Slavery in Colonial Rhode Island – Saturday, June 22 @ 1:30 PM

A Talk Given by Fred Zilian, Ph.D.

The histories of colonial Rhode Island and of slavery in the New World are intimately connected. This talk will first describe the beginnings of slavery in the colony of Rhode Island, its growth in the colony in the 18th century, and Rhode Island’s key role in the Atlantic slave-trading system. It will then address slavery in Little Compton, Bristol, Providence, “Narragansett Country,” and Newport. It will end by examining the demographics of slavery in RI, the lives of the enslaved, and resistance to slavery. Q & A to follow.

Short Bio—Fred Zilian 

After a 21-year career as an infantry officer in the Army, Fred Zilian was an educator at Portsmouth Abbey School, 1992-2015, where he taught history, ethics, and German. He was an adjunct professor (history and politics) at Salve Regina University, 2016-2022. He now lectures on a wide variety of subjects, gives literature and poetry readings, and offers tours of Newport, the Battle of Rhode Island (1778), and Boston. (See:

Zilian holds a Ph.D. in international relations/strategic studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and book reviews on a wide variety of subjects in numerous publications from the Wall Street Journal to the Newport Daily News.

He has also published a book: From Confrontation to Cooperation: The Takeover of the National People’s (East German) Army by the Bundeswehr. For 20 years he performed as Abraham Lincoln in his one-man play, “Honest Abe.”

He writes for The Hill ( ), the History News Network ( ), and the Online Review of Rhode Island History ( ). He blogs on a wide variety of subjects at .