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Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North Hardcover – January 17, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Manegold (In Glory's Shadow) centers her study of slavery in the North on Ten Hills Farm, a 600-acre estate north of Boston, passed down through five generations of powerful slave-owning dynasties. Famous figures defend and transform Ten Hills, beginning with Manegold's epitomic Puritan, John Winthrop, founder of the farm and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and his son, John Jr. The Puritan is followed by William Ryall, the Immigrant, whose heirs Isaac Royall and Isaac Jr. morph into Master and Benefactor of Harvard, respectively. Their domestic lives and commercial dealings form the scaffold of Manegold's forgotten history of the tangled bond, stitched with the skins of slavery and blown by the winds of greed, between American slavery and American wealth. Tightly focused on the Ten Hills Farm connection, Manegold conveys a lively depiction of New England social, cultural and political history peppered with jolting reminders that what may have been forgotten, nevertheless remains. Manegold's thoughtfully researched and eminently readable biography of this piece of land will allow no one to remain unaware of the North's extensive links to slavery and the slave trade. (Jan.)
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"Manegold's research is wide-ranging and meticulous, and with her vivid storytelling and persistent ethical sense, she does much-needed justice to this obscure chapter in American history."--New York Times Book Review
"The story of five generations of slave owners in Colonial New England. John Winthrop, Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled in 1630, famously spoke of 'the shining city upon a hill,' yet he was a slave owner, as were other powerful Massachusetts families on land, part of which today is Cambridge, Mass."--Billy Heller, New York Post
"Ten Hills Farm dispels the myth of slavery as a solely Southern phenomenon. It recounts the establishment of slavery in the northern colonies and traces its path to the sugar cane fields of the island of Antigua. Manegold, an award-winning journalist and the author of In Glory's Shadow: The Citadel, Shannon Faulkner, and a Changing America, unravels the intricate family lineages and the brokered deals of America's elite and the institutions they founded upon slavery, including Harvard Law School. With a wealth of primary source research, Manegold, a former fellow at the American Antiquarian Society and Harvard University, reveals the names and faces of masters and slaves alike, while providing the reader with an invaluable lesson on the history of slavery."--ForeWord
"Exposing the Puritans as not so pure, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Manegold lays bare the deep slavery connections that enriched early New England. Her conversational narrative interweaves past and present in a personalized story of the whites who owned, and blacks who slaved at, Ten Hills Farm."--Thomas J. Davis, Library Journal
"This is a book that draws one into the world of pre-Revolutionary New England and beyond with a storyteller's intensity and a historian's integrity. Ten Hills Farm will win awards--and deserves them."--George H. Wittman, American Spectator
"Here, Manegold looks back to reveal the truth about the Puritans' 'bold experiment,' refuting conventional wisdom that too often dismissed references to slavery in the North. . . . This is a story that needed to be told."--Kirkus
"[An] intimate and sobering account of slavery's hold on New England. . . . [Manegold] makes vivid what has not so much been forgotten as suppressed."--Stephan Salisbury, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Manegold's graceful, small-scale treatment of the large, often murky issue of Northern slavery puts a human face on a shameful practice too often ascribed solely to the South."--Robert Knight, Post and Courier
"As an award-winning journalist, Manegold crafts a narrative not stuffed with jargon but filled with lively prose that not only links the reader to past events but illustrates their connection to modern-day issues. . . . Manegold produces a vivid and compelling case which highlights the need for both academics and the general public to understand not only the role slavery played in the North but its relationship to other American colonies as well as the larger Atlantic world."--James J. Gigantino II, Common-place
"Manegold's flair for the dramatic will be sure to please history buffs everywhere. . . . Manegold's style breathes life into potentially arid names and dates of history, and it gives white characters at least ambition, intent, and motive. Famous personages of history leap from the page in a riot of human complexity, longing, and imperfection that is eminently readable."--Alexandra Chan, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
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I enjoyed the book very much and I intend to keep it with my Genealogical records.
"This matter of station has consistently and perhaps conveniently been confused with ideas about the supposedly "gentle" culture of slavery as it evolved in the North. Yet that assumption breaks down with even the scantiest analysis. The great shibboleth of northern slavery is that it was somehow "benign," softer than its southern cousin, even vaguely "familial" in some way, as though all could gather happily around a kitchen table, a master at the head. Yet the reality for these slaves could not hae been more at odds with that fine fantasy. For them, the most fundamental truth was this: Whites who ruled their lives at Ten Hills Farm and in the big houses along Brattle Street were, in many case, the very same men and women who had ruled their livers on warmer shores." p.180
There is nothing gentle and familial about the ownership of humans. Even worse was it was ongoing from nearly the founding of the colony of Massachusetts. At first Governor Winthrop, founder of Ten Hills Farm in modern day Medford, Mass. owned native american slaves. The third owner of the property, Isaac Royall owned at least 40, if not 80, in the colonies, and perhaps as many in the Caribbean climate, growing sugar cane and making rum to enlarge his fortunes. The somewhat religiously devout citizens of Boston tolerated or owned slaves.
"By 1700, there were more than four hundred slaves counted in the colony. Thirty-five years later, when the Mastre bought Ten Hills Farm, the number was six times as great, and the total would continue growing. In 1754, when Massachusetts officials made their first formal tally of black slaves, 4,489 were included in the count. The second census, completed in 1765, showed the number growing still - up by more than one thousand to a total of 5,779 black men, women, and children without freedom." p.181
She lists numerous examples of black slave families being separated to satisfy the financial whims of their white owners. Slaves were also executed for things or whipped or beaten without any recourse.
Around the time of the Revolutionary War, when white americans were declaring they refused to be slaves of England, the hypocrisy was getting harder to ignore. Even some whites were brave enough to be counter cultural and advocate for the abolition of slavery.
"In A Disuasion to Great Britain, [James] Swan, cited the bible to underscore his point. Dueteronomy 15:13-14 required that slaves go free after a term of seven years, the colonial essayist reminded readers. Nor should those former slaves be sent off empty-handed. "Thou shalt furnish him out of thy flock ... and out of the floor, and out of thy wine press; of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, though shalt give him. This is in token that thou dost acknowledge the benefit thou hast received by his labors." That argument failed, too. Slavery kept its grip, for now, at least." pp. 210-1
It was a religious region, but as is typical, religion was not allowed to interfere with commerce and personal pleasure. Considering the amount of drinking and gambling this upper class indulged in, I'm sure they molded their religion to their lives, instead submitting to their religion. Treating fellow humans as neighbors instead of means to ends has been our difficulty since the beginning of time, see Cain and Abel. To this day we may tsk-tsk these hypocritical religious slave owners, but make every excuse for our tolerance for the murders of babies in wombs. Over and over again, as I read the history of our inhumanity to each other, I think of the phrase, "the veneer of civilization is very thin," from Iris Chang in her book the Rape of Nanking. I think we white wash our histories because we want to believe that someone in our past was noble. Reading history always helps to silence that notion.
Manegold writes well. She's read some of the books I have reported on here before. And she also points me to new ones for me to learn from, including the one about slavery in Connecticut. I think I am ready for the death of my notion that my state was innocent.