2658 East Main Road | Portsmouth, RI | 02871 | (401) 683-9457 | Hours

Slavery in Colonial Rhode Island with Fred Zilian

Enslaved African-Americans of colonial Rhode Island lived and worked, and even sometimes prayed and played next to their white masters; however, with few if any basic human and civil rights, without ownership of their own bodies and destinies, their lives were always less than whole, less than full, less than complete, corrupted by slavery.  This lecture covers slavery in Rhode Island from its inception in 1636, the very year the colony was founded, until the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775. Its main subject areas are: early slavery in British North America, colonial Rhode Island as part of the Atlantic slave trade, slavery in Narragansett Country, the business of slavery in colonial Newport, the lives of the enslaved, and their resistance to enslavement.  This program is presented in collaboration with the Portsmouth Historical Society.

After a 21-year career as an infantry officer in the Army, Fred Zilian was an educator for 23 years at Portsmouth Abbey School, where he taught history, ethics, and German.  Zilian holds a Ph.D. in international relations/strategic studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and book reviews on history, domestic politics, international affairs, Germany, Europe, religion, music, education, climate change, race, globalization, civilization, slavery in America, and the Civil War. 

We will meet at 6:30 PM via zoom for this presentation.  Please register for this discussion and include your email address so that a link may be sent to you.  

Room Reservation: 
Wednesday, February 03
Program Time: 
6:30pm - 7:30pm
Event Category: 
Event Location: 
Name of Organization: 
Portsmouth Free Public Library
Contact Name: 
Carolyn Magnus
Contact Phone Number: 
401 683-9457 ext. 113
Contact Email: