The Black Community
NEWPORT'S UNIQUE INTEREST IN SLAVING earned it a dubious reputation as "the main port of the New England slave trade." 109 At the same time, this traffic in humans gave the townspeople easy access to slaves for their personal use, and since the town found its growth and prosperity quite compatible with slaveholding, the number of bondsmen grew steadily until after mid-century. Although the white population continued to increase until the Revolution, the 1774 census indicates that the black population had remained remarkably stable over the preceding twenty years. 110 The percentage of blacks in the total population, therefore, had declined over two decades. 111 Despite this decline, slaveholding was more pervasive in Newport than one might have expected in a northern city on the eve of the Revolution.
Growth of White, Black, and Indian Population
in Newport, 1730-1774
Source: Valuation of the Cities and Towns in the State of Rhode Island from 1860-1869|
for Purposes of Taxation. Together with the Census of the Colony in 1730 and 1775
and Other Statistics, ed. Elisha Dyer ( Providence, 1871); Account of the People of the
Colony of Rhode Island, Whites and Blacks Together with the Quantity of Arms and