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Ten Hills Farm

The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North

C. S. Manegold

Publication Year: 2009

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.

Published by: Princeton University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-9


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pp. 10-11

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Letter from Antigua

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pp. 12-25

History in this hot and weathered place lies scattered in plain sight. I touch something with the toe of my shoe. It is a piece of china, a cup shard, a glint of ancient porcelain, blue and white against the brown. And here, a fragment of a bowl decorated in delicate pat-terns of leaves. Trash amid the stones. I pluck several pieces from ...


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1 The Land

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pp. 28-45

...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 bonfi res glowed with the legends of the place, the battles won, the heroes ...

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2 Ten Hills Farm

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pp. 46-60

Months of green stretched lazily ahead. ?Here is as good land as I have seen . . . sweet air, fair rivers, and plenty of springs, and the water better than in England,? the governor told his eldest son in would step off more ships in that season. Yet after a hard winter and a year of desperate want, many in the town were already fed ...

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3 Possession

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pp. 61-75

Sir Simonds D?Ewes, an infl uential Puritan who remained behind ?raised such forts, built so many towns . . . and so dispersed and enriched themselves . . . [it seemed] the very fi nger of God? had settlements grew. Meetinghouses were built, fi elds cleared and planted, forests cut. The Puritans? headquarters moved to Boston, ...


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4 The King’s Forester

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pp. 78-86

William Ryall came to Massachusetts with a contract to cut wood. He stepped ashore in 1629 with no important stature, no promise of a sizable estate, no grand inheritance or intricate web of so-cial infl uence. A workingman, he never knew the taste of privilege. But neither did he wince under a master?s order that he breed, or ...

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5 Favors to the Few

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pp. 87-104

...scrawl in 1639, ?having gotten a patent at Sagadahoc out of the grand patent . . . tendered it to our government, so as we would Cycles of farming and trade became routine. At last the new com-munity was prospering. But as it stabilized, new threats emerged. came from supposed friends. Success bred not just more success, ...

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6 Happy Instruments to Enlarge Our Dominions

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pp. 105-121

For thirty years, the farm remained in Winthrop hands, but ever more tenuously. Just six months after John Jr. sailed to Connecti-cut, a sudden illness sent his stepmother, Margaret Winthrop, to It was early summer then. John Jr. was in Connecticut, settling a new estate at Fisher?s Island and establishing a complex network ...

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7 Slavers of the North

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pp. 122-126

At war?s end, another fi rst son with a lighter complexion and a very different fate, Fitz-John Winthrop, recognized a fi ne oppor-tunity to press. Having buried his aging father, the governor of Connecticut, at the very climax of that war, Fitz-John, in 1676, inherited vast lands and many responsibilities. That spring it was ...

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8 Come Up in the Night with Them

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pp. 127-140

...boisterous clan spanning several generations. The Immigrant did not live to see it grow. Two months before King Philip?s body was displayed along the coast, William Ryall died at the height of war another stripe?for another forty years as bellowing accordions of Indian rage three times drove settlers from those shores. Not until ...

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9 You May Own Negroes and Negresses

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pp. 141-147

Wait-Still, the Puritan?s grandson born at Ten Hills Farm, writing to his brother Fitz in Connecticut, making fun of his slave ?Black nied the slave?s delivery, Wait told his older brother the man was of negligible value and had a troublesome habit of giving visitors strangers came to pay a call, Wait quipped, but ?is not very nimble ...


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10 Antigua

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pp. 150-169

...ground there, out by Beggars Point, chatting or standing with his before a great decision, a furious sun pulsing overhead, one hand miles down a white sand road, slow by horse and cart, but close enough for trade. He would have considered the prevailing breezes, enough to blow the creaking, thumping sails of a stone windmill. ...

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11 Crime, Punishment, and Compensation

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pp. 170-180

Not long after Isaac Royall settled in Antigua, Daniel Parke, a foppish Virginian with a well-earned reputation for philandering, arrived to serve as governor and captain general of the Leeward Puerto Rico and Martinique, whose capital, St. John?s, lay roughly at the center. The new governor was welcomed with a lavish party. ...

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12 Homecoming

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pp. 181-191

Over the next few years Isaac Royall did not let the prospect of a move to Massachusetts drop. Instead, on one of his trips north he stopped at Ten Hills Farm. Isaac?s friend, his ?kinsman? John Usher, had died six years before, leaving a sloppy legal tangle in his wake. By 1732 the tangle was resolved and the estate was up for ...

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13 The Benefactor

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pp. 192-207

...parade of carriages pulled up at the entrance to the Master?s el-egant estate in Medford. Thirteen-year-old Penne, dressed in fi ne imported silk, met them at the door and curtsied to arriving guests as slaves retrieved their coats. There was nothing like a party to pave one?s way within the gentry; and what a party it must have ...

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14 Luxury on the Grandest Scale

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pp. 208-219

Up at Ten Hills Farm in the mid-1700s, Isaac Royall Jr. lost no last. While Penne and her husband Henry Vassall established them-selves at 94 Brattle Street in Cambridge (enjoying their extensive gardens and a view that stretched one thousand feet to the Charles grand mansion several miles to the south in Dorchester, Isaac Jr. ...


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15 We Shall Not Be Slaves

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pp. 222-230

By the time Isaac Royall Jr. reached the age of forty, he knew al-A signal of his popularity came with his promotion, in 1761, to the post of brigadier general in the governor?s horse guards. It was a largely ceremonial position, yet as the fi rst American awarded the rank it was an honor he cherished. Not everyone was so impressed. ...

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16 Within the Bowels of a Free Country

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pp. 231-239

...erty had created an organized force intent on resisting British acts that worked against the colony?s best interests. Month by month they harried British troops and shouted their profound distaste for England?s bullying. Discontent across the colonies meant tinder scattered everywhere. All that tinder needed was a spark; and it ...

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17 Death Is Not the Worst of Evils

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pp. 240-252

In the weeks immediately after the battles at Concord and Lexing-kept his home. Uncertain of their future, perhaps not even sure Then, by daylight, just as quick as they had come, they scattered. Some moved up the road to stay at Isaac Royall?s house until they found their bearings and could sketch a plan. Others trudged away ...

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18 Reparations

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pp. 253-261

In time, of course, the British left. The war moved on and all the soldiers with it. That strange intrusion lurched away. For seven years and more, violence swept south and west, extracting its un-godly toll, burying tens of thousands. Then at last the war was tution?We the people . . . in order to form a more perfect union, ...


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19 City upon a Hill

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pp. 264-281

...square-faced Harvard graduate climbed the steps of Boston?s State House to deliver his inaugural address as Massachusetts? seventy-fi rst governor. A native of Chicago, Deval L. Patrick was the fi rst person of African descent to win the title since the commonwealth?s founding; and he won by a wide margin. So he was confi dent that ...

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Afterword: Letter from Antigua, Easter Monday, 2008

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pp. 282-291

...by Royall?s Bay who is known to pour a bit of beer on the fl oor every time he passes the place where long ago a sturdy, gnarled tamarind tree was used for hanging slaves. The beer is a mindful offering to ancestors who perished there, an emollient to some lost relative or distant god, or the ghosts of times long gone. Jumbie, ...

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Note to Readers

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pp. 292-295

Many of the quotations in this text have been altered to refl ect contemporary spellings. I have made these edits to allow the reader to move easily through the narrative without having to constantly struggle to decipher perfectly familiar words. In places, however, I retain spellings faithful to the original in order to deepen the sense ...

Notes on Sources

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pp. 296-329

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pp. 330-333

Every journey, however solitary, has its fellow travelers. I would editor, Brigitta van Rheinberg, for awakening me to this project, putting my gaze back to the blank page after an absence, and stay-ing with me every step. It has been a singularly inspiring profes-sional relationship. My thanks, as well, to her wonderful team at ...

List of Illustrations

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pp. 334-335


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pp. 336-342

E-ISBN-13: 9781400831814
E-ISBN-10: 1400831814
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691150352
Print-ISBN-10: 0691150354

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: Course Book