|18th Century Newport Colony House, early meeting place of the Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
She would die in childhood.
(Rachel Peckham is my second cousin 8 times removed. Our common ancestors are George Sisson & Sarah F. Lawton.)
18th Century Newport
By 1720, Newport was a leading urban center of the colonies, with a population of 3,800. By 1742 its people numbered 6,200.
Among the religious groups attracted to this haven in a world of threatening intolerance were Quakers and Jews. Together they transformed the town from a small agricultural outpost to one of colonial America's five leading seaports.
The Quakers became the most influential of Newport's numerous early congregations and they dominated the political, social and economic life of the town into the 18th century. Their "plain style" of living was reflected in Newport's architecture, decorative arts and early landscape.
The beginning of the commercial activity which raised Newport to its fame as a rich port was begun by a second wave of Portuguese Jews who settled there about the middle of the 18th century. They had been practicing Judaism in secret for three hundred years in Portugal, liable to torture and murder by the Inquisition if they were caught, and were attracted to Rhode Island because of the freedom of worship there. They brought with them commercial experience and connections, capital and a spirit of enterprise.
Much of the commercial activity was centered on the area called Washington Square, which was once the center of both the commercial and civic life of the colonial city. Upon its completion in 1741, the Old Colony House at the head of Washington Square served as a seat of Rhode Island's government, until the current Rhode Island State House in Providence was completed in 1904 and Providence became the state's sole capital city.
Newport suffered from an imbalance of trade with the largest colonial ports. As a result, Newport merchants were forced to develop alternatives to conventional exports.The Quakers neighborhood on Eastons Point was home to some of the most highly skilled craftsman in colonial America. Throughout the 18th century the famous Goddard and Townsend furniture was made in Newport.
During this time the waterfront bustled with activity with over 150 separate wharves and hundreds of shops crowded along the harbor between Long Wharf and the southern end of the harbor.
Trade and the export of rum, candles, fish, furniture, silver, and other value-added goods were the main engines of economic growth during the 18th century, activities inexorably linked to Newport's participation in the slave trade and widespread ownership of slaves by families throughout the city. During the colonial period, Newport was the center of the slave trade in New England. Newport was active in the “triangle trade,” in which slave-produced sugar and molasses from the Caribbean were carried to Rhode Island and distilled into rum, which was then carried to West Africa and exchanged for captives. Many of the great fortunes made during this period were made in the slave trade. The Common Burial Ground on Farewell Street was where most of the slaves were buried. Sixty percent of slave trading voyages launched from North America – in some years more than 90% – issued from tiny Rhode Island, many from Newport. The Rhode Island slave trade was broadly based. Seven hundred Rhode Islanders owned or captained slave ships, including most substantial merchants, and many ordinary shopkeepers and tradesmen, who purchased shares in slaving voyages.