Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Sons of Providence, by Charles Rappleye


SONS OF PROVIDENCE, The Brown Brothers,  The Slave Trade, and The American Revolution 
Charles Rappleye,
Simon and Schuster
Hardcover, 416 pages

John and Moses Brown, two incongruous brothers were loyal to Britain. Yet, when a series of revenue raising taxes descended on the colonies, the Browns saw it as economic servitude to England. Charles Rappleye presents a history of Rhode Island and the Slave Trade through his research of primary documents and through letters of correspondence between the Brown brothers. Most people would be surprised to read about the significance of the Browns, and the relationship Newport and Providence and all Rhode Island had in the slave trade.

John and Moses Brown were originally were collaborators in the slave trade, but their legacies would diverge and history would remember their roles differently. Where John was an avid proponent of slavery and compulsive capitalist. Moses turned Quaker and was equally an unshakable abolitionist and social reformer. They polar opposites in values and appearance and they were stubborn in their ideals of liberty.

The Gaspee incident in Narragansett Bay, was a significant event led by John Brown that would establish Rhode Island equal to Boston as a rebellious colony. Also, throughout New England, slavery was most widespread in Rhode Island and the slave trade would remain entrenched in their harbors for many years.

John and Moses Brown were prominent business leaders in many areas. John was an investor in real estate, Moses was credited with establishing one of America’s first banks and introducing textile technology that allowed New England to compete with England as the Industrial Revolution moved forward. They both collaborated to establish Brown University where it is today.

Rhode Island is a familiar setting to me and this history provided a valuable addition to my existing schema. Charles Rappleye humanizes this history lesson from two opposing viewpoints and the insight of first hand witnesses. Sons of Providence clarifies many misconceptions in history and furnishes a glimpse into the tenets of the time period. Highly recommended.

 Disclosure: This book was a self-purchase.


George Washington Book Prize 2007

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2013].

 Wisteria Leigh February 14, 2013

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