New England: Rhode Island, 1775-1776
BY 1770 Aaron Lopez was a man of wealth and position. His ships sailed to Holland, Spain, England, Portugal, the Azores, the Canaries, and to Africa. Together with Rivera he engaged in frequent ventures in the slave trade. In the 1760's this firm sent a boat to Africa practically every year. Beginning with the 1770's the traffic was increased. In some years they sent out three--possibly even four--boats on the long arduous trip. The net return cargo landed at Jamaica ran anywhere from eighty to one hundred slaves, men, women, and children. In this trade that employed each year 100 to 150 Rhode Island vessels it is difficult to determine the relative significance of the Lopez-Rivera interests.
In this period Lopez' whalers were beginning to scour the Arctic Seas in pursuit of their prey, and before the decade had passed they had reached as far as the Falkland Isles, off the coast of Patagonia. The Rhode Island legislature less than a decade earlier had denied him citizenship