Guest Post: Slave Horse: The Narragansett Pacer

Today, The Junto welcomes guest poster Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Assistant Professor of History at Roger Williams University. Her current research focuses on framing dissent, deviance, and crime in early America in a wider Atlantic World context.

Image via Ann Holst and Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, Kingston, Rhode Island

Image via Ann Holst and Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, Kingston, Rhode Island

Once considered a breed of “no beauty,” the Narragansett Pacer moved fast enough for an 18th-century rider to cover 50-60 miles a day of rocky New England ground. As a natural pacer, its backbone moved through the air in a straight line without inclining the rider from side to side. Bred in and named for a southern community of coastal Rhode Island, the story of Narragansett Pacer horse is tightly entwined with the history of the early slave trade. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, these horses were traded for rum, sugar and slaves. Often, the horses were raised by slaves on the plantations of Narragansett, then shipped around the Atlantic World to work on sugar plantations alongside other slaves. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe biggest early-America news in popular culture this week may be the film adaptation of 12 Years a Slave, which will enter wide release in the US on November 1. In an interview with Terry Gross, director Steve McQueen says he wants Solomon Northup’s story to enter public consciousness the way Anne Frank’s diary has. David Blight discussed it with Terry Gross and recommended 12 Years a Slave as “a very good corrective” to ordinary Hollywood treatments of slavery. In the New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed uses the film to discuss some of the opportunities and problems slave narratives present to historians. At Grandland, Wesley Morris describes how the film “presents savagery in civil terms.”

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