EventsJared Ross Hardesty—Mutiny on the Rising Sun: A Tragic Tale of Slavery, Smuggling, and Chocolate

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Jared Ross Hardesty—Mutiny on the Rising Sun: A Tragic Tale of Slavery, Smuggling, and Chocolate

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


This presentation will be held on Zoom, and the link to attend will be sent to registrants the afternoon of the event.

Recently uncovered information about a relatively unknown story of mutiny and murder illustrating the centrality of smuggling and slavery in early American society with ties to the respected Old North Church of Paul Revere fame in Boston.

Mutiny on the Rising Sun recounts the origins, events, and eventual fate of the Rising Sun’s final smuggling voyage in vivid detail. Starting from June 1743, it narrates a deeply human history of smuggling, providing an incredible story of those caught in the webs spun by illicit commerce. On the night of June 1, 1743, terror struck the schooner Rising Sun. After completing a routine smuggling voyage where the crew sold enslaved Africans in exchange for chocolate, sugar, and coffee in the Dutch colony of Suriname, the ship traveled eastward along the South American coast. Believing there was an opportunity to steal the lucrative cargo and make a new life for themselves, three sailors snuck below deck, murdered four people, and seized control of the vessel.

The case generated a rich documentary record that illuminates an international chocolate smuggling ring, the lives of the crew and mutineers, and the harrowing experience of the enslaved people trafficked by the Rising Sun. Smuggling stood at the center of the lives of everyone involved with the business of the schooner. Larger forces, such as imperial trade restrictions, created the conditions for smuggling, but individual actors, often driven by raw ambition and with little regard for the consequences of their actions, designed, refined, and perpetuated this illicit commerce.

Author Jared Ross Hardesty puts Old North Church under the spotlight as parishioners of the church who were formerly well-regarded and even helped pay for the famous steeple turn out to be involved in the slave trade. Captain Newark Jackson is the central figure, who was formerly honored with a chocolate shop in the North End named after him (2013–2019), but his name has now been removed from the store due to these revelations.

At once startling and captivating, Mutiny on the Rising Sun shows how illegal trade created demand for exotic products like chocolate, and how slavery and smuggling were integral to the development of American capitalism.

Jared Ross Hardesty is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Western Washington University and author of Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston and Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New EnglandFor this program, Jared will be interviewed by Tessa Murphy, Assistant Professor of History at Syracuse University an expert on the history of the Caribbean and its connections to the greater Atlantic world.

For additional reading, we recommend the following articles:

Buy a copy of the book through our local independent bookseller and partner Trident Books here. Use the code BPLSHIP for free media mail shipping.

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