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Northern Profits from Slavery

Many students think of slavery as only a southern phenomenon, but in fact slavery was integrated into the economies of all the colonies (and later, states). Enslaved people worked in northern as well as southern colonies, in agricultural as well as domestic and urban settings. Many grew and processed crops that were bought and used by all levels of colonial society and sold for export. And before the United States ended the importation of slaves in 1808, the slave trade provided a particular boon for the Northeast. Free and enslaved Americans built ships, provided naval supplies, and made products that were traded for enslaved people in Africa. Insurance agents and financiers backed slavers' journeys. The slave trade was part of a triangular trade route that was profitable for many Americans, north and south. Learn more in this article.

Primary Source of the Month

Plan and Sections of a Slave Ship
Plan and Sections of a Slave Ship
Carl Bernhard Wadstrom "An Essay..." 1794
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Captives from Africa were transported in ships, such as the ones in the diagram. Anyone working or living at or around a seaport anywhere in the colonies was exposed to slavers coming into port with cargoes of enslaved Africans for sale. Enslaved people were taken from the boats and sold for auction on public streets. For most of the eighteenth century, this took place in both the northern and southern colonies. But people who had never bought or owned a slave profited from this steady stream of incoming captive Africans as well.

The Slave Trade EFT
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is The Slave Trade
February 14, 2013

Schools registered for The Slave Trade: Join us in testing a video stream suitable for iPads and iPhones! Log into the Watch Video Live page for information.

Teacher Community

Teaching News

Pinterest for Education

Are you on Pinterest, the popular visual-bookmarking and sharing site? Pinterest allows you to "pin" images and webpages to a virtual “board,” which can be private, shared with friends, or viewable by the public. Many people use it for event planning, craft ideas, recipes, and hobbies, but it’s a great tool to share teaching ideas! Search the site to see what others have pinned. Follow users or boards you find most helpful. Create boards of your own to collect lesson ideas and activity instructions—for yourself or to share with other teachers, whether in your school or across the country. This post from the Technology Enhanced Learning Blog contains a variety of examples of how Pinterest can be useful for teachers, and links to videos and infographics explaining this growing trend.


February Podcasts
02/04: Faux Food
02/11: Meet the Bookbinder
02/18: President's Day with the Washingtons
02/25: Changing Keys Exhibit
February vodcast: Steadfast Spirits—African American women in the Revolutionary City

The Idea of America
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.

**Learn more in America: The Pocket Guide, a quick yet comprehensive look at our revolutionary framework for understanding and teaching American history.**

Colonial Williamsburg CONNECT

Join us March 1 at noon Eastern for a live webcast! In American Ideals: Steadfast Spirits, eighteenth-century woman Lydia Broadnax discusses with modern historians her rise from slave to business owner and how African American women have gained rights over the centuries. Chat with us and join the discussion. #connectcw

Teaching Strategy: The Slave Trade in the Colonial Economy

In the eighteenth century, just like today, the ocean was crowded with ships transporting goods from one continent to another. While some carried sugar, rum, guns, and an array of other trade goods, others carried human cargo from Africa. While it is well known that white Americans in the southern colonies (and later, states) enjoyed great economic benefits from slavery, it is less well known that even in the northern colonies where there were far fewer slaves, white Americans still benefited from this inhumane system. In this lesson, students will explore these connections between slavery and products across the colonies.

Colonial Williamsburg Teaching Resources for Your Classroom

2012–2013 Teaching Resources Catalog

Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality American history instructional materials, including:

  • Slave's Bag Hands-on History Kit
  • Caeser's Story Book, Gr. 4–6
  • No Master Over Me DVD

Check out our specials, including 50% off lesson units!

Kids Zone: History, Games & Fun

Quotation of the Month

"WEDNESDAY AUGUST 22. IN CONVENTION. Art VII sect 4. [1, 2] resumed. Mr. SHERMAN was for leaving the clause as it stands. He disapproved of the slave trade; yet as the States were now possessed of the right to import slaves, as the public good did not require it to be taken from them, & as it was expedient to have as few objections as possible to the proposed scheme of Government, he thought it best to leave the matter as we find it. He observed that the abolition of Slavery seemed to be going on in the U. S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat it. He urged on the Convention the necessity of despatching its business. "

—James Madison's notes on the debates in the federal convention of 1787

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Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers

2010 Distance Learning Award
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010

2011 AEP Finalist
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers

The Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trip Series is supported in part
by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.

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