Ports with ships in the commercial Halifax trade, late 18th Century

Ports with ships in the commercial Halifax trade, late 18th Century

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Halifax, Nova Scotia, was founded by the British in 1749; I am interested in the commercial trade during the French Revolutionary Wars, 1792 thru 1798, which is the period of the First Coalition.

The source of the map is James Cheshire at Spatial Analysis, who took the log data from the CLIWOC project database. The database itself is no longer accessible. But see here. I was able to track down a copy of the database, but it requires MS Access 2000 to read the data, and I have not been able to find a tool to convert the data to the more recent MS Access format.

Map shows British trade routes as derived from ship's logs between 1750 and 1800.

I am interested in learning which ports, American and British, were active in the shipping trade, both to and from Halifax, during this time period.

I have now downloaded the CLIWOC15_2000.zip file, unzipped it to CLIWOC15_2000.mdb, and successfully opened it with MS-ACCESS 2016 by holding SHIFT down while doing so (This disables any startup macros.) I then declined the option of enabling active content.

The following query

SELECT ShipName, ShipType, VoyageIni, VoyageFrom, VoyageTo, Company, Nationality, Name1, Rank1, Name2, Rank2 ,count(*) as Records FROM CLIWOC15 WHERE ( VoyageFrom Like "HALIFAX*" OR VoyageTo Like "HALIFAX*" ) AND Year BETWEEN 1792 and 1798 GROUP BY ShipName, ShipType, VoyageIni, VoyageFrom, VoyageTo, Company, Nationality, Name1, Rank1, Name2, Rank2 ORDER BY ShipName, ShipType, VoyageIni ;

(where Year is that of the log entry) then returns these five Royal Navy voyages:

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Barbados in many respects was England's first experimental tropical agricultural export colony, and was successful for a number of related reasons. Contemporary opinion in the late seventeenth century acclaimed it the 'richest spote of ground in the worlde.' Private English capital, with the Crown's blessing, financed settlement in 1627. Market conditions for its first commercial crop, tobacco, enabled the accumulation of quick profits, which were later utilised to finance the shift to sugar production in the 1650s, after large scale, high quality Virginian tobacco production caused a glut on the European market and prices plummeted.

In the first decade, when settlement was tenuous, the first Barbadian settlers encountered no opposition from Spanish or French rivals, nor was there a native Amerindian presence to overcome. In fact, the opposite occurred. Amerindians were brought from Guiana in order to instruct the early settlers in survival skills, such as knowledge of local foods and preparation methods, and the most effective ways of clearing dense tropical forest. The Dutch were also helpful in nurturing the young colony. A locally elected legislature or House of Assembly was formed in 1639, which along with a nominated advisory Council and the Crown's representative, the Governor of the island, ruled the island in tandem with the state sanctioned religion, the Anglican Church.

. profound demographic and economic changes created a whole new society.

Just as the attempts at alternate crops such as indigo and ginger seemed doomed to failure, international affairs conspired to create an economic opening which guaranteed the survival and prosperity of Barbados. The Dutch in north-east Brazil and their allied community of Sephardic Jews were expelled from Recife and Bahia. Barbadian planters such as the Draxes, made contact with individuals fleeing Brazil, and a most successful transference of the sugar industry took place. The climate and soil conditions in Barbados were perfect for the growing of this sweet grass

In a short space of twenty years, the economic phenomenon known as the Sugar Revolution transformed the face of Barbados forever. Tropical luxuriance gave way to a carefully controlled garden-like appearance of the entire island, as almost complete deforestation occurred. Not only was nature subjected to man's tight control, but profound demographic and economic changes created a whole new society.

New docks were necessary as the current moorings were based around a collection of just 20 wharves, originally appointed in 1558 by Elizabeth I. The congestion was intolerable, the river traffic chaotic, the merchants and ship owners angry.

By 1760 the system had reached breaking point: the Pool of London’s capacity was 542 ships but it regularly squeezed in almost 2,000 vessels. [2] Spectators reported a ‘double forest of masts, with a narrow avenue mid-channel’ that sometimes closed in gridlock. Goods, domestic and foreign, much expensively imported from the Empire, often spoiled aboard because there were no facilities to unload and store them. Navigation was ‘frequently impeded, and the losses, damages, accidents, and plunder’ sustained were huge. Cargo was at the mercy of ‘river pirates’, ‘scuffle hunters’ and ‘mudlarks’ who stole and smuggled goods from ships waiting up to two weeks to be off-loaded. [3] Vaughan estimated that traders were losing between £2–300,000 per annum. [4]

‘Commerce, Shipping, and Revenue, for the Port of London…nearly trebled itself’ in the 18th century, Vaughan wrote, and formed ‘above three-fifths of the Trade of all England’. [5] In today’s money £13 million was made from trade imports in 1700 rising to £34 million in 1790. [6] Much of the stock came from the fleet of 1,000-ton East India Company ships, bringing prized commodities like tea, spices, textiles, furnishings and bullion from Bengal and China. Merchant frigates from the West Indies imported tobacco, sugar, rum, cotton and mahogany. Slave ships also passed in and out of the port.

On the eve of a new century, Vaughan argued that ‘England never had a fairer opportunity of becoming the great Depot for all Europe’. [7] ‘The Docks and Canal, as National Objects, would give Protection and Security to an amazing floating Capital’. [8] Never mind about the current residents of areas proposed to be demolished for the new constructions: they lived in ancient and rickety buildings on streets surrounded by wasted pastures, and were only ‘weekly or monthly’ tenants anyway. [9] It was their duty, Vaughan implied, to defer to the national economic good.

The merchant’s free-market rallying cry was heard and a Parliamentary report was produced in 1796 on his evidence. [10] Opposition came from individuals with vested interests in the current arrangements, but also from porters and car-men working on the bankside, from ‘lightermen’ who off-loaded cargo from moored ships onto smaller nimbler vessels, and from the owners of the original wharves and quays who would lose much of their business.

However, these objections were finally met and in May 1800 a bill was passed to proceed with a scheme of new docks. The Times reacted to Parliament’s announcement with praise: ‘It must be, it ought to be expected, that in the first city of the world, schemes of national amelioration are adopted’ to ‘increase commercial wealth’ and advance ‘public improvement and happiness’. [11] Ambitious plans were submitted from individuals from local boroughs, military surveyors and private companies of architects and engineers.

An Elevated View of the New Docks & Warehouses now constructing on the Isle of Dogs

This aquatint, produced by William Daniell, depicts the newly built West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs in east London

Rhode Island

Newport region:

Naval War College Museum -- Newport

The history of naval warfare is the principal theme of the Naval War College Museum, which is located in Founders Hall (1820), the original site of the College (1884 - 1889) and a National Historic Landmark. In its broadest application, this encompasses theories and concepts of sea power, international and maritime law, foreign policy formulation, diplomacy, and naval operations. Open year-round seasonal hours.

International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) & Museum of Yachting – Newport

Originally located at Fort Adams, The Museum of Yachting merged with IYRS in 2007 & moved to the Aquidneck Mill Building on its Thames Street campus. Together the two organizations bring to the public eye the beauty and excitement which has led sailors to the water for centuries. It is a lively organization which reflects the international flavor of yachting in Newport, dedicated to the preservation & teaching of the traditional skills, documents, vessels, and artifacts which record and describe the history and development of yachting around the world.

Museum of Newport History – Newport

Housed in the 1762 Brick Market, exhibits shown here at the Museum of Newport History bring to life aspects of Newport’s history from the 1600s through the Gilded Age. Decorative arts, artifacts of everyday life, graphics, historic photographs, and audio-visual programs tell Newport's story. The museum contains paintings, Colonial silver, the printing press used by James Franklin, and much more. Open seasonally call ahead.

The Herreshoff Marine Museum and America's Cup Hall of Fame – Bristol

The Herreshoff Marine Museum contains a collection of 35 classic and power yachts from the Golden Age of Yachting to today. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, a major player during yachting's heyday, built eight America's Cup defenders from 1893 to 1934. It also built America's first torpedo. Open: May to October.

The scramble to join the trade

Spain didn't engage in the slave trade directly but was supplied with Africans by various countries via a series of asientos (contracts). However, other maritime nations wanted their own slave trade. The English, for example, established a joint-stock enterprise, the Royal African Company, but this monopoly failed to provide planters with what they wanted and simply gave way under the growing colonial demand for more forced African labour. When a freer British slave trade was finally established – after protracted political and commercial argument – it ushered in an era of massive expansion. Enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic in huge and increasing numbers. By the peak years of the 18th century, the British were shipping 40,000 people a year.

European traders scrambled to join in the slave trading business. Monarchs and princes, powerful merchants and landowners, even small craftsmen and modest property owners invested in slave ships. They all hoped it would yield the fabled wealth that quickly came to be attached to transatlantic slavery. In fact, the profits derived from slave voyages were often more modest than we imagine, but the prospects of great profit lured people of all sorts and conditions to invest in the trade in African humanity.


The Port of London has been central to the economy of London since the founding of the city in the 1st century and was a major contributor to the growth and success of the city. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the busiest port in the world, with wharves extending continuously along the Thames for 11 miles (18 km), and over 1,500 cranes handling 60,000 ships per year. In World War II, it was a prime target for the Luftwaffe during The Blitz.

The Roman Port in London Edit

The first evidence of a reasonable sized trading in London can be seen during Roman control of Britain, at which time the Romans built the original harbour. The construction involved expanding the waterfront using wooden frames filled with dirt. Once these were in place, the wharf was built in four stages moving downstream from the London Bridge. [6] The port began to rapidly grow and prosper during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and saw its final demise in the early 5th century with the decline in trade activity due to the Roman departure from the Britain. The changes made to the banks along the port made by the Romans are so substantial and long lasting that it was hard to tell where the natural waterfront really began. [7] [8]

London became a very important trading port for the Romans at its height in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The harbour town grew and expanded quickly. The lavish nature of goods traded in London shaped the extravagant lifestyle of its citizens and the city flourished under Roman colonization. [9] The Roman expansion of port facilities and organisation of the London harbour have remained as the base of the London harbour until today.

Pool of London Edit

Until the beginning of the 19th century, shipping was handled entirely within the Pool of London on the stretch of the River Thames along Billingsgate on the south side of the City of London. All imported cargoes had to be delivered for inspection and assessment by Customs Officers, giving the area the name of "Legal Quays". [10] The Pool saw a phenomenal increase in both overseas and coastal trade in the second half of the 18th century. Two thirds of coastal vessels using the Pool were colliers meeting an increase in the demand for coal as the population of London rose. Coastal trade virtually doubled between 1750 and 1796 reaching 11,964 vessels in 1795. In overseas trade, in 1751 the pool handled 1,682 ships and 234,639 tons of goods. By 1794, this had risen to 3,663 ships and 620,845 tons. [11] By this time, the river was lined with nearly continuous walls of wharves running for miles along both banks, and hundreds of ships moored in the river or alongside the quays. In the late 18th century, an ambitious scheme was proposed by Willey Reveley to straighten the Thames between Wapping and Woolwich Reach by cutting a new channel across the Rotherhithe, Isle of Dogs, and Greenwich peninsulas. The three great horseshoe bends would be cut off with locks, as huge wet docks. [12] This was not realised, though a much smaller channel, the City Canal, was subsequently cut across the Isle of Dogs.

Enclosed dock systems Edit

London's Docklands had their origins in the lack of capacity in the Pool of London which particularly affected the West India trade. In 1799, the West India Dock Act allowed a new off-river dock to be built for produce from the West Indies [10] and the rest of Docklands followed as landowners built enclosed docks with better security and facilities than the Pool's wharves.

Throughout the 19th century, a series of enclosed dock systems was built, surrounded by high walls to protect cargoes from river piracy. These included West India Docks (1802), East India Docks (1803, originating from the Brunswick Dock of 1790), London Docks (1805), Surrey Commercial Docks (1807, originating from the Howland Great Wet Dock of 1696), St Katharine Docks (1828), Royal Victoria Dock (1855), Millwall Dock (1868), Royal Albert Dock (1880), and Tilbury docks (1886).

The enclosed docks were built by several rival private companies, notably the East & West India Docks Company (owners of the East India, West India, and Tilbury docks), Surrey Commercial Docks Company and London & St Katharine Docks Company (owners of the London, St Katharine and Royal docks). By the beginning of the 20th century, competition and strikes led to pressure for amalgamation. A Royal Commission led to the setting up of the Port of London Authority (PLA) in 1908. In 1909, the PLA took control of the enclosed docks from Tower Bridge to Tilbury, with a few minor exceptions such as Poplar Dock which remained as a railway company facility. It also took over control of the river between Teddington Lock and Yantlet Creek from the City corporation which had been responsible since the 13th century. The PLA head Office at Trinity Square Gardens was built by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1919. [13]

The PLA dredged a deep water channel, added the King George V Dock (1920) to the Royal group, and made continuous improvements to the other enclosed dock systems throughout the first two thirds of the 20th century. This culminated in expansion of Tilbury in the late 1960s to become a major container port (the UK's largest in the early 1970s), together with a huge riverside grain terminal and mechanised facilities for timber handling. Under the PLA, London's annual trade had grown to 60 million tons (38% of UK trade) by 1939, but was mainly transferred to the Clyde and Liverpool during World War 2. After the war, London recovered, again reaching 60 million tons in the 1960s.

Summary timeline
Principal enclosed docks of the Port of London
Year Name Company Area
(water area unless stated)
Location name Side of river Approx. river distance
below London Bridge
1802 West India Docks E&WIDC North (Import) Dock: 30 acres (12 ha)
Middle (Export) Dock: 24 acres (9.7 ha)
Isle of Dogs north 3 mi (4.8 km)
1803 East India Docks E&WIDC 18 acres (7.3 ha) Blackwall north 7 mi (11 km) originating from the
Brunswick Dock of 1790
1805 London Docks L&StKDC Western Dock: 20 acres (8.1 ha)
Eastern Dock: 7 acres (2.8 ha)
30 acres (12 ha) (land)
Wapping north 1.5 mi (2.4 km)
1807 Surrey Commercial Docks SCDC 17th-century original: 10 acres (4.0 ha)
eventually reached: 460 acres (190 ha)
Rotherhithe south 4 mi (6.4 km) originating from the
Howland Great Wet Dock of 1696
1828 St Katharine Docks L&StKDC 23 acres (9.3 ha) (land) Tower Hamlets north 1 mi (1.6 km)
1855 Royal Victoria Dock L&StKDC ? Plaistow Marshes
today Silvertown
north 8 mi (13 km)
1860s South West India Dock E&WIDC ? Isle of Dogs north 3.5 mi (5.6 km)
1868 Millwall Dock Millwall Dock Company 36 acres (15 ha)
200 acres (81 ha) (land)
Millwall north 4 mi (6.4 km)
1880 Royal Albert Dock L&StKDC ? Gallions Reach north 11.5 mi (18.5 km)
1886 Tilbury Docks E&WIDC ? Tilbury north 25 mi (40 km)
1912 King George V Dock PLA 64 acres (26 ha) North Woolwich north 11 mi (18 km)
Company name
Company name
E&WIDC East & West India Docks Company
L&StKDC London & St Katharine Docks Company
SCDC Surrey Commercial Docks Company
PLA Port of London Authority

Dockhands Edit

By 1900, the wharves and docks were receiving about 7.5 million tons of cargo each an inevitable result of the extending reach of the British Empire. [14] Of course, because of its size and grandeur, the Port was a place of work for many laborers in late 19th and early 20th century London. While most of the dockers were casual laborers, there were skilled workers in the stevedores who skillfully loaded ships and the lightermen who unloaded cargo from moored boats via barges. While these specific dockhands found regular work, the average dockhand lived day to day, hoping he would be hired whenever a ship came in. Many times these workers would actually bribe simply for a day's work and a day's work could be 24 hours of continuous laboring. In addition, the work itself was incredibly dangerous. A docker would suffer a fatal injury from falling cargo almost every week during 1900, and nonfatal injuries happened even more often. [15]

The London dockers handled exotic imports such as precious stones, African ivory, Indian spices, and Jamaican rum that they could never dream of purchasing themselves, and so robberies were very common on the London docks. Dockers would either hide goods under their clothes while leaving or break into warehouses at night, although the later strategy was only employed by professional robbers. While tobacco, pineapples, bearskins, and other goods were all targets of thievery, the most common transgression was drinking. Many reports from the early 20th century detail dockers stealing bottles of brandy or gin and drinking rather than working. More often than not, the consequences were harsh. Five weeks of hard labor for one bottle of Hennessy was not unheard of. [16]

These conditions eventually spurred Ben Tillett to lead the London Dock strike of 1889. Even though the workers asked for only a minuscule increase in payment, foremen initially refused. Over time the strike grew and eventually the strike helped to draw attention to the poor conditions of London dockhands. The strike also revitalized the British Trades Union movement, leading to the betterment of laborers across London. [17]

Port industries Edit

Alongside the docks many port industries developed, some of which (notably sugar refining, edible oil processing, vehicle manufacture and lead smelting) survive today. Other industries have included iron working, casting of brass and bronze, shipbuilding, timber, grain, cement and paper milling, armament manufacture, etc. London dominated the world submarine communication cable industry for decades with works at Greenwich, Silvertown, North Woolwich, Woolwich and Erith.

For centuries London was the major centre of shipbuilding in Britain (for example at Blackwall Yard, London Yard, Samuda Yard, Millwall Iron Works, Thames Ironworks, Greenwich, and Deptford and Woolwich dockyards), but declined relative to the Clyde and other centres from the mid-19th century. This also affected an attempt by Henry Bessemer to establish steel-making on the Greenwich Peninsula in the 1860s. [18] The last major warship, HMS Thunderer, was launched in 1911.

The volume of shipping in the Port of London supported a very extensive ship repairing industry. In 1864, when most ships coming in were built of wood and powered by sail, there were 33 ship-repairing dry docks. The largest of these was Langley's Lower Dock at Deptford Green, which was 460 ft (140 m) in length. While the building of large ships ceased with the closure of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company at Leamouth in 1912, the ship repairing trade continued to flourish. Although by 1930 the number of major dry docks had been reduced to 16, highly mechanised and geared to the repair of iron and steel-hulled ships. [19]

There were also numerous power stations and gas works on the Thames and its tributaries and canals. Major Thames-side gasworks were located at Beckton and East Greenwich, with power stations including Brimsdown, Hackney and West Ham on the River Lea and Kingston, Fulham, Lots Road, Wandsworth, Battersea, Bankside, Stepney, Deptford, Greenwich, Blackwall Point, Brunswick Wharf, Woolwich, Barking, Belvedere, Littlebrook, West Thurrock, Northfleet, Tilbury and Grain on the Thames.

The coal requirements of power stations and gas works constituted a large proportion of London's post-war trade. A 1959 Times article [20] states:

About two-thirds of the 20 million tons of coal entering the Thames each year is consumed in nine gas works and 17 generating stations. Beckton Gas Works carbonises an average of 4,500 tons of coal every day the largest power stations burn about 3,000 tons during a winter day.. .. Three more power stations, at Belvedere (Oil-firing), and Northfleet and West Thurrock (coal-firing), are being built.

This coal was handled directly by riverside coal handling facilities, rather than the docks. For example, Beckton Gas Works had two large piers which dealt with both its own requirements and with the transfer of coal to lighters for delivery to other gasworks.

A considerable proportion of the drop in London's trade since the 1960s is accounted for by loss of the coal trade, the gas works having closed following discovery of North Sea gas, domestic use of coal for heating being largely replaced by gas and electricity, and closure of all the coal-burning power stations above Tilbury. In 2011, when Tilbury Power Station switched fully to burning biomass, London's coal imports fell to zero. [21]

The move downstream Edit

With the use of larger ships and containerisation, the importance of the upstream port declined rapidly from the mid-1960s. The enclosed docks further up river declined and closed progressively between the end of the 1960s and the early 1980s. Trade at privately owned wharves on the open river continued for longer, for example with container handling at the Victoria Deep Water Terminal on the Greenwich Peninsula into the 1990s, and bulk paper import at Convoy's Wharf in Deptford until 2000. The wider port continued to be a major centre for trade and industry, with oil and gas terminals at Coryton, Shell Haven and Canvey in Essex and the Isle of Grain in Kent. In 1992 Government privatisation policy led to Tilbury becoming a freeport. The PLA ceased to be a port operator, retaining the role of managing the Thames.

Much of the disused land of the upstream London Docklands is in the process of being developed for housing and as a second financial district for London (centred on Canary Wharf).

The Port of London today comprises over 70 independently owned terminals and port facilities, directly employing over 30,000 people. [22] These are mainly concentrated at Purfleet (with the world's largest margarine works), Thurrock, Tilbury (the Port's current main container facility), London Gateway, Coryton and Canvey Island in Essex, Dartford and Northfleet in Kent, and Greenwich, Silvertown, Barking, Dagenham and Erith in Greater London.

The Port of London handles containers, timber, paper, vehicles, aggregates, crude oil, petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gas, coal, metals, grain and other dry and liquid bulk materials.

In 2012 London was the second largest port in the United Kingdom by tonnage handled (43.7 million), after Grimsby and Immingham (60 million). [3] The Port of London however handles the most non-fuel cargo of any port in the UK (at 32.2 million tonnes in 2007). Other major rival ports to London in the country are Felixstowe and Southampton, which handle the most and second-most number of containers of British ports in 2012 London handled the third most and the Medway ports (chiefly London Thamesport) the fifth. [23]

The number of twenty-foot equivalent units of containers handled by the Port of London exceeded two million in 2007 for the first time in the Port's history and this continued in 2008. The Port's capacity in handling modern, large ships and containers is set to dramatically expand with the completion of the London Gateway port project, which will be able to handle up to 3.5 million TEUs per year when fully completed.

With around 12,500 commercial shipping movements annually, the Port of London handles around 10% of the UK commercial shipping trade, and contributes 8.5 billion pounds to the UK's economy. In addition to cargo, 37 cruise ships visited the Port in 2008.

Once a major refiner of crude oil, today the port only imports refined products. The Kent (BP) and Shell Haven (Shell) refineries closed in 1982 and 1999, and Coryton in 2012. A number of upstream wharves remain in use. At Silvertown, for example, Tate & Lyle continues to operate the world's largest cane sugar refinery, originally served by the West India Docks but now with its own cargo handling facilities. Many wharves as far upstream as Fulham are used for the handling of aggregates brought by barge from facilities down river. Riverside sites in London are under intense pressure for prestige housing or office development, and as a consequence the Greater London Authority in consultation with the PLA has implemented a plan to safeguard 50 wharves, half above and half below the Thames Barrier. [24]

Intraport traffic Edit

In recent years there has been a resurgence in the use of the River Thames for moving cargo between terminals within the Port of London. This is seen to be in the main part due to the environmental benefits of moving such cargo by river, and as an alternative to transporting the cargo on the congested road and rail networks of the capital. Local authorities are contributing to this increase in intraport traffic, with waste transfer and demolition rubble being taken by barges on the river. The construction of the Olympic Park and Crossrail both utilised the river as a means of transporting cargo and waste/excavation material, and the ongoing Thames Tideway Scheme also uses the river for these purposes, as well as for transporting of its Tunnel Boring Machines [25] as well as temporary offices. [26] The Crossrail project alone involved the transporting of 5 million tonnes of material, almost all of which is clean earth, excavated from the ground, downstream through the Port, from locations such as Canary Wharf to new nature reserves being constructed in the Thames estuary area. [27] This also includes the re-opening of wharves or jetties for various building projects along or near the Thames, Battersea coal jetty being the most recent.

In 2008, the figure for intraport trade was 1.9 million tonnes, making the River Thames the busiest inland waterway in the UK.

Proposed expansion Edit

In terms of number of containers, London currently ranks third in the UK after the ports of Southampton and Felixstowe. This is likely to change in future as a major new facility at the Shell Haven refinery site - DP World's London Gateway - is under construction. Government approval was given in May 2007 for the redevelopment of this 607 hectares (1,500 acres) brownfield site, which has a two-mile (3 km) river frontage. The developers plan a port capable of handling the largest deep-sea container ships, including a 2,300 metre long container quay with a capacity of 3.5 million standard container units a year. The development will also include a 300 hectares (740 acres) 'logistics and business park', with direct links to the rail network. [28] This might re-establish London's pre-eminence as originally intended by the PLA in the 1960s with its proposed development of a deep-sea port at Maplin Sands as part of the proposed third London airport site.

The Port of London once had its own police force - the Port of London Authority Police - but is today policed by a number of forces. These are the local territorial police forces of the areas the Thames passes through (the Metropolitan, City of London, Essex and Kent forces) and the Port of Tilbury Police (formed in 1992 and a remnant of the old PLA force). The Metropolitan police have a special Marine Support Unit, formerly known as the Thames Division, which patrol and police the Thames in the Greater London area. A sixth police force in the Port may be established with the creation of the London Gateway port. [ citation needed ]


Black Nova Scotians by share of overall Black Canadian population:

Year Number of Black Canadians Number of Black Nova Scotians Percent of all Black Canadians living in Nova Scotia
1881 [12] 21,394 7,062 33%
1951 [13] 18,020 8,141 45%
2016 [14] 1,198,545 21,910 2%

17th century Edit

Port Royal Edit

The first recorded Black person in Canada was Mathieu da Costa. He arrived in Nova Scotia sometime between 1605 and 1608 as a translator for the French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts. The first known Black person to live in Canada was an enslaved person from Madagascar named Olivier Le Jeune (who may have been of partial Malay ancestry).

18th century Edit

Louisbourg Edit

Of the 10,000 French living at Louisbourg (1713–1760) and on the rest of Ile Royale, 216 were African-descended enslaves peoples. [16] [17] [18] [19] According to historian Kenneth Donovan, slaves on Ile Royal worked as "servants, gardeners, bakers, tavern keepers, stone masons, musicians, laundry workers, soldiers, sailors, fishermen, hospital workers, ferry men, executioners and nursemaids." [20] [21] More than 90 per cent of the enslaved people were Blacks from the French West Indies, which included Saint-Domingue, the chief sugar colony, and Guadeloupe. [22]

Halifax Edit

Among the founders recorded for Halifax, were 17 free Black people. By 1767, there were 54 Blacks living in Halifax. [23] [24] When Halifax, Nova Scotia was established (1749), some British people brought slaves to the city. For example, shipowner and trader Joshua Mauger sold enslaved people at auction there. A few newspaper advertisements were published for run-away slaves. [25] [26]

The first Black community in Halifax was on Albemarle Street, which later became the site of the first school for Black students in Nova Scotia (1786). [27] [28] [29] The school for Black students was the only charitable school in Halifax for the next 26 years. Whites were not allowed to attend. [30] [28] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

Prior to 1799, 29 recorded Blacks were buried in the Old Burying Ground (Halifax, Nova Scotia), of which 12 of them were listed with both first and last names seven of the graves are from the New England Planter migration (1763-1775) and 22 graves are from immediately following the arrival of the Black Loyalists in 1776. [36] [37] Rev. John Breynton reported that in 1783, he baptized 40 Blacks and buried many because of disease. [28] [38]

According to a 1783 report, 73 Blacks arrived in Halifax from New York. [39] Of the 4007 Blacks who came to Nova Scotia in 1783 as part of promised resettlement by the Crown, 69% (2775) were free, 35% (1423) were former British soldiers, and 31% (1232) were enslaved people of white Loyalists. While 41 former enslaved people were sent to Dartmouth, none were sent to Halifax. [40] 550 Jamaican Maroons lived in Halifax for four years (1796-1800) they were resettled in Freetown (now Sierra Leone). [41] A return in December 1816 indicates there were 155 Blacks who migrated to Halifax during the War of 1812. [42]

American Revolution Edit

The British had promised enslaved people of rebels freedom if they joined their forces. Some arrived during the war in Nova Scotia as a result of the Underground Railroad. At the end of the American War of Independence, the British evacuated thousands of Black Loyalists, settling many in the British colony of Nova Scotia, Canada. Following Dunmore's Proclamation, the British authorities in American colonies had promised freedom to those enslaved people of the rebelling Americans, who escaped and made their way into British lines. Large numbers of enslaved people took advantage of this opportunity and they made their way over to the British side, as did a much smaller number of free people of color.

Approximately three thousand Black Loyalists were evacuated by ship to Nova Scotia between April and November 1783, traveling on Navy vessels or British chartered private transports. [43] This group was made up largely of tradespeople and labourers. Many of these African Americans had roots mainly in such American states as Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Maryland. [44] Some came from Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York as well. [45] Many of these African-American settlers were recorded in the Book of Negroes.

In 1785 in Halifax, educational opportunities began to develop with the establishment of Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (Bray Schools). [8] [9] [46] In Halifax, for example, the first teacher was the "capable and serious Negroe woman'. [35] Initially, the school was in the Orphan House and had 36 Black children, six of whom were enslaved. She was followed by Reverend William Furmage (d. 1793), Huntingdonian Missionary who was buried in the Old Burying Ground (Halifax, Nova Scotia). [47] [48] After a year he was followed by Isaac Limerick. [35] Limerick moved the school and went into debt to maintain it. The next teacher was a white woman, Mrs. Deborah Clarke (1793-1809), followed by Mary Fitzgerald. The school was dissolved in 1814 (when the Royal Acadian School was established for Blacks and whites). [35] [ page needed ] The next teacher was Daniel Gallagher, who held the position of schoolmaster for a long period. The school was in the Black community on Albemarle Street, where it served the people for decades under the son of Rev. Charles Inglis. [28] [49]

Reverend William Furmage, Huntingdonian Missionary to the Black Loyalists, established black school in Halifax [47] [48]

Charles Inglis, supported education for Black Nova Scotians

Black Pioneers Edit

Many of the black Loyalists performed military service in the British Army, particularly as part of the only black regiment of the war, the Black Pioneers, while others served non-military roles. The soldiers of the Black Pioneers settled in Digby and were given small compensation in comparison to the white Loyalist soldiers. [52] Many of the blacks settled under the leadership of Stephen Blucke, a prominent black leader of the Black Pioneers. Historian Barry Moody has referred to Blucke as "the true founder of the Afro-Nova Scotian community." [53] [54]

Birchtown Edit

Blucke led the founding of Birchtown, Nova Scotia in 1783. The community was the largest settlement of Black Loyalists and was the largest free settlement of Africans in North America in the 18th century. The community was named after British Brigadier General Samuel Birch, an official who assisted in the evacuation of Black Loyalists from New York. (Also named after the general was a much smaller settlement of Black Loyalists in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia called Birchtown. [55] ) The two other significant Black Loyalist communities established in Nova Scotia were Brindley town (present-day Jordantown) and Tracadie. Birchtown was located near the larger town of Shelburne, with a majority white population. Racial tensions in Shelburne erupted into the 1784 Shelburne riots, when white Loyalist residents drove Black residents out of Shelburne and into Birchtown. In the years after the riot, Shelbourne county lost population due to economic factors, and at least half of the families in Birchtown abandoned the settlement and emigrated to Sierra Leone in 1792. [56] To accommodate these British subjects, the British government approved 16,000 pounds for the emigration, three times the total annual budget for Nova Scotia. [57] They were led to Sierra Leone by John Clarkson (abolitionist) and became known as the Nova Scotian Settlers. [58]

Tracadie Edit

The other significant Black Loyalist settlement is Tracadie. Led by Thomas Brownspriggs, Black Nova Scotians who had settled at Chedabucto Bay behind the present-day village of Guysborough migrated to Tracadie (1787). [59] None of the blacks in eastern Nova Scotia migrated to Sierra Leone.

One of the Black Loyalist was Andrew Izard (c. 1755 – ?). He was a former enslaved person of Ralph Izard in St. George, South Carolina. He worked on a rice plantation and grew up on Combahee. When he was young he was valued at 100 pounds. In 1778 Izard made his escape. During the American Revolution he worked for the British army in the wagonmaster-general's department. He was on one of the final ships to leave New York in 1783. He traveled on the Nisbett in November, which sailed to Port Mouton. The village burned to the ground in the spring of 1784 and he was transported to Guysborough. There he raised a family and still has descendants that live in the community. [60]

Education in the Black community was initially advocated by Charles Inglis who sponsored the Protestant Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. [61] Some of the schoolmasters were: Thomas Brownspriggs (c.1788–1790) and Dempsey Jordan (1818–?). [62] There were 23 Black families at Tracadie in 1808 by 1827 this number had increased to 30 or more. [63]

Abolishment of slavery, 1787–1812 Edit

While most Blacks who arrived in Nova Scotia during the American Revolution were free, others were not. [64] Black enslaved peoples also arrived in Nova Scotia as the property of White American Loyalists. [65] In 1772, prior to the American Revolution, Britain outlawed the slave trade in the British Isles followed by the Knight v. Wedderburn decision in Scotland in 1778. This decision, in turn, influenced the colony of Nova Scotia. [66] In 1788, abolitionist James Drummond MacGregor from Pictou published the first anti-slavery literature in Canada and began purchasing slaves' freedom and chastising his colleagues in the Presbyterian church who owned enslaves people. [67] Historian Alan Wilson describes the document as "a landmark on the road to personal freedom in province and country." [68] Historian Robin Winks writes it is "the sharpest attack to come from a Canadian pen even into the 1840s he had also brought about a public debate which soon reached the courts." [69] In 1790 John Burbidge freed the people he had enslaved.

Led by Richard John Uniacke, in 1787, 1789 and again on January 11, 1808, the Nova Scotian legislature refused to legalize slavery. [70] [71] Two chief justices, Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange (1790–1796) and Sampson Salter Blowers (1797–1832) waged "judicial war" in their efforts to free enslaved people from their owners in Nova Scotia. [72] [73] [74] They were held in high regard in the colony. Justice Alexander Croke (1801–1815) also impounded American slave ships during this time period (the most famous being the Liverpool Packet). During the war, Nova Scotian Sir William Winniett served as a crew on board HMS Tonnant in the effort to free enslaved people from America. (As the Governor of the Gold Coast, Winniett would later also work to end the slave trade in Western Africa.) By the end of the War of 1812 and the arrival of the Black Refugees, there were few enslaved peoples left in Nova Scotia. [63] [75] (The Slave Trade Act outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 outlawed slavery all together.)

Abolitionist Richard John Uniacke, helped free Black Nova Scotian slaves

Chief Justice Sampson Salter Blowers, freed Black Nova Scotian slaves

Chief Justice Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange, freed Black Nova Scotian slaves

Jamaican Maroons Edit

According to one historian, on June 26, 1796, 543 men, women and children, Jamaican Maroons, were deported on board the ships Dover, Mary and Anne, from Jamaica after being defeated in an uprising against the British colonial government. [76] However, many historians disagree on the number who were transported from Jamaica to Nova Scotia, with one saying that 568 Maroons of Cudjoe's Town (Trelawny Town) made the trip in 1796. [77] It seems that just under 600 left Jamaica, with 17 dying on the ship, and 19 in their first winter in Nova Scotia. A Canadian surgeon counted 571 Maroons in Nova Scotia in 1797. [78] Their initial destination was Lower Canada but on July 21 and 23, the ships arrived in Nova Scotia. At this time Halifax was experiencing a major construction boom initiated by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn's efforts to modernize the city's defenses. The many building projects had created a labour shortage. Edward was impressed by the Maroons and immediately put them to work at the Citadel in Halifax, Government House, and other defense works throughout the city.

The British Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth, from the monies provided by the Jamaican Government, procured an annual stipend of £240 for the support of a school and religious education. [79] The Maroons complained about the bitterly cold winters, their segregated conditions, unfamiliar farming methods, and less than adequate accommodation. [80] The Maroon leader, Montague James, petitioned the British government for the right to passage to Sierra Leone, and they were eventually granted that opportunity in the face of opposition from Wentworth. On August 6, 1800, the Maroons departed Halifax, arriving on October 1 at Freetown, Sierra Leone. [79] [81] In their new home, the Maroons established a new community at Maroon Town, Sierra Leone. [82]

19th century Edit

In 1808, George Prévost authorized a Black regiment to be formed in the colony under captain Silas Hardy and Col. Christopher Benson. [83]

War of 1812 Edit

The next major migration of Blacks into Nova Scotia occurred between 1813 and 1815. Black Refugees from the United States settled in many parts of Nova Scotia including Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Lucasville and Africville.

Canada was not suited to the large-scale plantation agriculture practiced in the southern United States, and slavery became increasingly rare. In 1793, in one of the first acts of the new Upper Canadian colonial parliament, slavery was abolished. It was all but abolished throughout the other British North American colonies by 1800, and was illegal throughout the British Empire after 1834. This made Canada an attractive destination for those fleeing slavery in the United States, such as American minister Boston King.

Royal Acadian School Edit

In 1814, Walter Bromley opened the Royal Acadian School which included many Black students – children and adults – whom he taught on the weekends because they were employed during the week. [85] Some of the Black students entered into business in Halifax while others were hired as servants. [86]

In 1836, the African School was established in Halifax from the Protestant Gospel School (Bray School) and was soon followed by similar schools at Preston, Hammond's Plains and Beech Hill. [87] [88]

New Horizons Baptist Church Edit

Following Black Loyalist preacher David George, Baptist minister John Burton was one of the first ministers to integrate Black and white Nova Scotians into the same congregation. [89] In 1811 Burton's church had 33 members, the majority of whom were free Blacks from Halifax and the neighbouring settlements of Preston and Hammonds Plains. According to historian Stephen Davidson, the Blacks were "shunned, or merely tolerated, by the rest of Christian Halifax, the Blacks were first warmly received in the Baptist Church." [89] Burton became known as "an apostle to the coloured people" and would often be sent out by the Baptist association on missionary visits to the black communities surrounding Halifax. He was the mentor of Richard Preston.

New Horizons Baptist Church (formerly known as Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, the African Chapel, and the African Baptist Church) is a baptist church in Halifax, Nova Scotia that was established by Black Refugees in 1832. When the chapel was completed, Black citizens of Halifax were reported to be proud of this accomplishment because it was evidence that former enslaved people could establish their own institutions in Nova Scotia. [90] Under the direction of Richard Preston, the church laid the foundation for social action to address the plight of Black Nova Scotians. [91]

Preston and others went on to establish a network of socially active Black baptist churches throughout Nova Scotia, with the Halifax church being referred to as the "Mother Church." [90] Five of these churches were established in Halifax: Preston (1842), Beechville (1844), Hammonds Plains (1845), and another in Africville (1849) and Dartmouth. [92] From meetings held at the church, they also established the African Friendly Society, the African Abolition Society, and the African United Baptist Association.

The church remained the centre of social activism throughout the 20th Century. Reverends at the church included William A. White (1919–1936) and William Pearly Oliver (1937–1962).

American Civil War Edit

Numerous Black Nova Scotians fought in the American Civil War in the effort to end slavery. Perhaps the most well known Nova Scotians to fight in the war effort are Joseph B. Noil and Benjamin Jackson. Three Black Nova Scotians served in the famous 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry: Hammel Gilyer, Samuel Hazzard, and Thomas Page. [93]

20th century Edit

Coloured Hockey League Edit

In 1894, an all-Black ice hockey league, known as the Coloured Hockey League, was founded in Nova Scotia. [94] Black players from Canada's Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island) participated in competition. The league began to play 23 years before the National Hockey League was founded, and as such, it has been credited with some innovations which exist in the NHL today. [95] Most notably, it is claimed that the first player to use the slapshot was Eddie Martin of the Halifax Eurekas, more than 100 years ago. [96] The league remained in operation until 1930.

World War One Edit

The No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was the only predominantly Black battalion in Canadian military history and also the only Canadian Battalion composed of Black soldiers to serve in World War I. The battalion was raised in Nova Scotia and 56% of battalion members (500 soldiers) came from the province. Reverend William A. White of the Battalion became the first Black officer in the British Empire.

An earlier black military unit in Nova Scotia was the Victoria Rifles.

Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People Edit

Led by minister William Pearly Oliver, the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People was formed in 1945 out of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church. The organization was intent of improving the standard of living for Black Nova Scotians. The organization also attempted to improve Black-white relations in co-operation with private and governmental agencies. The organization was joined by 500 Black Nova Scotians. [97] By 1956, the NSAACP had branches in Halifax, Cobequid Road, Digby, Wegymouth Falls, Beechville, Inglewooe, Hammonds Plains and Yarmouth. Preston and Africville branches were added in 1962, the same year New Road, Cherrybrook, and Preston East requested branches. [98] In 1947, the Association successfully took the case of Viola Desmond to the Supreme Court of Canada. [99] It also pressured the Children's Hospital in Halifax to allow for Black women to become nurses it advocated for inclusion and challenged racist curriculum in the Department of Education. The Association also developed an Adult Education program with the government department.

By 1970, over one-third of the 270 members were white. [98]

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Edit

Along with Oliver and the direct involvement of the premier of Nova Scotia Robert Stanfield, many Black activists were responsible for the establishment of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (1967). [100] Originally the mandate of the commission was primarily to address the plight of Black Nova Scotians. The first employee and administrative officer of the commission was Gordon Earle.

Black United Front Edit

In keeping with the times, Reverend William Oliver began the Black United Front in 1969, which explicitly adopted a Black separatist agenda. [101] The Black separatist movement of the United States had a significant influence on the mobilization of the Black community in 20th Century Nova Scotia. This Black separatist approach to address racism and black empowerment was introduced to Nova Scotia by Marcus Garvey in the 1920s. [102] Garvey argued that Black people would never get a fair deal in white society, so they ought to form separate republics or return to Africa. White people are considered a homogenous group who are essentially racist and, in that sense, are considered unredeemable in efforts to address racism.

Garvey visited Nova Scotia twice, first in the 1920s, which led to a Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) office in Cape Breton, and then the famous 1937 visit. [103] He was initially drawn by the founding of an African Orthodox Church in Sydney in 1921 and maintained contact with the ex-pat West Indian community. The UNIA invited him to visit in 1937. [102] (Garvey presided over UNIA regional conferences and conventions in Toronto, in 1936, 1937, and 1938. At the 1937 meeting he inaugurated his School of African Philosophy.)

Despite objections from Martin Luther King Jr., this separatist politics was reinforced again in the 1960s by the Black Power Movement and especially its militant subgroup the Black Panther Party. [104] [105] Francis Beaufils (a.k.a. Ronald Hill) was a fugitive Black Panther facing charges in the U.S. who had found refuge in rural Nova Scotia. [105] The separatist movement influenced the development of the Halifax-based Black United Front (BUF). Black United Front was a Black nationalist organization that included Burnley "Rocky" Jones and was loosely based on the 10 point program of the Black Panther Party. In 1968, Stokely Carmichael, who coined the phrase Black Power!, visited Nova Scotia helping organize the BUF. [106] [107]

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia Edit

Reverend William Oliver eventually left the BUF and became instrumental in establishing the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, which opened in 1983. The organization houses a museum, library and archival area. Oliver designed the Black Cultural Centre to help all Nova Scotians become aware of how Black culture is woven into the heritage of the province. The centre also helps Nova Scotians trace their history of championing human rights and overcoming racism in the province. For his efforts in establishing the four leading organizations in the 20th century to support Black Nova Scotians and, ultimately, all Nova Scotians, William Oliver was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984.

Migration out of Nova Scotia Edit

Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, African Nova Scotians began leaving their settlements in order to find work in larger cities and towns such as Halifax, Sydney, Truro and New Glasgow. Many left Nova Scotia for cities such as Toronto and Montreal, while others left Canada altogether for the United States. [108] [109]

Bangor, Maine's lumber industry attracted Black people from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for decades. They formed a sizeable community on the town's west end throughout the early-1900s. [110] A small African Nova Scotian community had also developed in Sudbury in the late 1940s due to aggressive recruitment efforts in Black Nova Scotian settlements by Vale Inco. [111]

By the 1960s a Black Nova Scotian neighbourhood had developed in Toronto, around the Kensington Market/Alexandra Park area. First Baptist Church, the oldest Black institution in Toronto, became the spiritual centre of this community. [112] In 1972, Alexandra Park is said to have had a Black Nova Scotian population of over 2,000 - making it more populous than any of the Black settlements in Nova Scotia at the time. Escaping rural communities with little education or skills, young Black Nova Scotians in Toronto faced high poverty and unemployment rates. [113]

In 1977, between 1,200 and 2,400 Black Nova Scotians lived in Montreal. Though dispersed throughout the city, many settled among African-Americans and English-speaking West Indians in Little Burgundy. [114] [115]

Dwayne Johnson, Arlene Duncan, Tommy Kane, and Wayne Simmonds are examples of prominent individuals who have at least one Black Nova Scotian parent that settled outside the province.

21st century Edit

Organizations Edit

Several organizations have been created by Black Nova Scotians to serve the community. Some of these include the Black Educators Association of Nova Scotia, African Nova Scotian Music Association, Health Association of African Canadians and the Black Business Initiative. Individuals involved in these and other organizations worked together with various officials to orchestrate the government apologies and pardons for past incidents of racial discrimination.

Africville Apology Edit

The Africville Apology was delivered on February 24, 2010, by Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the eviction and eventual destruction of Africville, a Black Nova Scotian community.

Viola Desmond pardon Edit

On April 14, 2010, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Mayann Francis, on the advice of her premier, invoked the Royal Prerogative and granted Viola Desmond a posthumous free pardon, the first such to be granted in Canada. [116] The free pardon, an extraordinary remedy granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy only in the rarest of circumstances and the first one granted posthumously, differs from a simple pardon in that it is based on innocence and recognizes that a conviction was in error. The government of Nova Scotia also apologised. This initiative happened through Desmond's younger sister Wanda Robson, and a professor of Cape Breton University, Graham Reynolds, working with the Government of Nova Scotia to ensure that Desmond's name was cleared and the government admitted its error.

In honour of Desmond, the provincial government has named the first Nova Scotia Heritage Day after her.

Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children apology Edit

Children in an orphanage that opened in 1921, the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse by staff over a 50-year period. Ray Wagner is the lead counsel for the former residents who successfully made a case against the orphanage. [117] In 2014, the Premier of Nova Scotia Stephen McNeil wrote a letter of apology and about 300 claimants are to receive monetary compensation for their damages. [118]

Immigration Edit

Since the immigration reforms of the 1970s, a growing number of people of African descent have moved to Nova Scotia. Members of these groups are often not considered a part of the distinct Black Nova Scotian community, although they may be perceived as such by wider society.

Top 5 immigrant ethnic origins for people of African descent in Nova Scotia: [2]

Country of origin Population 2016
Jamaica 480
Nigeria 350
Bahamas 230
Ethiopia 185
Ghana 185

Black Nova Scotians were initially established in rural settings, which usually functioned independently until the 1960s. Black Nova Scotians in urban areas today still trace their roots to these rural settlements. Some of the settlements include: Gibson Woods, Greenville, Weymouth Falls, Birchtown, East Preston, Cherrybrook, Lincolnville, Upper Big Tracadie, Five Mile Plains, North Preston, Tracadie, Shelburne, Lucasville, Beechville, and Hammonds Plains among others. Some have roots in other Black settlements located in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island including Elm Hill, New Brunswick, Willow Grove (Saint John, NB) and The Bog (Charlottetown, PEI).

Prominent Black neighbourhoods exist in most towns and cities in Nova Scotia including Halifax, Truro, New Glasgow, Sydney, Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth. Black neighbourhoods in Halifax include Uniacke Square and Mulgrave Park. The ethnically diverse Whitney Pier neighborhood of Sydney has a significant Black population, first drawn there by the opening of the Dominion Iron and Steel Company steel mill in the early 20th century.

Movers and Shapers

Archaeologists still have many questions about the Indian Ocean exchange network. Tracing the movement of goods from place to place is relatively easy. With pottery, for example, members of a single community tend to repeat the same decorative styles over time. Stone, clay and other raw materials, used to produce objects ranging from anchors to gold bullion, have unique chemical signatures that vary by geographic location and can be traced back to their source.

Figuring out how the goods were moved is a little harder. Ships are rare finds, and inland caravans even rarer. One thing scholars know for certain is that the very nature of the ocean trade made prolonged periods of interaction necessary: The currents of the Indian Ocean change seasonally, and traders had to wait for months until currents shifted in favor of the return voyage. For many seafarers, these foreign ports became a second home.

However, outside of the ports mentioned in a handful of ancient texts, it’s unclear just how merchants, and their goods, traveled inland.

Kefilwe Rammutloa, a graduate student at the University of Pretoria, is building a database to trace the distribution of exotic goods at sites across southeastern Africa. She’s finding evidence that suggests members of indigenous communities exchanged these items, often as gifts, rather than professional merchants establishing trade between towns.

Like Wood, Rammutloa has uncovered a social aspect to the items. Mapungubwe, for example, the first indigenous kingdom of southern Africa, was rich in ivory and gold — but bodies found in its cemeteries were interred with glass beads from Persia and porcelain from China.

“People used the materials to create relationships,” says Rammutloa. “We’re talking about humans here. Someone gives you a gift, they’re negotiating a role in your life. It creates a network."

Indian Ocean trade never truly disappeared. Beginning in the 15th century, however, with the expansion of European exploration and China’s withdrawal from international affairs, the world’s economic focus shifted westward.

In the centuries that followed, few researchers studied this early and extensive trade network. Says Wood: “It’s the European background of the people writing the histories, including our own. There’s more work being done now, but part of the problem is that we depend on written documents, and there are a lot less [for the Indian Ocean trade network]. It’s also a question of language. I’m sure there are a wealth of documents on it hidden away in China, but someone’s got to translate them.”

Other forces, from unstable governments to international sanctions, have also stymied research in the past.

“The political past of South Africa has left a huge gap,” says Rammutloa. “It’s only now, after apartheid, that we’re able to get involved in international projects.”

Over the past decade, dozens of regional research programs have developed in coastal Africa, and connected with peers in Europe and Asia, in a way re-creating the trade routes they study. Only now they’re exchanging information rather than goods.

Slave trade and Africa

L'Afrique centrale atlantique / Ahmadou Séhou & others. - Nantes : Les Anneaux de la Mémoire, 2012. - (Cahiers des anneaux de la mémoire, ISSN 1280-4215 no. 14)

Metaphor and the slave trade in West African literature / Laura T. Murphy. - Athens, OH : Ohio University Press, 2012. - (Western African studies)

The rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in western Africa, 1300-1589 / Toby Green. - New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012. - (African studies series, ISSN 0065-406X 118)

Slavery in Africa : archaeology and memory / Paul J. Lane & Kevin C. Macdonald. - Oxford [etc.] : Oxford University Press published for the British Academy, 2011. - (Proceedings of the British Academy, ISSN 0068-1202 168)

The Fante and the transatlantic slave trade / Rebecca Shumway. - Rochester, NY : University of Rochester Press, 2011. - (Rochester studies in African history and the diaspora, ISSN 1092-5228 52)

Africanists and Africans of the Maghrib : casualties of analogy / Mohamed Hassan Mohamed
In: The Journal of North African Studies: (2010), vol. 15, no. 3, p. 349-374.

La traite négrière atlantique et ses conséquences / Auguste René Gambou
In: Histoire générale du Congo des origines à nos jours. 2: Le Congo moderne / sous la dir. de Théophile Obenga. - Paris : L'Harmattan: (cop. 2010), p. 43-60.

Les traites et les esclavages : perspectives historiques et contemporaines / Myriam Cottias, Elisabeth Cunin, & António de Almeida Mendes (ed.). - Paris [etc.] : Karthala [etc.], 2010. - (Esclavages)

The life and letters of Philip Quaque : the first African Anglican missionary / Philip Quaque, Vincent Carretta, & Ty Michael Reese (ed.). - Athens [etc.] : University of Georgia Press, 2010. - (Race in the Atlantic world, 1700-1900)

The trans-Atlantic slave trade database and African economic history / Paul E. Lovejoy & José C. Curto (ed.). - Madison, WI : University of Wisconsin, 2010. - (African economic history, ISSN 0145-2258 vol. 38)

Transatlantischer Sklavenhandel und Sklaverei in Westafrika / Andreas Eckert
In: Afrika 1500-1900 : Geschichte und Gesellschaft / Andreas Eckert, Ingeborg Grau, Arno Sonderegger (Hg. ). - Wien : Promedia: (2010), p. 72-88.

Western Africa and Cabo Verde, 1790s-1830s : symbiosis of slave and legitimate trades / George E. Brooks. - Bloomington, IN : Authorhouse, 2010

Back to Africa : a Liberian tragedy / M. Teah Wulah. - Bloomington, IN : AuthorHouse, 2009

Esclaves : roman / Kangni Alem. - Paris : JC Lattès, 2009

Osopo's first adventure with the anti-slave trade guerrilla group / Safohen Kojo Blankson. - Accra-North : Sam-Woode, 2009. - (The adventures of Osopo 1)

Osopo's second adventure with the anti-slave trade guerrilla group / Safohen Kojo Blankson. - Accra-North : Sam-Woode, 2009. - (The adventures of Osopo 2)

Slavery and its transformation in the kingdom of Kongo: 1491-1800 / Linda M. Heywood
In: The Journal of African History: (2009), vol. 50, no. 1, p. 1-22.

The adventures of Osopo / Safohen Kojo Blankson. - Accra-North : Sam-Woode, 2009

The history of sovereigns in Madagascar: new light from old sources / Stephen Ellis
In: Madagascar revisitée : en voyage avec Françoise Raison-Jourde / sous la dir.de Didier Nativel et Faranirina V.Rajaonah.- Paris : Karthala: (2009), p.405-431 : krt.

Africa and trans-Atlantic memories : literary and aesthetic manifestations of diaspora and history / Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Paul E. Lovejoy, & David V. Trotman (ed.). - Trenton, NJ [etc.] : Africa World Press, 2008. - ([The Harriet Tubman series on African diaspora])

The organization of the Atlantic slave trade in Yorubaland, ca. 1777 to ca. 1856 / Olatunji Ojo
In: The International Journal of African Historical Studies: (2008), vol. 41, no. 1, p. 77-100.

The trans-Saharan slave trade of Ottoman Tunisia, 1574 to 1782 / Ismael Muasah Montana
In: The Maghreb Review: (2008), vol. 33, no. 2/3, p. 132-150 : krt.

African voices of the Atlantic slave trade : beyond the silence and the shame / Anne Caroline Bailey. - Kingston [etc.] : Randle, 2007

Early slavery at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1717 / Karel Schoeman. - Pretoria : Protea Bookhuis, 2007

Slavery and the birth of an African city : Lagos, 1760-1900 / Kristin Mann. - Bloomington, IND : Indiana University Press, 2007

Sudanese trade in black ivory : opening old wounds / Abdel Ghaffar Ahmed. - Cape Town : CASAS, 2007. - (Occasional paper, ISSN 1560-3385 no. 31)

A double-edged sword : slavery in Ghana / Akosua Perbi. - Leiden : Afrika Studiecentrum, 2006

De l'Afrique à l'Extrême-Orient / Behnaz A. Mirzai & others. - Nantes : Les anneaux de la mémoire, 2006. - (Cahiers des anneaux de la mémoire, ISSN 1280-4215 9)

Islam's black slaves / Ronald Segal. - Leiden : Afrika Studiecentrum, 2006

Literature list on slave trade (available in ASC library) / Afrika-Studiecentrum Leiden. - Leiden : Afrika Studiecentrum, 2006

Slave trade with Madagascar : the journals of the Cape slaver Leijdsman, 1715 = Slawehandel met Madagaskar : die joernale van die Kaapse slaweskip Leijdsman, 1715 / Piet Westra & James C. Amstrong (ed.). - Kaapstad : Africana Uitgewers, 2006

The African slave trade to Asia and the Indian Ocean Islands / Robert O. Collins
In: African and Asian Studies: (2006), vol. 5, no. 3/4, p. 325-346 : krt. , tab.

The Amazing Grace / Jeta Amata, Nick Morgan, & others. - [S.l. : s.n.], 2006. - 1 dvd-video (100 min.). : kleur, gel.

The invitation / Kwakuvi Azasu. - Accra : Ghana University Press, 2006

A symbol of power : Christiansborg Castle in Ghanaian history / Per Hernæs
In: Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana: (2005), n. s. , no. 9, p. 141-156.

Ambaca society and the slave trade c. 1760-1845 / Jan Vansina
In: The Journal of African History: (2005), vol. 46, no. 1, p. 1-27 : krt.

L'or et les esclaves : histoire des forts du Ghana du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle / Jean Michel Deveau. - Paris : Karthala, 2005. - (Mémoire des peuples. La route de l'esclave)

Pirates, slavers, and the indigenous population in Madagascar, c. 1690-1715 / Arne Bialuschewski
In: The International Journal of African Historical Studies: (2005), vol. 38, no. 3, p. 401-425 : krt.

Reflections on Arab-led slavery of Africans / Kwesi Kwaa Prah (ed.). - Cape Town : The Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society, 2005. - (CASAS book series no. 35)

Slave routes and oral tradition in Southeastern Africa / Benigna Zimba, Edward Alpers, & Allen Isaacman (ed.). - Maputo : Filsom Entertainment, 2005

The trade in slaves in Ovamboland, ca. 1850-1910 / Kalle Gustafsson
In: African Economic History: (2005), no. 33, p. 31-68.

'This horrid hole': royal authority, commerce and credit at Bonny, 1690-1840 / Paul E. Lovejoy & David Richardson
In: The Journal of African History: (2004), vol. 45, no. 3, p. 363-392 : tab.

Asen Praso in history and memory / Susan Benson & T. C. MacCaskie
In: Ghana Studies: (2004), vol. 7, p. 93-113.

Climat et histoire en Afrique centrale aux XVIIIe-XIXe siècles : l'expansion Baare-Tchamba de la Haute-Bénoué (Cameroun). Vol. 1 / Eldridge Mohammadou / Yoshihito Shimada & Djingui Mahmoudou (ed.). - Nagoya : Comparative Studies in Social and Human Sciences, Nagoya University, 2004. - (African kingdoms collection 2)

Historical archaeology of Bagamoyo : excavations at the caravan-serai / Felix Chami, Eliwasa Maro & others. - Dar es Salaam : Dar es Salaam University, 2004

Slavery on the frontiers of Islam / Paul E. Lovejoy (ed.). - Princeton, NY : Markus Wiener Publishers, 2004

Traites et esclavages / Elikia M'bokolo
In: L'Afrique : les Rendez-vouz de l'Histoire, Blois 2003 / textes de Adama Ba Konaré . . . [et al]. - Nantes : Éditions Pleins Feux: (cop. 2004), p. 41-80.

This was historically the territory of Algonquian-speaking peoples, especially the Potapoco and the more dominant Piscataway. Settled by the English in the 17th century and established in 1727, the town on the Port Tobacco River soon became the second largest in Maryland. The first county seat of Charles County, it was a seaport with access to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. It declined rapidly after river traffic was cut off by silting and the town was bypassed by the railroad. The town incorporated in 1888, but in 1895 the county seat moved to nearby La Plata, which drew population away but left the town with its historic significance intact. [7] [8] [9]

Since the late 20th century, the former 1819 courthouse has been renovated for use as a historical museum. In 2007 a consortium started the Port Tobacco Archeology Project, devoted to revealing the history of Native Americans and colonial Europeans and Africans. Because of its unique history, the area is "one of the richest archeological sites in Southern Maryland." [10]

A few miles south, the St. Ignatius Church, manor house, and cemetery at St. Thomas Manor comprise a complex designated as a National Historic Landmark. It is notable as a Jesuit mission center established in the 17th century and is likely the oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish founded in the Thirteen Colonies. The complex at Chapel Point has scenic views overlooking the Potomac River. John Hanson, President of the U.S. Continental Congress, was born nearby. [11]

History Edit

Areas along the waterways of present-day Maryland were inhabited for thousands of years by various cultures of distinct indigenous peoples. At the time of European exploration, this coastal area along the Port Tobacco River was the territory of the Potapoco, an Algonquian-speaking tribe. They called their settlement Potapoco. Overall, the dominant tribe on the north side of the Potomac River was the Algonquian Piscataway tribe, which later absorbed some of the smaller tribes' survivors. [12] [13]

Colonial era Edit

Within a generation of the first Maryland settlers' landing at St. Clement's Island, they pushed the frontiers of the colony north and west toward the Potomac and Port Tobacco rivers. The English developed a small village about 1634 on the east side of the Port Tobacco tributary. It became the nucleus for trade and government. It was first called Chandlers Town. The town was one of the oldest English-speaking communities on the East Coast of the United States. In 1658, it was designated the first county seat of Charles County.

Later the English adapted the Potapoco name as Port Tobacco. Its name also referred to what became the colony's chief export commodity crop. The town grew as it became a major port for the tobacco trade, with exports transported by ocean-going sailing ships. During the late 17th century, Port Tobacco became the second-largest river port in Maryland.

The early immigrants to Port Tobacco were products of the religious turmoil in England. Their deeply felt convictions were powerful influences in Maryland's history. The area had both English Catholic and Church of England congregations. Father Andrew White of the Jesuits established a mission in 1641 and later a church at what became St. Thomas Manor at Chapel Point. The manor's chapel was expanded to what is called St. Ignatius Church, a center for local Native Americans converted to Christianity. The oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in the United States, the complex has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is part of the Religious Freedom Maryland Scenic Byways route. [14] Catholic parish records identified Indian families through the decades, when civil records began to use only designations of free people of color, colored, or Negro for mixed-race persons, thus failing to record their cultural identification. The two state-recognized Piscataway-descendant tribes have used Catholic records in making their case for cultural continuity.

Freed from restraints by the Toleration Act of 1649 and feeling a need for spiritual guidance, some settlers gathered their first Anglican congregation in a log building at the head of the Port Tobacco Creek in 1683, nine years before the Establishment Act. [15] Supported by the tobacco poll tax of 40 pounds per head from 1692 to 1776, Christ Church prospered. The community built a second structure in 1709. After the American Revolution, although the Anglican Church was disestablished in the US, parishioners rallied to contribute directly to Christ Church, and Lemuel Wilmer, of a distinguished family of Maryland Episcopalian clerics which included his brother William Holland Wilmer, uncle James Jones Wilmer, and father, grandfather and brother (all named Simon Wilmer) served as rector for 35 years. After a tornado destroyed the building in 1808, they held a lottery and ultimately financed a new brick structure, which was rededicated in 1827. Falling into disrepair after 60 years of use, it was demolished and replaced with a sandstone edifice in 1884. However, only the graveyard now remains of this church (and a relatively recently outline of the historic church's foundation), since it was disassembled in 1904 and reassembled in La Plata, which had become the county seat in 1895. [16]

For two centuries, Port Tobacco area residents assumed important roles in state and national history. John Hanson was elected first President by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation before moving to Frederick. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was a signer of the United States Constitution and Thomas Stone was one of four of the Maryland delegation who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Civil War Edit

During the Civil War, Port Tobacco became known as a stronghold of Confederate sympathizers, although Union troops occupied the town. Rose O'Neal Greenhow (1814-1864), born here, became renowned as a Confederate spy operating in Washington, DC. Recruited by former US Army captain Thomas Jordan, later promoted to Confederate general, she took over his network in early 1861. [17] Due to military plans she passed to the Confederates that summer, she was credited with ensuring their victory at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. [18] Local slaves were freed following Maryland's adoption of a new Constitution on November 1, 1864 (the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not apply to states which remained in the Union). During the hunt for John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, intelligence gathered in a Port Tobacco hotel (conspirator George Atzerodt lived in town) established the assassin had fled with his companion Herold into Virginia, where they were ultimately located and Herold surrendered, but Booth died during the attempted capture.

Decline Edit

Port Tobacco started declining as erosion from excessive agricultural use and poor soil conservation caused significant siltation at the head of the Port Tobacco River, decreasing its navigability and ultimately cutting off the town from access to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Larger merchant vessels were unable to use the former seaport as a result, commercial activity at the port had dwindled by the time of the Civil War. [19]

The decline was exacerbated by the completion in 1873 of a nearby Baltimore and Potomac Railroad line to Pope's Creek which bypassed Port Tobacco and ran further south to another port directly on the Potomac River. [20] A small portion of the town's square incorporated in 1888 as Port Tobacco Village, [8] [9] a move that may have signaled an effort by the community to reverse its decline, but new communities eventually sprang up along the railway and prospered, including the town of La Plata which succeeded Port Tobacco as the county seat in 1895.

The remains today are identified as Port Tobacco Village. Because of the town's abrupt decline and silting of the river, many archeological sites were preserved, making it one of the richest areas for studying the mixed history of Native and colonial cultures, including that of enslaved Africans. [10] In 2007 the Port Tobacco Archeological Project began as a partnership among the Archaeological Society of Maryland, the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium, Preservation Maryland, and Preserve America. [21] It has encouraged participation by the community, with an Internet blog and regular chances for volunteer participation at many levels.

Visitors may see the reconstructed Port Tobacco Courthouse, furnished as it may have appeared in the 19th century, even as of the day of Booth's escape. The North wing has exhibits on tobacco culture, as well as archaeological finds which reveal early colonial and Native American life.

Other notable nearby historic sites include:

  • Several 18th-century homes on the National Register of Historic Places, including Rose Hill, Ellerslie, Linden, Retreat, Stagg Hall, and Catslide House. [22]
  • The restored one-room schoolhouse, used from 1876 to 1953 , the plantation home of one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. and Cemetery at Chapel Point is the oldest continuously operating Catholic parish among the Thirteen Colonies exhibits provide insight into early Catholic history and Jesuit missionary activity in the colony, as well as Native American history.
  • Mulberry Grove, birthplace of John Hanson

Legend of the Blue Dog Edit

Halloween reminds local residents of Charles County's "Blue Dog" legend, which is taught in local schools and has been told in the county for more than 100 years. By most accounts, the spirit of a large blue dog protects the treasure of his murdered master, which is supposed to be buried somewhere along Rose Hill Road outside Port Tobacco.

Charles Stuart was the owner of the Rose Hill property containing the fabled rock where Blue Dog and his master were killed. [23] He has said that the first written account of the Blue Dog legend dates back to 1897, [24] when Olivia Floyd, a noted Confederate spy and owner of Rose Hill, told the Port Tobacco Times that she had seen the ghost of the Blue Dog. [24]

The legend says that Charles Thomas Sims, a soldier, and his dog were killed on February 8 in the 18th century on Rose Hill Road while returning from a Port Tobacco tavern. This was following the American Revolutionary War. [25] Henry Hanos of Port Tobacco purportedly killed Sims and his dog for Sims' gold and a deed to an estate. Hanos buried the gold and deed under a holly tree along Rose Hill Road. When Hanos returned to recover the treasure, he was scared away by the ghost of Blue Dog. Hanos fell ill and died suddenly. To this day, Blue Dog reportedly continues to watch over his slain master's treasure. [25]

The only state highway serving Port Tobacco is Maryland Route 6. MD 6 connects westward to Nanjemoy, while to the east, it links with US 301 in La Plata.

Port Tobacco Village is located in central Charles County near the intersection of Maryland Route 6 and Chapel Point Road, just southwest of the neighboring town of La Plata. It sits near the Port Tobacco River, which joins the Potomac River a short distance south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.16 square miles (0.41 km 2 ), all land. [26]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880202 −6.0%
1890132 −34.7%
199036 −10.0%
200015 −58.3%
201013 −13.3%
2019 (est.)15 [4] 15.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [27]

2010 census Edit

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 13 people, 7 households, and 5 families residing in the town. The population density was 81.3 inhabitants per square mile (31.4/km 2 ). There were 7 housing units at an average density of 43.8 per square mile (16.9/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the town was 84.6% White, 7.7% African American, and 7.7% from two or more races (each 7.7% of people included one person).

There were 7 households, of which 14.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.4% were married couples living together, and 28.6% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.86 and the average family size was 2.20.

The median age in the town was 64.5 years. 7.7% of residents were under the age of 18 15.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24 0.0% were from 25 to 44 30.8% were from 45 to 64 and 46.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 46.2% male and 53.8% female.

2000 census Edit

As of the census [28] of 2000, there were 15 people, 5 households, and 5 families residing in the town. The population density was 94.0 people per square mile (36.2/km 2 ). There were 6 housing units at an average density of 37.6 per square mile (14.5/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the town was 60.00% White, 26.67% Black or African American, 6.67% Asian, and 6.67% from two or more races.

There were 5 households, out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 60.0% had a female householder with no husband present. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 20.0% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $100,992, and the median income for a family was $102,264. The per capita income for the town was $43,017. There were no families below the poverty line.

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