restricted access Slave Trading in a New World: The Strategies of North American Slave Traders in the Age of Abolition

The present essay explores the ways in which new sensibilities toward the transatlantic slave trade resulted in moments of tension that changed the behavior of the most active slave trading family in U.S. history, the D'Wolfs of Bristol, Rhode Island. Through the trajectory of the D'Wolfs' activities I analyze the characteristics of the late Rhode Island slave trade and how the age of abolition shaped those characteristics. This new context brought tensions that pervaded New England families such as the Browns and the DeWolfs, yet its full effects remain unknown. The article argues that the isolation of Bristol as the main slave trading center in Rhode Island was a product of these tensions. Also taken into consideration is the unique connection between Rhode Islanders and Cuban slavery in the aftermath of the 1807 act abolishing the African slave trade to the United States.