Connecticut, Slave State
Though free blacks in Fairfield were a small part of the black population, they worked the ships that delivered New England rum to Africa to be traded for their enslaved brethren. Towns like Fairfield grew quite affluent producing goods, barrel staves, foodstuffs and trinkets for the West Indies, where most of the slaves acquired would end up. It is ironic that free blacks working Fairfield’s docks were “perpetuating” African slavery, as was Frederick Douglass who worked the Baltimore shipyards building fast slavers for New England merchants.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Wilmington, North Carolina
Connecticut, Slave State:
"Connecticut conducted another census in 1774. With a population of 4863, Fairfield was the eleventh largest town in Connecticut in 1774. The 4863 persons included 4544 whites and 319 blacks, giving Fairfield the highest percentage of black population in the colony. Fairfield’s growing trade encouraged the growth of its black population. Approximately three out of every four blacks in Fairfield in the 1770’s were slaves. Most of them were men who worked as laborers or household servants; a smaller number of women were household servants; and even a smaller number were children.
Most slaves were denied the pleasure of residing, with or without the benefit of marriage, with a member of the opposite sex. Captain David Judson owned a married couple and their child, but more typical was Hezekiah Gold, who owned four men, “a wench,” a young man, and two boys. Slavery was a luxury that Fairfield came to afford as it became more affluent. Most free blacks in Fairfield worked as laborers, either on the docks or on board ship.”
(Fairfield, The Biography of a Community, Thomas J. Farnham, Fairfield Historical Society, 1988, pp. 71-72)