Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Slave Wall - Medford, Mass.

The Slave Wall
Grove St.
Medford, Mass.

This brick wall on Grove St., Medford was purportedly built by a slave named Pomp in 1765. At that time Pomp was owned by Thomas Brooks and the wall that he built was part of the outer entrance to the home and estate of the Brooks family. The original home no longer exists. The public park behind the wall was land donated in 1924 by the Brooks family.

The Brooks were a prominent family in Medford from its early days and at one time owned 400+ acres in the town. A portion of the Brooks estate and a late 19th century Queen Anne style summer home can be found a short distance away at 275 Grove St. The estate is managed by the Medford-Brooks Estate land trust and is open to the public.

The Brooks family wasn't the only wealthy family in the town to own slaves. The Royall family, transplanted from Antigua, owned 27 slaves and had an estate of almost 600 acres. Their colonial mansion with its separate slave quarters still survives.

Many others in Medford were involved in the actual slave trade itself. Medford was a part of the "Triangle Trade" which consisted of bringing Rum to Africa to trade for slaves, who were then brought to the West Indies to be sold. A portion of the proceeds was then used to buy sugar and molasses, which when brought back to Medford was used to produce Rum. (Medford became known throughout the world for its high quality Rum. Rum continued to be produced in Medford until 1905 when the last factory shut its doors).

Slavery was finally abolished in Massachusetts in 1783 making Massachusetts the first state to abolish slavery.

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