Wealth and Slavery in Massachusetts | Stuff You Missed in History Class

Wealth and Slavery in Massachusetts | Stuff You Missed in History Class

Hi, I’m Holly Frey. And I’m Tracy V. Wilson. And we are visiting Medford, Massachusetts
today, and specifically the Royall House and Slave Quarters. This is a wonderful and unique home museum,
it is a home people used to live in and there are also slave quarters that still exits where
enslaved people lived on the property. We could tell you about it but we have experts
so we’re going to go talk to them and get the whole scoop. My name is Penny Outlaw and I’m co-president
of the Royall House and Slave Quarters. The Royall House and Slave Quarters was purchased
in 1737 and it was only a 4 room brick cottage, two rooms on the 1st floor and 2 rooms on
the 2nd floor. It was purchased by Isaac Royall, Sr. who
had made his money in the slave trade and was living on a plantation in Antigua, in
the Caribbean, and he wanted to come back to Massachusetts where he was from. And significant work was done to probably
quadruple the size of the house and make it into a colonial Georgian mansion, ready for
Isaac Royall, Sr. and his family’s arrival in 1737. He decided that he wanted to come home probably
late 1720s, early 1730s. We don’t know what prompted this decision. We do know that there were some slave revolts
in the Caribbean at the time and they were really well publicized, but we don’t know
that that was specifically the reason that he decided to return to Massachusetts. Isaac Royall, Sr. was a very active participant
in what has become known as the triangle slave trade, and that was the trade that was existing
starting in Africa, where the British, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French were capturing
and enslaving Africans, forcing them onto ships. This is off the coast of Western Africa. They were then enduring what became known
as the middle passage, so a trip from Africa, mostly at this point in time, they were going
to the Caribbean, because they were growing sugarcane in the Caribbean. So those were 2 points in the triangle, and
the third point would be some point in North America. And it’s many points in North America. As far as this property is concerned, the
key point Medford is a very important place in that trade because Medford was the center
of rum making in the colonies. Cane is being made into molasses and being
shipped to specifically Medford, Massachusetts barrels of molasses to be distilled into rum. Slavery was very common in the north. People were well aware of it. If you looked at newspaper advertisements
people were advertising to buy and sell people in pretty much every paper. Children are being bought and sold, in some
cases babies are being given away. The Royalls lived very differently than the
enslaved people. The Royalls were people of leasure, they were
at the top of the society in terms of wealth. So they would have done almost nothing, in
terms of physical activity and they would have done no work, literally. Everything was done for them. So their typical day they would most likely
be entertaining, they could have visitors from England who would come and stay a year. They would have visitors, other very wealthy
people who would come to visit for a week or so. So their day would be spent chatting and playing
cards and sitting by the window reading. And you’ll notice that the house has window
seats in almost every room for that purpose. But they would be waiting for various meals
to be served. By contrast, the enslaved people would be
doing all of the work for, what you could look at as a small boutique hotel, between
the Royall family and all of their visitors. So they would be making all of the meals,
they would be doing all of the cleaning, they would be making candles, things that we don’t
think about now. But candles were your light source, and you
would need hundreds of candles weekly for lights, because if you ran out of candles,
you ran out of light. They would be grinding wheat for flour. They would be doing all the cyclical cooking
things to put things away in root cellars and to salt meat and put that away for the
winter. Because you’re going to have 7 or 8 months
in New England where you’re not harvesting anything and what you have to eat is what
you put away. They would do all the cleaning, any drawing
of baths, they would keep all the fires going in all the rooms during the cool season, which
really starts in October and ends, you know late May. This room that we’re in is called the kitchen
chamber. And on that same inventory that was done in
1739 when Isaac Royall Sr. died, there was an inventory done for probate purposes, and
it listed everything in every room and it’s market value, and on that inventory this is
called the kitchen chamber, so that’s the room that we’re standing in now. Notice its contrast with the room that we
were just in which was called the ‘marble chamber’ which was the master bedroom. Clearly it’s a work room, we have interpreted
this room back to the way it was in 1739. So what we think is that enslaved Africans
slept in this room, even though it was a work room, because they were working mostly all
of the time and you really slept when and where you could. You did not have a room of your own, or even
a room of your own to share. The Royall family, their level of wealth,
it would have taken a certain number of people to provide the service that they wanted. So a certain number of people to do the cooking,
to tend the fires, to make the candles, to chop the wood, to do all the things to keep
the house and the Royalls going. When people come to the Royall House, if they
don’t remember anything else, I’d like them to remember the disparity in the two sets
of lives that were lived here. And remember what close proximity both populations
were in with the slave quarters being about 50 ft. from the mansion. So you have 2 different populations living
incredibly close together, but being at absolute opposite ends of the spectrum. Many many thanks to the Royall House and Slave
Quarters and particularly Penny who was our guide through this piece of history. And to Gracelaw Simmons who works there and
arranged a lot of the day’s events for us. Yeah, I was really glad to be able to learn
the story, not just of who lived on this property, but how that also connected to other lives
in the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world. Yeah, it really give us a strong sense of
the fact that slavery if a global issue and has been historically. So again, many, many thanks to Royall House. And thank you again to Penny and Gracelaw. You can come to our website which is MissedInHistory.com
you can subscribe to our podcast which is Stuff you Missed in History Class and you
can come to our parent company’s website, HowStuffWorks.com to learn about anything
your heart desires.


  1. zach vellekamp says:

    100% Garunteed those girls both on tumblr

  2. dan wolves says:

    Wow, you would think at least one of 'em would have started a candle~making business ..huh. [email protected]! Sheesh, one would ((think)) that if they made everything.. they could have made BANK off doing so after Slavery was abolished ?!!

    Oh well, should have, could have.. would have ..huh.

  3. norfillyson says:

    Very important

  4. regantlew15 says:

    white people evil as fuck

  5. Nausi Windstrider says:

    I was thrilled to see Holly and Tracy together on a video. After a moment of fangirl glee I sobered and was filled with gratefulness for what the two of you do. I was not aware that any place like this existed. Just as with you podcast ep about the Tenement museum you've opened my eyes to another way history is living and breathing all around us. It's so important to be mindful of the fact that America is not an old nation, and these things are not all that far in the past, not in the grand scheme of things. We are still feeling the effects of these events in our society. (Speaking for Americans) Thank you again for all that you do to help broaden the perspectives of people all over the world. The two of you are heroes and role models for me that I put along side Isaac Asimov, Ursula K Lu Guin, and Trevor Noah.

  6. Christine Parker-Shoemaker says:

    Love this – please do more historical videos!!

  7. Dan Troop says:

    Slavery at any time in its long history is deplorable. It was bad when the Egyptians did it, when the Greeks did it, when the Romans did it, when Europeans did it or were taken as slaves by other tribes or cultures and is still wrong today when it is still practiced in third world countries and Muslim groups.
    European slave traders did not go out into the African countryside and capture slaves, they bought the African slaves other which Africans had captured and sold to whoever had the money.

  8. Charles Labedz says:

    the Europeans weren't enslaving the Africans… they were purchasing them at the slave market in Africa. otherwise this is a great video.

  9. marie1w says:

    it would be nice to try and locate the ancestors of the slaves then sell the house and pay them or start reparations in some form because they are still making money on that plantation.

  10. light within says:

    they enslaved human beings for money. a lot of people got tortured and bad things happened..now the rich and the slaves died…each person is now facing the consequences of their action in the other life.

  11. jerospace says:

    Great job ladies! More videos please:)

  12. EyE AM says:

    Have you guys ever looked into the flat Earth theory. I know It sounds
    stupid, but if you {really} look hard enough you won't like what you
    find. Just keep asking yourself why and don't get scared. "I'm Sorry"
    but you will see things differently from that point on. Question everything Sincerely, I AM

  13. Taylor Teller says:

    ok u learn this . but I don't & not interested

  14. Nexus of ice says:

    I think that is a little bit of incorrect information about who captured the African slaves… OTHER African tribes captured other Africans and sold them into slavery to the Europeans on the ships most of the time. So the Africans were actually selling themselves into slavery. I think the "expert" needs some more research time.

  15. redneckhippiefreak says:

    The thing that I find sad. Questioning if We ever stopped the practice or just repackaged it in a more sterile and attractive package.. =/

  16. DigiPal says:

    Can someone please explain why nobody say that, in the first place, "black" africans and muslims, sometimes both together, were behind most of the kidnappings in smalls villages in Africa? It's a known fact now. Not that I don't want to see that slavery in America was a white men business, but in Africa, muslims and black men were behind these kidnappings, for a large amount, as the historicians say now.

  17. edward lewis says:

    What is the difference between slaves and pets?

  18. Da Noyze says:

    lol I knew in the back of my mind their so-called professional would be a black woman which in no way shape or form has ever been or will be a Slave.

  19. Da Noyze says:

    I have to call BS African kings was selling and enslaving their own people. let's talk about the Islamic slave trade of Africa. there's more slavery today in Africa than there was in the past fact

  20. tamapalagi says:

    blacks were deemed perfect for slavery because they can always be spotted as slaves because they are black.

  21. Rocio Chavez says:

    we are all human no matter color or race this is just sad i hate this time of history its just a shame how you can feel your better than someone just because your color or the fact that you had money

  22. Josetta Adams says:

    Lets talk about the basic concept of supply and demand.. Both the seller and buyer play a part, no?

  23. medped says:

    SHAME!!!! What is there to be proud of? It's disgraceful

  24. Ra Akhanaten says:

    Tracy V Wilson ?

  25. Queen A says:

    Smh at slavery

  26. Karian S says:

    I'm so happy to have a face for you guys now! Way to rock the purple hair!

  27. Drty Harry says:

    He was scared of the Haitians. Facts #1804

  28. Johnny Casteel says:

    The fact this only has 14k views is pathetic and shows how far in denial people are.

  29. John Sweeney says:

    WOW!!! This is an incredibly one sided view of the Isaac Royalls, their slaves, and their lives! It's unfortunate that people continue to attempt to rewrite history and denigrate those who were a part of it to suit their own particular views.

  30. ivorytower99 says:

    Back begining in the early 1980s and for many years that followed, my Uncle was a the Pres. of the Royall House Asso. and he and my aunt lived upstairs in the slave's quarters. One thing that is not shown would be the shackles on the walls of the basement of the "Slaves Quarters". Ironic he had this job.

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