In our project-based learning class we are studying slavery and freedom in Connecticut in 1774. I started my research on the founding families of Suffield and ended up focusing on the Austin Family who were related to Stephen F. Austin, the founder of Austin, Texas. The Austins owned a popular tavern on main street that was visited by people like George Washington and John Adams. These taverns were popular place for gossip. Unlike todays bars, people in these coloniel taverns discussed politics like we would discuss sports and celebrities in modern day. The Austins also owned five slaves to help them run their house and the tavern. In relation to famous people at the Austin’s tavern, we found information in a journal from John Adams. In this journal he discusses his trip through the Northeast, and he mentions Suffield. He mentions that when traveling through Suffield, a group of militiamen trained with a man in a green coat. This goes against what most people know about the revolutionary war. This is because most people thought the militiamen were just untrained soldier who did guerrilla warfare. This diary entry from John Adams shows us that they were trained even if it was just a little bit. We also read through the Joseph Pease’s diary, but we didn’t really find anything that was important to our topic of slavery and freedom in 1774.
Next in my research I’d like to read more into John Adams’ diary and find all that I can in it. After this I would like to try to find out more of what slaves in Suffield during 1774 and maybe what the Austin family slaves did to help the tavern along with what they did to help around the house. I think if I can find more diaries, I might be able to find this information along with how people felt about slavery in Suffield compared to other people in the north and to people in the south. We know that 1/3 of the Connecticut militia was made up of people from Suffield. Thus I assume that they were against slavery, but I would like solid evidence.