Tag Archives: slavery

Browne Plantation


In my first blog, I wrote about Godfrey Malbone who, owning a 3000 acres farm in Pomfret, Ct with 27 slaves, was long thought to be the largest slave owner in Connecticut. However, during my research, I found out about an even larger plantation located in Salem, CT (“in what was then Lyme” CT). This plantation was 13,000 acres, had 60 slave families, and was owned by a wealthy Salem, Mass., merchant, Col. Samuel Browne.  Browne never lived on the land, but he hired overseers. He rented out large tracts but retained about 4,000 acres for himself that passed to his son and then his grandson.


Picture of Gerald Sawyer


The site of Browne’s plantation is being explored by archeologists from Central Connecticut State University, and the lead researcher is Gerald Sawyer.


“For perspective on the Salem plantation, Sawyer refers to new research done by anthropologist Robert Fitts in southern Rhode Island, an area better known for having had slave plantations. Combing Colonial records, Fitts found that most Rhode Island plantations had fewer than a dozen slaves, numbers similar to those in Virginia’s famed Tidewater region and that only three had as many as 19 slaves.

Sawyer’s excavations of the Salem plantation have unearthed artifacts believed to be from “known African-American ritual practice” and burial customs.


Lang, Joel. “Chapter One: The Plantation Next Door.” Courant.com. N.p., 12 July 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.courant.com/news/special-reports/hc-plantation.artsep29-story.html&gt;.

Schwartz, Sydney. “Yankee Slavery.” Archaeology Archive. Volume 54, Number 5, September/October 2001.  

Photo Credit:  http://archive.archaeology.org/image.php?page=0109/

Battle of Bunker Hill and Col. Thomas Grosvenor (1744-1835)

In my research on 1774 and Pomfret, CT, I discovered a specific soldier that fought in the Revolutionary War and who also happens to be from Pomfret, Connecticut. Thomas Grosvenor was the sixth child of John and Hannah Grosvenor. He served in the military, and one of the famous battles he participated in was Bunker Hill. He joined the 1st Co. 3rd Connecticut Regiment, which was commanded by Israel Putnam in the battle of Bunker Hill. He killed 9 British soldiers, and he was also wounded in his right hand, which he bound with a white cravat during battle. (Yale University Library)

FoE_Trumbull_Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor_0

Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant

The portrait, Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant, is a detail oil sketch from the picture of the Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull, which was painted 10 years after he painted the original. This repaint was requested by a French portraitist. In the picture, Grosvenor is standing with his “faithful servant.” Both of them are looking to their right anxiously. According to the Yale Center for British Art, they were considering whether to retreat or go help General Warren.

The African-American person standing behind Thomas Grosvenor often has been falsely identified as Peter Salem. However, recent research shows that he might be a slave of the Grosvenor family named Asaba, who is recorded as a free servant in later records. Asaba is noted in Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783 by David O. White. Asaba is also listed in National Mall Liberty Fund D.C.’s The Hometowns of Connecticut’s African American Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors and Patriots.

The Rectory School’s East part of the Main building was built by Col. Thomas Grosvenor in 1792; it was known as the Mansion House. “The house was always open to the chance visitor and for many years was a refuge for the remnants of Indian tribes that still lingered in Connecticut…” It is said that a young Mohican Indian danced upon the ridgepole as part of the celebration.



White, David. Connecticut’s Black Soldiers 1775-1783, Pequot Press, 1973.


Clement, Peter. “The Rectory School – Main House – Grosvenor Text.” Rectory School Archives, 2002.



African American slaves earned position by fighting in the Revolutionary War!



My second topic is how the Revolutionary War led to changes in laws about slavery and how people thought about the African-American slaves.

“By 1775 more than a half-million African-Americans, most of them enslaved were living in the 13 colonies including Connecticut.” Early in the 18th century, people suggested that slavery was against the original goal of this new nation, but they were ignored. By the 1760s, however, as the patriots began to speak out against British ruling, more Americans “pointed out the contradiction between advocating liberty and owning slaves.” Abigail Adams wrote in 1774, “it always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”



Abigail Adams

The idea of freedom and equalness of everyone spread widely. Thousands of slaves had high expectations for their future, and “many were ready to fight for a democratic revolution that might offer them freedom.” “In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. By 1776, more and more black people participated in the war.” However, the war didn’t give African-Americans the freedom they wanted.

African-Americans served as the “helper” in the army; their jobs were doing hard labors, carrying guns, cannons, and food, and making camps. They weren’t treated equally in the army in the beginning. However, after more and more men died in the war, they started to serve as formal soldiers in the army. The government even set up troops that are all formed by African Americans. The African Americans showed their bravery and wisdom during these years; some earned social position and respect from white soldiers. According to the data, “there were 820 soldiers from Connecticut, which represents 16 percent of the known 5,000 African Americans who served from the 13 colonies and territories. Ten of them are from Pomfret, they are “CAESAR, CATO, DICK, GROSVENOR, ASABA, JAMES, LEWIS/LUIS, SQUIB, CHRISTOPHER, JEREMIAH, WAMPFE and JOSH.”

African-American soldiers doing labor


After the patriots won the Revolutionary War, more and more people started looking for equality and liberty for black people as they had contributed in the Revolutionary War. Some of them felt bad because according to the Continental declaration, everyone was born as equal and free. They began to find a way to change the treatment of the African-Americans. Their efforts were seen by the government, and in 1784, The “Gradual Emancipation Act” declared that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784, were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25.

I think the African-American soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War earned their rights through hard-working and bravery. They made efforts to change people’s opinion of them, they proved that they were warriors, not slaves. They could fight the same as the white people.

Sources: http://libertyfunddc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/WINDHAM-COUNTY-BACKGROUND-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-RESOLUTION.pdf




Photo Credits: http://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-essays-timelines-images/african-americans-and-the-american-revolution/(image included in here)




Changing in Laws about Slavery in Connecticut.

This image is about the law passed by the Connecticut Government on in 1784, which declares that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784 were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25. On the right side, it was the law that states the abolition of slavery. https://ctexplored.org/no-taxation-without-representation-voting-petitions-in-connecticut/


My class is investigating the topics of freedom and slavery in Connecticut around the year 1774.  My first research is on the laws on slavery that were passed in Connecticut. As we knew laws are made by the state government and the government is elected by citizens of the state. Through the changing in the laws, we could see the changing of ideas of the citizens toward slavery. The ideas of slavery have been studied in people’s minds since a long time ago, however, the ideas changed during the Revolutionary War. I want to do research about the effect on slaves in these years, and what are the events that led to the changing in laws. Here is a timeline of what happened with the laws in the years around the Revolutionary War.


A comprehensive act “concerning Indian, Mulatto and Negro Servants, and Slaves” is passed. It restates several earlier laws: travel beyond town boundaries is prohibited without a pass for free and enslaved Negroes; violating the 9 p.m. curfew is punishable with a whipping; the last owner of a freed slave and the last employer of a servant are financially responsible for that person for life; the importation of Indians into Connecticut is banned.


The census records enumerate 3,019 African Americans and 617 Native Americans living in Connecticut; it does not distinguish between free and enslaved. There were about 15 native American slaves and about 100 African slaves in Pomfret.


The colony estimates a population of approximately 4,590 African Americans and 930 Native Americans.


The importation of “Indian, Negro or Mulatto Slaves” to Connecticut is banned.

The total number of African Americans in Connecticut is 5,085. The colony’s census did not distinguish free from enslaved. There were 334 African Americans and 825 Native Americans in Pomfret.

Roughly half of all ministers, lawyers, and public officials in Connecticut own slaves, and a third of all doctors.


The “Gradual Emancipation Act” declares that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784, were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25.


State legislation outlaws the slave trade in Connecticut, prohibiting the import of Africans and the export of African Americans for sale, and requires every slave owner to register the births of every child born into slavery in their household with their town clerks.

According to my research, I think Connecticut’s lawmakers were cautious moving against slavery. Black people were more numerous in the state than in the rest of New England combined, and racial anxieties were correspondingly acuter. This pattern was well-observed from the South: “the more blacks lived in a Northern state, the more reluctantly that state approached the topic of emancipation.”

I’m going to do my following research on what are the events lead to the changes in the laws. I think the idea of slavery was deep in people’s mind so, I will there must be something happened changed people’s mind.




Slavery in Connecticut.  Reverends For Or Against Slavery?