The Legend of Neptune: A Portrait of Enslavement and Emancipation in 18th-Century Worcester County, Massachusetts
Date of Award
African American Studies
“The Legend of Neptune” tracks the life of a man named Neptune, who was enslaved at my childhood home in Still River, MA 01467 for fifteen years during 1742-1757. The general topic of this undergraduate thesis is slavery in seventeenth and eighteenth-century central Massachusetts; the main topic is uncovering the voice, history, and stories of an identified enslaved and then free Black man named Neptune. The project uses a vast array of primary sources to construct a narrative that centers Neptune’s life and experiences, supported by secondary historical research. This project also tells a counternarrative to the official history of the town of Harvard by Henry S. Nourse, adopting an Indigenous perspective. The project also chronicles the history of the land that enslaves Neptune, how Neptune arrives at Still River, and the four moments that Neptune is mentioned in the historical record. Neptune is mentioned in Joseph Hutchins’s will, created in 1742 and brought to probate in 1757, as being willed into a lifetime of slavery; the second mention is in 1789 when Neptune is free and is recorded as marrying a Rose Tyler in Barre, MA; the third moment is the 1800 census of Barre, MA in which Neptune is recorded under the name “Nipton”; and the fourth and final mention is in 1811 when Neptune, an African is recorded as dying in the Barre, MA annals. The project ends by proposing avenues for further research and discussing the importance of raising erased histories.
Lewis, Brigitte, "The Legend of Neptune: A Portrait of Enslavement and Emancipation in 18th-Century Worcester County, Massachusetts" (2021). Honors Theses. 1851.
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Available for download on Monday, April 29, 2024
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