From Publishers Weekly
Rappleye (All American Mafioso) provides an incisive study of John and Moses Brown, two of four brothers from the Providence banking, import/export and slave-trading family. John spent his life as an unrepentant participant in the business of America's "peculiar institution." But Moses—following the American Revolution, during which all the Browns took up the cause of liberty—discovered Quakerism and abolitionism. He thereafter stood opposed to the business interests of his brother and the balance of his family. (Only Nicholas Brown Jr. joined Moses in his crusade). During 1789, Moses organized an abolitionist group in Providence that was instrumental in achieving passage of the federal Slave Trade Act of 1794 prohibiting ships destined to transport slaves to any foreign country from outfitting in American ports. John Brown—who deemed it improper to deny American citizens "the benefits of a trade permitted by all the European nations"—was the first Rhode Islander tried under that legislation. Convicted, he suffered the forfeiture of his slave ship, ironically named Hope. The tale of the Browns provides unique insight into the festering wound of slavery as manifested, with hard-edged and profitable heartlessness, during the colonial and postcolonial eras. 16 pages of photos, 3 maps. (May 16)
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Rappleye focuses on two of four Brown brothers, John and Moses, from one of the chartered families of Rhode Island, and how their maturation reflected the conflicts and challenges of our nation in foundation. Following an initial joint venture in the international slave trade, the brothers later took opposite positions on slavery; John increased his involvement, while Moses became strongly antislavery. Both became central players in Rhode Island politics through both the political and commercial sphere. John's antitaxation, anticolonial activities helped to spur the move for independence. Although Moses evolved into a conscientious Quaker with the highest ideals, they still worked jointly in family-owned businesses and for the common good in the formation of Rhode Island's first college, now Brown University. Spanning a century, from 1736 to 1836, this work highlights regional issues that became nationwide--slavery, the fight for liberty, and protection from unfairly imposed taxations, religious principles, as well as the new nation's political ideals. The Brown family saga reflects on many issues that remain American dilemmas: the balance between commercial and religious and political ideals. Vernon Ford
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