A piece of Bristol's late eighteenth and early nineteenth century history which has only recently been researched is its connection to the early sugar plantations of Cuba. A surprisingly large number of early Bristolians either owned or worked on these plantations alongside slaves from the west coast of Africa. As part of the Triangle Trade between Rhode Island, Africa and Cuba, a number of volunteers at the Society have been researching this period of time by using primary source documents available in our paper document room. Two of the volunteers, June Truitt and Claire Benson, have spent countless hours on this project and have prepared presentations on their research.
The George Howe Journal in the Society's collection documents life in the mid-1830's in Bristol, RI, and Cuba. It contains entries on daily living, copies of letters sent, poems, reminiscences, musings on the subjects of hope, human suffrage, death and freedom.
The journal contains a hymn of thanksgiving written while he was becalmed off Block Island while returning from Cuba to his family after fourteen months. He also wrote three pieces to celebrate the Fourth of July. Two of these he tells us to what music they were meant to be sung; the last, and most significant piece is an Abolitionist hymn which was meant to be sung to The Star Spangled Banner. In the most recent presentation with Truitt, these songs were performed by the Bristol County Chorus under the direction of Joan Doyle Roth.