Horses first appeared in New England in 1629, when Francis Higginson shipped approximately 25 mares and stallions from Leicestershire, England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. From this stock, the first horses made their way to Rhode Island less than a decade later. Horses were central to survival in terms of work, travel, communication, and leisure. However, for Rhode Island, horses were also a staple exportation commodity, and by the mid-eighteenth century the colony led the way in shipping horses to the sugar colonies. Horses were often directly traded for rum, sugar, molasses, and slaves. Amongst the diverse breeds that were raised in Rhode Island, the Narragansett Pacer is exceptional in many ways. The Pacer’s easy gait made it suitable for both long-distance travel and racing. The Pacer was the first “truly” American breed of horse, and it was in high demand all around the Atlantic World. However, from such promising beginnings, the Pacer was extinct by the next century. This talk will explore why Rhode Island emerged as a leading breeding centre for horses, and how the rise and fall of the equine exportation industry was tied directly to the sugar markets.
Dr. Charlotte Carrington-Farmer is an Assistant Professor of History, and she specializes in early American History. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall) in 2010. Her dissertation was entitled 'Dissent and Identity in Seventeenth-Century New England', and is now a book project. Dr Carrington-Farmer's research interests center on framing dissent, deviance and crime in early America in a wider Atlantic World context. Dr. Carrington-Farmer is particularly interested in Thomas Morton, who founded the Ma-re Mount settlement (modern-day Quincy, MA), and she has written a biography of Morton for a book entitled Atlantic Biographies: Individuals and Peoples in the Atlantic World (Brill, 2013). Dr. Carrington-Farmer has reviewed a number of books for History: Reviews of New Books. She has also written the following article: 'Slave Horse/War Horse: The Narragansett Pacer in Colonial and Revolutionary Rhode Island’ War Horses of the World Proceedings (SOAS University of London, forthcoming 2014). Her new book project is tentatively titled: Slave Horse: The Narragansett Pacer in the Atlantic World.