Jews in the Triangular Trade: Colonial New England
The colonies of New England were crucial to the success of Great Britain's triangular trade. Slaves were purchased in Africa and taken to sugar plantations in the West Indies. Sugar and molasses were then made into rum at more than thirty distilleries in Rhode Island, another sixty-three in Massachusetts. The Secret Relationship paints an almost idyllic picture of Jews living in Rhode Island. Slaves were not unknown in Rhode Island during the seventeenth century, but by statute of May 19, 1652 "no blacke mankind or white being" could be held in servitude for more than ten years. A number of legitimate scholars have tried to analyze the character of Aaron Lopez. Aaron Lopez owned twenty-seven slaves when he took his family to Leicester. Far from showing compassion for his chattels, Lopez instructed his captains to use leg irons and handcuffs on Africans, for they were "less than human" and because this was "their natural habitat.".