Ten Hills Farm

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The Royall House and Slave Quarters

The Royall House and Slave Quarters, located at 15 George Street in Medford, Ma., is the last remnant of a 600-acre estate first owned by Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop. The buildings and small dog park that make up the site today lie hidden in a busy residential neighborhood at the northern end of what once was a gracious farm that stretched four miles along the banks of the Mystic River. That farm was home to slavery for 150 years.

In the 1630s, war with the Pequot Indians led to the enslavement of scores of Native Americans in Massachusetts and beyond. By 1638, some of those enslaved Native American were shipped south to the Caribbean where they were exchanged for tobacco, salt and African workers "seasoned" by plantation work in the West Indies. Records of this exchange provide the first evidence of black enslavement in New England. Indians were already in bondage by then.

Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, traces the story of this ground from the time of Winthrop’s sailing from the coast of England in 1630 to the present day inaugurations of Governor Deval Patrick and Harvard President Drew Faust. The house and slave quarters, now operated as a National Historic Site by the Royal House Association, is open to the public from late May until November.


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