"Transforming Waste into Wealth: The Political Economy of Alcohol in the Leeward Islands, 1670-1737"

OI Colloquium with Lila O’Leary Chambers Alcohol played a crucial role in supporting the Leeward Islands’ transition from a “society with slaves” to an entrenched “slave society” across the early eighteenth century. Rather than acting solely as a signifier of planter excess, this chapter reveals that white settlers and enslaved and free African and African-descended peoples incorporated it in… Read More

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“‘They brought them from the Palenque’: Captivity and Smuggling in Jamaica, ca. 1660”

OI Colloquium with Casey Schmitt Following the English invasion of Jamaica in 1655, Spanish forces maintained a toehold on the island over five years of guerilla warfare in large part because of the food and shelter they received from three different semi-autonomous Afro-Jamaican communities on the island. While historians discuss two of the three Afro-Jamaican villages, they also often… Read More

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"Mobilizing Illicit Trade When Immobilized by War: A Connecticut Sea Captain in Dutch Statia, 1756-58"

OI Colloquium with Kenneth Banks Drawn from a biography (Ch. 5) of an angry, social ambitious Connecticut sea captain, Thomas Allen, and his family during the era of the American Revolutionary Atlantic, this chapter examines how a ‘middling’ free Settler like Allen escaped a massive debt load through illicit trade during the Seven Years’ War.  The book is an… Read More

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Selling Empire and the 1760s Textile Debate

Today’s post is part of our series marking the 75th anniversary of the Omohundro Institute by exploring the OI books that have had an impact on a scholar’s life. by Abby Chandler This particular story begins at the Newport Historical Society in the summer of 2005. I had just completed the first year of a doctoral program which would result in a dissertation on sexual misconduct trials in colonial New England and my first book, Law and Sexual Misconduct in New England, 1650-1750: Steering Toward England. I was in Rhode Island because I was interning at the NHS and my supervisor had asked me to create a first person interpretive program for a Loyalist named Martin Howard who had lived in their Wanton-Lyman-Hazard house. Among his multiple endeavors, in 1764 Howard helped found an organization known as the Newport Junto, whose members who supported the expansion of the British Empire in the mid-eighteenth century by advocating for a wide range of political causes and interests. They believed the solution for Rhode Island’s bitter partisan politics was for Rhode Island to become a royal colony instead of a chartered colony. They supported the Sugar and Stamp Acts. They published a long series of letters signed by O.Z. in the Newport Mercury in 1764 and 1765 campaigning for home textile production in Rhode Island. Read More

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