About the Book
New England proudly names its heroes. But when Barack Obama studied law at Harvard did he know his apartment lay on ground that was home to African slavery for 150 years? Did he know that an early owner of that land gave money from the slave trade to help found Harvard Law School? Was he or any other student aware that the Dean of HLS until recently occupied the Royall Chair of Law, named for the school's benefactor, Isaac Royall, Jr., a wealthy trader of enslaved Africans?
TEN HILLS FARM: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North restores this memory. Telling the powerful saga of five generations of slave owners on a farm in colonial New England, C. S. Manegold digs deep to bring the history of the American slave trade full circle from concealment to recovery. Settled in 1630 by John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Ten Hills Farm, a six-hundred-acre estate just north of Boston (now preserved and operated as the Royall House in Medford, Ma.) passed from the Winthrops to the Ushers, to Isaac Royall, Jr.; each a prominent family tied to the sale and trade of human beings. In this mesmerizing narrative, Manegold exposes how these families’ fortunes and the fate of Ten Hills Farm were bound to America's most tragic and tainted legacy.
Drawing from original documents, letters, shipping records, early American newspapers and more, TEN HILLS FARM takes readers on a sea voyage to the New World in the early seventeenth century, leading us through history up to the early twenty-first century, from New England, through the South, to the sprawling slave plantations of the Caribbean. John Winthrop, famous for envisioning his ‘city upon a hill’ and lauded as a paragon of justice, owned slaves on that ground and passed the first law in North America condoning slavery. Each successive owner of Ten Hills Farm—from John Usher, who was born into money, to Isaac Royall, who began as a humble carpenter’s son and made his fortune in Antigua—would depend upon slavery’s profits until the 1780s, when Massachusetts abolished the practice. Still, the legacy lingers.