Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
at Prescott Park
Enslavement of Africans was part of Portsmouth life by 1645. Portsmouth merchants were involved in the slave trade by the 1680s. Captives arrived in Portsmouth by ship at piers like Long Wharf, which stood here in colonial times. Mostly male children and adolescents, they were advertised in terms like those quoted above. They were auctioned, or sometimes sold directly from shipboard or dockside. In Portsmouth the enslaved were made to work as house servants, craftsmen, seamen, dock workers, and farm hands. As diverse West African languages were augmented by a new shared language, community building began. A 1775 census reported 656 enslaved Africans in New Hampshire, mostly in Portsmouth and adjacent towns. There were also a small number of free black residents. Since colonial times Portsmouth's population has remained 2% - 4% black.
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Shafe Wharf photo courtesy Beaupre/Portsmouth Harbour Trail
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