From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Slave trade: the ‘Deep North’

Cathedral of St. John    (Photo by Max Binder) 
We hear many wonderful stories about New England’s role in religious freedom.

What we don’t often hear about is New England’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Rhode Island, in particular, has been called the “Deep North.”  Katharine Q. Seelye of The New York Times reports that 58 percent of the total United States slaving voyages “between 1725 and 1807...
left from Providence, Newport and Bristol.”

Worse yet, religious institutions played a prominent part in these sinful practices.  For example, “many of the shipbuilders, captains and financiers of those slaving
voyages were Episcopalians.”  Seelye also points out that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were “notable
Episcopalian slaveholders.”

To their credit, some Episcopalian dioceses have been “holding services of repentance and starting programs of truth and reconciliation.”  The Diocese of Rhode Island “has been slow to respond,” but is now taking big steps to atone for its past.

Under the current leadership of Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely, The Diocese of Rhode Island is establishing a museum focused on the North’s complicity in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  This museum is being housed in the Cathedral of Saint John in Providence, “seat of the Episcopal Diocese.”


Copyright September 19, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment