icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Online Collection
Select a page:

Page 11
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
Contact us for information about using this image.

label levels:

Slavery was well established throughout Britain's North American colonies by the 1700's. Enslaved African Americans made up about four percent of the total population of New England. The society, economy, and landscape of the northern colonies could not support the plantation system of the South and the sugar islands of the West Indies. New England's slaves were most concentrated in the coastal cities but many lived in inland towns and rural areas as well. When the Reverend Jonathan Ashley (1712-1780) was keeping his account book, the rural town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, had a population of over two dozen enslaved residents. Jonathan Ashley owned three slaves- Jenny, Titus, and Cato. These pages from his account book record the amount and sort of work Titus and Cato performed for Ashley's various trading partners in the 1750's. It might seem surprising that a minister would own slaves but this was an accepted and common practice in the 18th century among clergy, lawyers and other professional men. Samuel Sewall, who served as a member of Governor's Council in Massachusetts from 1691-1725, wrote that African Americans were "poor silly wretches" who could "seldom use their freedom well". Many whites viewed them as being eternal children in need of care and guidance from European Americans. What better owners than ministers who could also ensure the salvation of their slaves' souls by Christianizing them?


top of page

Pages from Rev. Jonathan Ashley's account book

creator   Reverend Jonathan Ashley (1712-1780)
date   1752-1759
location   Deerfield, Massachusetts
height   15.0"
width   6.0"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Personal Documents/Account book
accession #   #L00.044

Look Closer icon My Collection icon Transcription icon Detailed info icon

ecard icon Send an e-Postcard of this object

See Also...

Pages from Elijah Williams (Old Soldier's) account book, Vol. 2

"Negro Slavery in Old Deerfield"

Complaint against slave Caesar for stealing

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback