The History of Caribbean American of Massachusetts

First arrival of Caribbean slaves… 1600 – 1800 – 1900


“On 26 February 1638 the governor, John Winthrop speaks of the return to Boston of Captain William Pierce of the Massachusetts ship Desire from the West Indies carrying cotton, and tobacco, and negroes (slaves). Massachusetts and Rhode Island were the principal slave trading colonies in New England, and Boston was one of the primary ports of departure for slave ships.

In 1641 Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first of Britain’s mainland colonies to make slavery legal.

In 1644 Boston merchants began importing slaves directly from Africa, selling them in the West Indies, and bringing home sugar to make rum, initiating the so-called triangular trade.

In particular, there was a very close economic relationship between the New England colonies and the West Indian slave-based sugar economy. The Caribbean islands found it more profitable to devote all their land to sugar production and import foodstuffs and other staples, while the New England colonies needed a Caribbean export market so that they could purchase manufactured goods from England.

Ships left Boston, Salem, and Newburyport with fish to feed the enslaved Africans laboring on the sugar plantations of the West Indies and lumber to build barrels in which to ship sugar and molasses. Attempt your main luck is a dice video game book of ra magic kostenlos spielen. Vessels returned from the West Indies loaded with molasses and often carrying a number of enslaved men and women to be sold in the Bay Colony. The molasses was distilled into rum, some of which was sold locally; the rest was shipped to Africa and traded for captured men and women.


In 1700 there were approximately 90,000 people living in New England. The black population numbered about 1,000, roughly half of whom lived in Massachusetts.

By the mid-1700s African slavery was well established in Massachusetts. In 1752, black people made up 10% of Boston’s population. On the eve of the Revolution, Massachusetts had over 5,200 black residents, more than any other New England colony but still a small number compared to colonies in other regions.

Since New England’s climate was not suitable for large-scale farming, most slaves in Massachusetts were laborers for merchants and tradesman or domestic servants for wealthy families, although some did work as farm hands.

As most slave owners did not have enough slaves to justify building separate living quarters for them, their slaves often lived with them in their homes.

Many famous buildings and structures in New England were built with money from Massachusetts’ slave trade, such as Faneuil Hall in Boston, which was constructed by wealthy slave trader and merchant Peter Faneuil, whose family regularly sold slaves in public auctions on nearby Merchants Row.

Harvard Law School was built with money made off the sale of land donated by a wealthy plantation owner, Isaac Royall Jr., and the House of Seven Gables in Salem was built with money from Captain John Turner’s small role in the Triangle Trade of selling fish to Caribbean plantation owners to feed their slaves while importing the sugar they harvested on the plantations.

There is no exact date that marks the end of slavery in Massachusetts and no specific law that suddenly brought it to a halt.


The stream of migrants to the United States was relatively small compared with the flow to Central America and Cuba. While 108,000 people entered the United States from the entire Caribbean region between 1899 and 1932, it took only two islands, Jamaica and Barbados, to supply more than 240,000 laborers to Panama between 1881 and 1915. The migration to the U.S. was also distinct in another important respect. Those who immigrated to this country were disproportionately literate and skilled, with a significant number being professionals or white-collar workers.

The number of black people, especially those from the Caribbean, who migrated to the United States increased dramatically during the first three decades of the twentieth century, peaking in 1924 at 12,250 per year and falling off during the Depression. The foreign-born black population increased from 20,000 in 1900 to almost 100,000 by 1930.

The second decade of the twentieth century, by contrast, would see a deliberate attempt to block the entry of black people into the United States. Despite the dramatic fall in immigration following the outbreak of World War I, by the end of 1914 Congress was debating legislation that would drastically restrict newcomers. Senator James Reed of Missouri secured quick passage in the Senate of an amendment to the bill excluding members of the black or African race from entry into the country. The African-American press was unanimous in its condemnation of the measure, and the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People voiced its strong opposition.

But, remarkably, the greatest opposition to this piece of legislative racism came from Booker T. Washington. He was uncharacteristically passionate and combative on the question and, to his credit, pulled out all the stops to kill the amendment. He mobilized his influential network of powerful supporters, white and black—the “Tuskegee Machine” – and personally waged a campaign in the major newspapers against the measure. Washington vigorously reminded Americans of the indispensable labor that Afro-Caribbeans had performed in building the Panama Canal. They should not now be slapped in the face, he said, and told they cannot enter this country. He organized a massive lobbying campaign and even black opponents of his usually accommodationist positions, such as W. E. B. Du Bois and cofounder of the NAACP and newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter, joined forces with him on this issue.

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