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Philadelphia Inquirer[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
Ten Hills Farm tells the powerful saga of five generations of slave owners in colonial New England. Settled in 1630 by John Winthrop—who would later become governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony—Ten Hills Farm was a six-hundred-acre estate just north of Boston. Winthrop, famous for envisioning his 'city on the hill' and lauded as a paragon of justice, owned slaves on that ground and passed the first law in North America condoning slavery. In this mesmerizing narrative, C. S. Manegold exposes how the fates of the land and the families that lived on it were bound to America's most tragic and tainted legacy. Challenging received ideas about America and the Atlantic world, Ten Hills Farm digs deep to bring the story of slavery in the North full circle—from concealment to recovery.
Manegold follows the compelling tale from the early seventeenth to the early twenty-first century, from New England, through the South, to the sprawling slave plantations of the Caribbean. John Winthrop, famous for envisioning his "city on the hill" and lauded as a paragon of justice, owned slaves on that ground and passed the first law in North America condoning slavery. Each successive owner of Ten Hills Farm—from John Usher, who was born into money, to Isaac Royall, who began as a humble carpenter's son and made his fortune in Antigua—would depend upon slavery's profits until the 1780s, when Massachusetts abolished the practice. In time, the land became a city, its questionable past discreetly buried, until now.
Challenging received ideas about America and the Atlantic world, Ten Hills Farm digs deep to bring the story of slavery in the North full circle—from concealment to recovery.
"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
"Eloquent and plain-spoken meditations on America's past, such as those found in Ten Hills Farm, will help readers to hear and to seek out the ancient stories that resound still in our twenty-first-century worlds."—Lois Brown, New England Quarterly
"Written in a style that makes it accessible to a wide audience, Ten Hills Farm is an important addition to the growing literature on race and slavery in the American North. Adding the account of this property and the people who owned it, as well as lived and labored on it, moves us ever closer to regaining the complex history so casually erased over the last few hundred years."—Richard A. Bailey, The Historian
On this ground a thousand years ago, the woods embraced a people called the Massachusett. They made no books, no maps, no monuments to their achievements, no lasting record of defeats. No history of these people was described in stone or set on silk or sheepskin for posterity. No library preserved their lore. Instead, season by season, year by year, long nights around great bonfires glowed with the legends of the place, the battles won, the heroes honored. But these were only stories, as ephemeral as the flowing waters of the nearby Mystic River. With the coming of white explorers, that record started burning in the fevers of disease. Then came the crack of musket shot and the stifling language of a distant court. In a blink of geologic time, a population withered. What had been saved and shared so long was lost, the people of those legends broken. By the time the Puritans and their stern, committed few arrived to stake their claim, an eerie silence was already spread across the ground. A veil of illness lingered. More tragedy would come.
Until the 1400s, literate, seafaring civilizations understood the space beyond their knowing as but a cipher and a dream, a nightmare, really, made of falling over the earth's edge. Ancient mariners who ventured into the New World spoke of brown-skinned men and gray-blue waters full of fish. But were they to be believed? Elegant maps with whale spouts and huge monsters at their edges showed just a frightening void beyond the boundary of what they had explored. By the 1500s it was filled. Yet even then Europeans knew more about the Caribbean and Mexico than vast territories stretching north of Florida. The famous cartographer Sebastian Cabot in 1544 showed New England and everything to the north of it as a literal terra incognita, filled only with grasses, bears, a mountain lion, and several Indians with sticks. While royal records in their spindly hubris and self-interest described man's greedy sweeps across the arc of Asia, Africa, and Europe, neither scholars nor explorers bothered yet to mark North America's lush acres in dark ink or fine gold leaf.
Then came fishermen, laborers, ministers, and warriors. And finally the region's history, already well advanced upon the land itself and written in the hearts and memories of a people who had made their lives upon that ground for a millennium, began to twist into another form, a form best suited to the egos and the interests of white tellers, newcomers all, armed with the great power of the pen. Almost imperceptibly, a complex history was casually erased, as though the god of memory had simply closed his eyes.
These newcomers would spin a tale of bold adventurers, men of honor and deep principle who came to settle a "new" land. Among them was a forty-two-year-old chronicler whose journals would frame and define our knowledge of this land for centuries to come. "For 350 years Governor John Winthrop's journal has been recognized as the central source for the history of Massachusetts" in its first decades, wrote Richard S. Dunn in an introduction to the Harvard University Press edition of those journals printed in 1996. Sweeping as the statement is, Dunn might have minimized the impact. For it was not just Massachusetts that the leader of the Puritans helped to define, but America's very understanding of itself. Almost inevitably, much of that understanding came from Winthrop, whom Dunn rightfully acknowledges as "both the chief actor and the chief recorder" of the Puritans' bold experiment. He left behind a body of observations and a manifesto of intention that is quoted even now, across the span of centuries. In that sense, Winthrop's writings were both a gift and the seed of a conundrum posed to later generations struggling for a broader view.
Winthrop's journal, or those parts of it that have survived the years and the vicissitudes of weather and poor treatment, opens on March 29, "Anno domini 1630," an Easter Monday. The new governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company was aboard the 350-ton Arbella in Southampton along England's southern coast in preparation for his sailing then. He had been on the ship more than a week when he sat to write his opening words and he felt a keen impatience. As he settled at a table to make that first entry, the vessel rode heavy at anchor off the Isle of Wight not far from England's shore, her hold jammed with provisions for the journey ahead and the hard, lean months to follow. Within earshot on that day, three other ships, the Ambrose, Jewel, and Talbot, their sails furled tight and stately masts spiking in the harbor air, also bobbed uneasily at their waterlines, ready and at rest.
All four vessels would leave that sheltered sanctuary within days, wrenching their anchors out of harbor mud before rolling out of sight in a roar of musket shot and flapping canvas. Again and again throughout that year, one heaving schooner after another would head west, splashing across the Atlantic until a thousand souls were dumped as strangers on a strange and distant shore. Within two decades twenty thousand immigrants would uproot to make that journey. Even as Winthrop dipped his pen and tapped a drop of excess ink that day, the Charles, the Mayflower (not of Pilgrim fame), the William and Francis, the Hopewell, the Whale, the Successe, and the Tryall were being readied under the bark and whistle of ship's captains elsewhere. The governor noted each with a delicate hand. In brown ink on the first page of a small notebook lashed with leather, he started his great story. What he did not say, perhaps what he did not yet clearly see, was that history was shifting, and he would shape it in his image.
The first order of business was to establish a clear line of mastery and control. As governor of the new colony, he would need it. "Upon conference it was agreed that these 4 shippes should consorte togither," Winthrop wrote. Now and for the duration of the voyage, a strict hierarchy would hold. Governor Winthrop's ship, the Arbella, was selected for the lead. It would sail as "admiral." The larger Talbot would be "vice admiral." The Ambrose, "rear admiral," and the Jewel, "captain," would round out the fleet. Together, they would push history before them like a wave.
With that decided, Winthrop organized himself and paced the decks. In the last days before the fleet embarked, the new governor observed the Arbella's captain, Peter Milborne, with all his many preparations for the sailing. A crew of fifty-two was hard at work, heaving barrels, mending sails, and stowing last-minute provisions. Twice that number of passengers shuffled aboard and found their way to cramped and musty spaces down below. By slow degrees as these last hours clicked by, Winthrop gently turned away from the rolling hills of England and all that he had ever known to point his will and energy toward his new life in a new land.
* * *
A country gentleman and an accomplished lawyer who served as justice of the peace in Suffolk County, John Winthrop was new to thoughts of a vast social experiment in a distant hemisphere. Having been raised in a prominent family amid a flow of titled visitors and important guests, he was "lord of the manor" in a literal sense, hardly the sort whom fate might pluck for great adventure. On the contrary, his path seemed set, and comfortable. His boyhood home at Groton Manor with its great fireplaces and yawning mastiffs was a picture of English stability. His choice to serve as a magistrate showed nothing of a taste for thrill. Even John Winthrop's life as a father and a family man was accompanied more by the drumbeat of responsibility than the cymbal clash of risk.
When the Pilgrims sailed, Winthrop hardly made a note of it. Instead, he left the chaos of new colonies to others, including his second son, Henry, who in December 1626 (well before these thoughts of Massachusetts crossed his father's mind) sailed away with Captain Henry Powell to help establish a colony in Barbados. The ship arrived at its sandy and unkempt destination February 17, 1627. Henry was not yet in his twenties then, a young man full of promise, blessed with means. He loved the place, and for two years he had a great adventure. Yet Barbados was a young colony and dogged with problems, and he could not make a go of it. By the time his father packed his bags and walked on board the Arbella, Henry was back home again (though hardly chastened), preparing for another gamble, this time with the great John Winthrop, off to try a new experiment.
As the chisel-faced Puritan gazed out across England's gray shoreline in that spring of 1630, perhaps he understood Henry's urgent impulses as never before. Surely, he knew the risk. Henry had already fumbled. But just like his son, John Winthrop also knew the promise: life on his own terms in a world that he could fashion.
The tales of the two men's voyages echo eerily.
It was two years after the English established a foothold in Barbados that eighteen-year-old Henry crossed the Atlantic to start a tobacco plantation and assist with the island's administration. It was two years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony was conceived and John Endecott planted England's flag in Salem that John Winthrop would arrive, settle a farm, and manage the colony's administration.
Inflated family accounts of Henry's achievements identify him as "chief proprietor and commander-in-chief of Barbadoes." Court records and histories identify his father as chief magistrate and governor of Massachusetts. Though they stood at different stations in the hierarchies they helped create, each well understood the lure of leadership in a colony just taking shape.
In Barbados, Henry found sandy ground inhabited by a handful of Englishmen and slaves. He immediately pronounced the place "the pleasantest island in all the West Indies." Yet he would not prosper. John Winthrop discovered a colder, richer landscape inhabited by a greater number of Englishmen living beside Indian tribes already decimated by disease. Like Henry he spoke movingly of the region's beauty and extolled its boundless possibility. But there the echoes end. John Winthrop thrived where Henry failed. But of course it did not start that way.
In the first few months of Henry's adventure in the Caribbean, the young man was mentioned fondly and often in family letters. "We are very glad to hear so good news of our son Henry," Margaret Winthrop wrote optimistically after receiving news of her stepson in the summer of 1627. Doting family members applauded his gumption and wondered how to send him shoes and other goods. But shoes were hardly what young Henry needed. Henry urgently needed men. And in a raw and unsettled island culture that would soon become notorious for the sadistic abuse of workers, "men" meant either indentured servants or, more often, African and Indian slaves.
"I have found two sturdy youths that would go to him," John Winthrop wrote in a letter from that period. Henry wanted more, and shipped some rough tobacco as a preliminary payment in exchange. His father rejected it, complaining in uncharacteristically florid language that the leaf was so "ill-conditioned, foul, and full of stalks, and evil colored" that no English grocer would deign touch it. Even Henry's uncles would not buy. Nor was John Winthrop in any position to provide additional help. "I have no money," the Puritan said sharply in a letter to his son that has survived the years, "and I am so far in debt already, to both your uncles, as I am ashamed to borrow any more." The reason for his penury was perfectly clear. Even so, John Winthrop spelled it out, sparing Henry nothing in the telling: "I have disbursed a great deal of money for you," he chided, "more than my estate will bear." The ten men Henry asked for would not come. Henry's life as master of a new plantation would be short. "I can supply you no further," announced the father. Though he had generously backed the Barbados venture for some time, young Henry's demands had strained John Winthrop's personal finances to the limit. Nothing more would flow.
Back in England, enthusiasm for the experiment cooled. Tobacco use was out of favor among the Puritans. In any case, the crop Henry produced was bad stuff hardly worthy of the name. John Winthrop, his third wife, Margaret, and eldest son John Jr. (later the governor of Connecticut) now pinned their hopes instead on the North American mainland. Two months after the Puritan cut his son Henry off from further subsidies, the Massachusetts Bay Company was formed with a wealthy London merchant and family associate, Mathew Cradock, named as governor. John Endecott and scores of settlers embarked at once. Though they were part of a broad land grab in a time of growing empire, their settlement would be an experiment unlike any other. According to the Massachusetts Bay Company's charter, the wheels and cogs of governance would be given to the colony itself, not controlled at a distance from counting houses and stuffy courtrooms back in London. These men "were not ... adventurers or traffickers," explained the Puritan's descendant Robert C. Winthrop, a long-time president of the Massachusetts Historical Society (and great-great-grandfather of Massachusetts senator John Kerry), in his "Life and Letters of John Winthrop." Nor were they going "for the profits of a voyage ... [or] the pleasure of a visit; but to 'inhabit and continue' there" and build a world. Self-governance on a distant shore represented a structural shift many historians would read in hindsight as of profound, and finally revolutionary, consequence. These men would rule themselves.
John Winthrop was originally called into the project merely to mediate differences between several bickering New England officers and John Endecott, the Salem-based official who had set up camp in Massachusetts while Henry struggled in Barbados. Yet Winthrop's role quickly expanded. Over a series of meetings held in London, it was Winthrop who emerged as a clear leader. For him the venture came at a good time. His finances were a mess. He had just left (or was pushed from) a position as attorney at the Court of Wards, the body charged with overseeing the estates of wealthy orphans who might otherwise fall prey to guardians inclined to put their own self-interest first. He feared for his religious freedoms. A beloved brother-in-law, Thomas Fones, and his mother (who had always lived beside her son at Groton Manor) died within days of each other. The family estate seemed suddenly bleak and lifeless. Winthrop fell into a severe depression.
"We see how frail and vain all earthly good things are," he wrote his wife while shaking off the deaths of those he loved. "Only the fruition of Jesus Christ and the hope of heaven can give us true comfort and rest."
Why, then, not leave England for a new life in His service? When the Massachusetts Bay Company called on the forty-two-year-old magistrate to join in that adventure he was prepared in more ways than his associates could have guessed. His needs were great. His standing commitments were frayed or severed. The thought of relocation must have seemed less daunting after Henry's recent travels. And surely where the wayward son had failed, the father might succeed. In any case, freedom, opportunity, and a fresh start clearly lay offshore.
By mid-October of 1629 John Winthrop, then staying in London with his sister Lucy and her family, was so engrossed in the Massachusetts Bay Company's business-and so entranced by its potential-he could find "not one quarter of an hour's time to write," he told his wife. Settling a new territory with a charter from the king was an enormous task. Recruiting investors and "adventurers" willing to take the gamble, calculating stores of goods and livestock, arranging for a cross-Atlantic passage, and luring families to join the exodus consumed all of his time. And yet the work bore fruit. "We are now agreed with the merchants," the Puritan told Margaret in a scribbled note, "and stay only to settle our affairs." By the time the matter of leadership came to a vote, he had consolidated his position and settled his intention. On October 20, 1629, John Winthrop-with a show of hands-came out first among four candidates for governor. He started his duties the same day.
Excerpted from Ten Hills Farm by C. S. MANEGOLD Copyright © 2010 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission.
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Letter from Antigua xi
PART I: The Puritan
Chapter 1: The Land 3
Chapter 2: Ten Hills Farm 21
Chapter 3: Possession 36
PART II: The Immigrant
Chapter 4: The King's Forester 53
Chapter 5: Favors to the Few 62
Chapter 6: Happy Instruments to Enlarge Our Dominions 80
Chapter 7: Slavers of the North 97
Chapter 8: Come Up in the Night with Them 102
Chapter 9: You May Own Negroes and Negresses 116
PART III: The Master
Chapter 10: Antigua 125
Chapter 11: Crime, Punishment, and Compensation 145
Chapter 12: Homecoming 156
Chapter 13: The Benefactor 167
Chapter 14: Luxury on the Grandest Scale 183
PART IV: The Petitioner
Chapter 15: We Shall Not Be Slaves 197
Chapter 16: Within the Bowels of a Free Country 206
Chapter 17: Death Is Not the Worst of Evils 215
Chapter 18: Reparations 228
PART V: The Legacy
Chapter 19: City upon a Hill 239
Afterword Letter from Antigua, Easter Monday, 2008 257
Note to Readers 267
Notes on Sources 271
List of Illustrations 309
Posted January 25, 2013
The title of the book that includes 'The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North' is very misleading as there is little about northern slavery inside. This is an interesting account of the Winthrop and Royall families and the initial colonization of New England but nothing new, especially in Indian and African slavery. In fact, those topics are barely skimmed until the last chapter. Disappointing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2010
Simply put, DON'T MISS THIS GREAT BOOK.
If you love history, especially if you live in the BOSTON area, this book if for you. It's incredibly enlightening. I went to a BOOK SIGNING out in the Wrentham and met the author. She's amazing. Very sharp gal.
I could go on and on, but who has the time?
It's the best book I've read in years. You won't be sorry you picked this one up!!!
Posted November 17, 2009
Posted November 16, 2009
No text was provided for this review.
Posted November 8, 2009
No text was provided for this review.