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|Traces of the Trade|
|Date||Wednesday April 28|
|Time||7:30 PM - 9:30 PM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
390 27th Street
midtown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway
|HumanistHall [at] Yahoo.com|
Film evenings begin with optional potluck refreshments and social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.
Traces of the Trade:
A Story from the Deep North
By Katrina Browne
Presented by Holly Fulton
– appearing in person
and facilitating discussions
First-time filmmaker Katrina Browne makes a troubling discovery — her New England ancestors (the DeWolf family) were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history! Given the myth that the South is solely responsible for slavery, this film about a Northern slaving family will come as a shock. The film follows Browne and nine fellow family members on a remarkable journey which brings them face-to-face with the history and legacy of New England’s hidden enterprise. Browne and her nine fellow descendants set off to retrace the Triangle Trade: from their old hometown in Rhode Island to slave forts in Ghana to sugar plantation ruins in Cuba. Step by step, they uncover the vast extent of Northern complicity in slavery while also stumbling through the minefield of contemporary race relations. In this bicentennial year of the U.S. abolition of the slave trade, this film offers powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide.
The DeWolf family name is revered in the family’s hometown of Bristol, Rhode Island. The family has a prominent place in history, with a lineage of professors, philanthropists, legislators, Episcopal priests and bishops. Slave trade was hinted at in the family annals, brushed off as poor relations in the family.
From 1769 to 1820, DeWolf fathers, sons, and grandsons trafficked in human beings. They sailed their ships from Bristol, Rhode Island, to West Africa with rum to trade for African men, women, and children. Captives were taken to plantations that the DeWolfs owned in Cuba or were sold at auction in such ports as Havana and Charleston. Sugar and molasses were then brought from Cuba to the family-owned rum distilleries in Bristol. Over the generations, the family transported more than ten thousand enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage. They amassed an enormous fortune. By the end of his life, James DeWolf had been a U.S. Senator and was reportedly the second richest man in the United States.
The enslavement of Africans was business for more than just the DeWolf family. It was a cornerstone of Northern commercial life. The Triangle Trade drove the economy of many port cities (Rhode Island had the largest share in the trade of any state), and slavery itself existed in the North for over 200 years. Northern textile mills used slave-picked cotton from the South to fuel the Industrial Revolution, while banks and insurance companies played a key role throughout the period. While the DeWolfs were one of only a few “slaving” dynasties, the network of commercial activities that they were tied to involved an enormous portion of the Northern population. Many citizens, for example, would buy shares in slave ships in order to make a profit.
Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street
$5 donations are accepted