Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North

Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North

Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North

Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 . . .

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