BC Bookmarks

Unfreedom in Boston

In his new book, Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston (New York University Press, 2016), BC alumnus Jared Ross Hardesty argues that slavery in Boston was part of a continuum of unfreedom. In this context, African slavery existed alongside many other forms of oppression, including Native American slavery, indentured servitude, apprenticeship, and pauper apprenticeship. Enslaved Bostonians were more concerned with their everyday treatment and honor than with emancipation, as they pushed for autonomy, protected their families and communities, and demanded a place in society. Drawing on exhaustive research in colonial legal records – including wills, court documents, and minutes of governmental bodies – as well as newspapers, church records, and other contemporaneous sources, Hardesty reconstructs an 18th-century Atlantic world of unfreedom that stretched from Europe to Africa to America. Hardesty is on the faculty of Western Washington University.