In the third and last part of this series, we explore the actions of sailors and slaves during the Stamp Act Crisis. In the late fall of 1765, colonists wearing “soot, sailors habits and slouch hats” harassed Crown officials, tore down houses of prominent merchants, and violently hounded those suspected of involvement with the “damned stampt paper.” Descriptions of these disorderly, drunken protestors contrasted with accounts of symbolic protest scenes, such as funerals for “Liberty.” Molly Fitzgerald Perry, Lecturer at Christopher Newport University, will analyze the descriptions of Jack Tar sailors alongside those of free and enslaved people of color, highlighting questions of these individuals as both social actors and political icons. Tracing the spread of news and heated debates between residents of New England port towns and plantation ports across the Lower South and West Indies, Ms. Perry will recreate the central role played by mariners and African Americans during this moment of imperial disruption. (Image: Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, John Greenwood)
BIO: Molly Fitzgerald Perry
Molly is a professor in the History Department at Christopher Newport University, teaching courses on Early American History, Comparative Slavery, Caribbean History and Culture, and Comparative Revolutions of the Atlantic World. As well, she teaches aspiring secondary social studies teachers in CNU’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. When not in the archives or reading colonial newspapers, she can be found on a sailboat or anywhere near the water.