This month we were grateful to Place Based Boston for asking us to share a reflection on how Jared Hardesty’s recent research findings about a colonial-era smuggling ring, the slave trade, and Old North has impacted our site, how we talk about our history, and how we interact with visitors and the public. Below see an excerpt of this post, written by our Co-Directors of Education, Erin Wederbrook Yuskaitis and Catherine Matthews. Read the full text and learn more about Place Based Boston, a collective of significant historic and cultural sites in Boston that believes that connecting with place provides an integral way to understand history and its current relevance, here.
Merchant. Mariner. Chocolate maker. Smuggler. Slave trader. One historically unimportant man encompassed all of these professions in a complicated web of commodity, human trafficking, murder, and Old North Church.Owner of pew 13 and father of three children baptized at Old North, Captain Newark Jackson‘s life seemed to tell a generic tale that united the stories of the seafaring community, the Triangle Trade, and the business of small merchants in the colonial era.
However, years of research in archives around the world revealed, layer by layer, that Jackson’s life was far more sordid than it originally seemed…As a result of a two-year, transnational research project – which drew from archives in Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, and the Netherlands – into Captain Newark Jackson, Old North Church & Historic Site will embark on an ambitious educational initiative to investigate and present its connections and entanglement with slavery through the cacao trade. Further, the education department will incorporate these stories – of the enslaved peoples whose lives intertwined with the church’s history along with the stories of the congregants of color who attended services freely or through bondage – to deepen the on-site interpretation and to challenge and enhance the visitor’s understanding of Old North’s role in the founding of our nation and our nation’s changing identity…CLICK TO READ MORE