Saturday, February 01, 2014

Slavery

In September, 2011 our monthly Ocracoke Newsletter related the story of Slavery on Ocracoke.

The article points out that "[a]s on other islands of the Outer Banks and in coastal areas of the mainland, the institution of slavery on Ocracoke Island was somewhat different from slavery on large southern plantations."

David Cecelski writes authoritatively about this theme in his 2001 book The Waterman's Song, Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina. Cecelski's book is divided into two major sections, "Working on the Water" and "The Struggle for Freedom."

In his second section the author writes, "Coastal ports like Bath, Ocracoke, and even New Bern may have outwardly resembled backwater outposts on minor trade routes, but a tour of those harbor districts would have belied any notion of provincialism. There a visitor would have met black sailors from many nations, swapping the latest scuttlebutt from Boston, San Juan, and Port-au-Prince in a half dozen languages.... [B]lack sailors...kept coastal slaves informed about the political climate beyond the South and offered practical details about coastal geography, sea traffic, and sympathetic captains."

David Cecelski's book is an invaluable resource for understanding the complex issue of slavery in coastal North Carolina.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm

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