James De Wolf

James De Wolf

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James De Wolf

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James DeWolf (March 18, 1764 December 21, 1837), nicknamed "Captain Jim", was a United States Senator from Rhode Island, a long-time state legislator at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and a leading figure in the slave trade.


Born in Bristol, Rhode Island to a shipping family, DeWolf shipped as a sailor on a private armed vessel during the American Revolutionary War. He participated in several naval encounters and was captured twice by the British. He became captain of a ship before he was 20 and engaged in commercial ventures, including trading in slaves, with Cuba and other West Indian islands. In 1790, he married Nancy Ann Bradford, the daughter of William Bradford, who would become U.S. Senator of Rhode Island before him.In 1791, DeWolf was indicted for murder by a Newport, Rhode Island grand jury. He was alleged to have had a female slave sick with typhoid fever thrown overboard while gagged and tied to a chair, this after almost his entire crew refused to participate in the murder. DeWolf heard the indictment and immediately left for the Gold Coast of Africa. Two members of the crew, one of whom had participated in the killing, stated in a 1794 deposition taken in St. Eustatius, Leeward Islands that the action was necessary in order to save those on board from the disease. DeWolf...
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