” in the Kent Memorial Library in Suffield.  Allegedly there were at least four Loyalist in Suffield in 1774. Their names were: Alexander King, Captain Shem Burbank, Seth Austin and Isaac Pomeroy. Now my plan is to get access to documents and this way  to learn more about the document. First, I will go to the Kent Memorial Library to look at the “Revered Samuel Peter´s list” first hand, to check if this information is right. If so, I will use research skills to figure out some major question, like: who were these men? Why did they come to Suffield? How long had they lived in Suffield before 1774? What was their standing and position in the town? Why did they support Great Britain? And did they have families, wives, children, etc? Another thing I would like to do next is to get access to the book/document: “Connecticut’s Loyalists”. I believe this document will tell us more about why the Loyalists in Connecticut sided with Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. Furthermore, I have one more person I would like to research: “Hannah Barton”. I learned about her by doing extensive research on the internet. She is an interesting person, because she was born in Suffield in 1774 and was supposedly the daughter of Roger Barton, a Loyalist from New York. The fact that she was born in Suffield might suggest that Barton also was in Suffield in the late 1700s.  I have yet not find anything to support this statement, but I hope to find more about this in the time to come.


Important Information about the Boston Tea Party


Boston Tea Party  (

I am currently enrolled in a Project Base Learning class. We are going to learn about what happened in Suffield, Connecticut, during 1774, specifically regarding the topics of freedom and slavery. We  created a blog to share what we learned about our town’s history. In our class, we have  13 students who explored different kinds of sub-topics related to our theme. Some people in our class researched about the myth base history of Old Ti in Suffield town. I want to research the background history about Boston Tea Party.

My topic is the background information about the Boston tea party that occurred on December,16, 1773. The Boston Tea Party was very important for our class because it was the beginning of many conversations about freedom throughout the colonies. As our class learned about Mum Bett from Sheffield, MA, who fought for her freedom, we will now turn our research goals and look into how the ideas of freedom in 1774 affected the African-American population in Suffield.  I also believe that good historians have to have a strong background information before they can conclude information. With concrete and supportive facts to their evidence, historians can write real history.

In Boston Tea Party event, I learned that colonists fought over the Tea Act of 1773 and enjoyed the financial benefits of smuggling tea. When three ships loaded with tea that belong to the East India Company entered Boston Harbour in late 1773, tensions among the residents grew and a violent protest began. Colonists dressed as Indians and threw the the company’s tea into Boston Harbour.

Boston Tea Party was the beginning of our theme, freedom. This protest inspired other colonies to support Boston when the British closed the port for punishment of the Tea Party. We will try to learn if the Boston Tea Party had an effect on the residents of Suffield. Was this an inspiration of freedom for them? This project requires many different kinds of skills. First, a skill that is required is an open mind. Then, I have to read many articles about Boston tea party and absorb a good deal information; however, I have to use maturity and wisdom to observe which information is biased and unbiased. The other skill that I have to work on is communication. Because my topic is important background information to our public presentation, I have to build a fact-based collection of information for other classmates so that their information can be trustful.

Historians Identifying Connecticut Slavery

I want to look more into an historian because the knowledge of the historian can answer a lot of unanswered questions. A historian can give us information that others would not have. Since having a first-hand experience with our investigation they can answer questions that we might have for them. Like how did slaves end up in Connecticut? How did they come across?

After doing some research trying to pull out as much information about this as possible. I have found something that can lead us into the right direction. Katherine Harris an African- American Historian has a lot of knowledge about this topic. She examines in an article about how slavery in Connecticut was legal until 1848 but people in the community had no clue. She says, “”It’s unfortunate because they don’t realize fortunes were made in this state based on slavery and the slave trade.” So people in Connecticut don’t even realize that majority of money that was first made in Connecticlogo-ctftut was from slavery.

From my online sources there are others sources that were being used like websites, books and museum programming. All of these sources were used to look into “secret” history and tell the untold stories to the public and educate people on information they have been missing out on for years. New research is constantly being added every day about this topic. There was another research on the slave ships that were used during the time period examined at the New London’s custom house Maritime museum. All of this research in different areas of the slave era in Connecticut could lead us to how slavery began in Connecticut. Another road to go down is the Connecticut Freedom Trail. From the research shows that actually, the freedom trail might also lead to stories of the Underground Railroad.

Dutch Ships in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

In our American studies class during the winter and spring of the class years 2016-2017, we are digging into the history of freedom and slavery in Connecticut and especially in Suffield during 1774. We are looking into how the Boston Tea Party, which happened in 1773, affected the rest of the states at that time, as well as how our state and town governments responded to it. I think learning about Old “Ti’s” family and about the Dutch ships they came on is crucial in understanding where these slaves may have originated from. The origin of these slaves and important facts about his family is vital in understanding the Colonial Slavery in Suffield. I think that learning about this history will help me understand more and helped me with my research into the Dutch slave ships.

It is important to understand how the transatlantic slave trade worked. “The majority of slaves transported to the New World were sold by Africans from central and western parts of Africa to European slave traders” (1). Slavery started way before the transatlantic slave trade. African tribes would sell slaves within the tribes. From my experiences in Cape Coast and Ghana, I’ve learned about the slave trade within tribes. Although this is no longer common, there is still slavery where children are sold to fishermen to be slaves. When the Europeans came to the central and western Africa, they opened slave castles whereof the slave trade would be conducted. After visiting one of the biggest slave castles in the coast in Ghana, the thing that stuck with me the most was “the door of no return.” this is the gate whereof many slaves departed through to get on their ship, and that most never return back through.

It is important to figure out whether Suffield was in a Dutch territory, because sometimes slave traders brought their slaves to other colonies. Even if we know that Titus came on a Dutch ship we need to figure out whether it was in a Dutch territory, and we can thereby trace where it came from.


Figure 1


From looking at figure 2 we can see the origin of many of the slaves that came on


Figure 2

Dutch ships. We can see that Dutch slaves mainly came from Ghana and Nigeria. From my research The Netherlands transported around 500,000 slaves during 2,000 journeys (3).

When it comes to the transatlantic slave trade, the Netherlands was not the biggest country involved, but the origin of the slaves they did export and how many is crucial in our research. I am looking into where the Dutch ships originated from, especially trying to find the origin of Titus, Old “Ti’s” father and mother, whom had a tattoo that suggested royalty. This could help us find information about where other slaves in Suffield are from, and find info about Mum Bett.


Identifying Suffield Founding Families and their Connection to Slavery and Freedom

My class and I are researching slavery and freedom in 1774, related to Suffield, Connecticut. I first researched the basics to discover that slaves arrived in Suffield as early as 1671. While researching this I discovered that a century later the African American residents of Suffield formed their own church; the Third Baptist Church of Suffield. This is where I would like to focus my research to see if any of the church’s founders were slaves in Connecticut. I tried to find more on this church; however, they have no website or information online discussing their history or founding. I hope to investigate the founder’s backstories through church and state archives to uncover their history and see if there is any correlation to the topic of Suffield slavery. I plan to reach out to the church through social media to inquire about records they may have. While this lead will take time to pursue, I continued my research and discovered that Connecticut had the largest slave population in New England during the time of the American Revolution. For instance, Seth Austin was part of one of the founding families of Suffield, and according to the 1790 census he had 5 slaves, which was the most of any Suffield family at that time. It is likely that he owned multiple slaves of which totaled part of the 37 Slaves listed in the 1774 census. His uncle Anthony Austin not only started the Suffield schooling system in 1796, but was also city commissioner andtown assessor (1). I believe this family should be investigated further as they have strong ties to the founding and development of Suffield. By analyzing the Austin Family tree I found that Anthony Austin’s great-grandson, Moses Austin, and his great-great grandson, Stephen F. Austin, were the founders of the first Anglo Colony in Texas, which became the town of Austin, Texas (2). Another prominent founding family was the King family. The King family had documents of their slaves listed among their cattle. In 1725 Elizabeth King and Anthony Austin were married, combining these two founding families. Considering both families were slave owners and very prominent in the community, I believe they may have archival evidence shedding some light on the slavery in Suffield. To investigate this theory further I looked into these families and their connections to fighting for freedom, and discovered men from both families were minutemen in the Battle of Lexington. Minutemen were civilians who organized and trained themselves to fight in battles during the Revolutionary War, supporting my hypothesis that they fought for freedom (3).

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