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Boston confronts its legacy of slavery

Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson at a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannella Chamber on June 15.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Many prominent Bostonians engaged in slave trade

Peter Faneuil was just one of many prominent local men who made themselves enormously wealthy from slave trading (“City Council to consider apology for slave trade,” Metro, June 15). To name just a few, there were Samuel Maverick, Thomas Perkins and his brothers, and George Cabot. Perkins took to smuggling enslaved people into the United States, even after the US Constitution had outlawed the international trade as of 1808. Slave trading was that profitable.

When he was the US senator from Massachusetts, Cabot sponsored the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. Besides being the home of Cabot, Brookline was home to five other slave traders, two of whom built their mansions in the manner of Caribbean slave plantations.


Barbara B. Brown


The writer is chair of the Hidden Brookline Committee and is a visiting researcher at the African Studies Center at Boston University.

Sins of the past are not ours to apologize for

In apologizing for Boston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson is quite right in saying that “when a harm is done, the first step is to acknowledge the harm and apologize” (“City Council apologizes for Boston’s role in slave trade,” Metro, June 16). She leaves out only one detail: that those who need to apologize are those who have done the harm.

The last known slave ship to land on US soil, the Clotilda, did so in 1859 or 1860. People living in Boston in 2022, regardless of their ethnicity, are no more responsible for the evils committed by those aboard than are people living in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Kalamazoo.

John Harutunian