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Three More Unredeemed Captives: Escaping Slavery in 18th C Western MA
August 20, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pmFree
The Reverend Stephen Williams (1694-1782) is famous for his childhood experience as a prisoner of war among the Mohawk Indians, but history has forgotten that the former captive (discussed in John Demos’ The Unredeemed Captive) grew up to become an enslaver. This talk offers a new vision of colonial Massachusetts by telling the stories of Tom, Cato, and Peter, three enslaved Black men who risked everything to escape from Reverend Williams’s parsonage in Longmeadow, fleeing toward uncertain fates. By tracing their paths across diary entries and newspaper articles, we can glimpse striking details about slavery in Western Massachusetts and realize how enslaved people were defining forces in the social landscape – especially through their resistance.
The talk will be delivered by Michael Baick, a 22-year-old recent Harvard graduate who uncovered the stories of Black and Native people in Longmeadow, his hometown, for his award-winning senior thesis. Equipped with diary entries, newspaper articles, legal documents, and hometown knowledge, Baick reconstructs the lives and deaths of enslaved Black people who have been erased from local memory — and argues we cannot understand the history of New England without them.
Michael Baick grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in May 2022 with a degree in History and Literature. In college, his interest in Black and Indigenous history, memory studies, and engaged scholarship led him to write a senior thesis about his hometown. Since graduating, Baick has worked to bring his research back to local public schools.
This talk will be held at the Bidwell House Museum and livestreamed via Zoom. Due to limited seating, tickets must be purchased in advance