Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pratt Stories - Ebenezer Bartram's Slaves

Here is something I didn't expect. The Fairfield Bartrams apparently owned negro slaves. I ran into a reference to "a negro girl belonging to Mr. Ebenezer Bartram" and asked Allen  to research the matter. His first report came up with three references: "Dinah, a negro girl belonging to Mr. Ebenezer Bartram" (1731); "Parrot, a negro child belonging to Ebenezer Bartram" (1733) and "Ned, a negro child, servant to Mr. Ebenezer Bartram" (1753). All these references were in church records. The immediate assumption has to be that these children had to have parents, and that the parents were therefore also Bartram-owned slaves. The years of the entries leads me to believe that the owner would have been Ebenezer (Sr) who lived from1699 to 1769.
I Googled "Slavery Colonial Connecticut" and came up with a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute guide from which I will quote:
"The first Blacks came to Connecticut soon after the first settlements were founded. Colonial records note black servants as early as 1660...Connecticut's first Black residents were not held in life bondage, and their bondage was not hereditory...Slavery was also not an exclusively racial institution; it applied to Indians and Whites as well. Habitual White criminals were periodically sold into servitude in the West Indies...Indian slavery was far more common....an ancient custom...the enslavement of captives in the Indian wars...As the Black population grew, servitude...became slavery for life and became hereditory...the state encouraged slave owners to educate the children of their slaves as Christians and teach them to read."
Slavery was outlawed in Connecticut in 1848.

Emailed Oct. 3

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