Senator Captain James De Wolf
The recent C-SPAN Book TV presentation by Professor Marcus Rediker, author of the book "The Slave Ship" has uncovered another chapter in the sordid legacy of the human exploitation via slavery, the wealth that was amassed in the wake of human trafficking and the early foundations of the Democratic Party in America.
The name Captain James De Wolf deserves notation in the annals of skulduggery and damnation in American history. De Wolf was a slave ship captain who transported thousands of Africans over to Cuba and North America. In professor Rediker's book is the tale of an African woman who took ill during the voyage across the Atlantic. She was separated from the other Africans who were bound below so that her illness would not be transmitted to the rest and thus Captain De Wolf lose his valuable cargo.
Captain De Wolf originally orders the African woman to the crows nest of the ship. He realizes that she cannot stay there because she is interfering with the operation of the ship. He orders his crew to grab her and throw her over board. The bulk of the crew refuses to murder her in such a way. Captain De Wolf, along with 2 other crew members hoists a chair up to the crows nest, binds the woman to the chair and then lowers her and the chair into the ocean where she drowns.
One of the crew members who was outraged by the entire episode tells of the deed to an Abolitionist organization when they reach the United States. Captain De Wolf is brought to trial for murder. He is found not guilty by a judicial system who is not willing to recognize the humanity of this Black woman and other Africans in their midst. After the trail Captain De Wolf is asked if he has any regrets. He said is quoted as saying "Yes, that was a nice chair that I threw into the ocean".
Captain De Wolf went on to become one of the wealthiest men in the New England states. He later joined the US Congress as a Senator representing the Republican-Democratic Party that was founded by Thomas Jefferson, thus the modern day Democratic Party.
Living Off the Trade:Bristol and the DeWolfs
Rhode Island outlawed slave trading in 1787, but it didn't stop the trafficking. Almost half of all of Rhode Island's slave voyages occurred after trading was outlawed. By the end of the 18th century, Bristol surpassed Newport as the busiest slave port in Rhode Island.
In 1807, the United States Congress, after a bitter debate, banished the slave trade and Rhode Island's 75-year reign sputtered to an end.
Rhode Island's rum mills were gradually replaced by cotton mills. Bristol was broke, Newport was struggling and Providence merchants turned to manufacturing.
Slave Trading In Rhode Island