The schooner Abigail would become Warren’s first slave ship in 1789, two years after slave trading had been declared illegal for Rhode Island residents. But that did not deter Warren’s Ebenezer Cole (Town Councilman for 11 terms), Captain Charles Collins (Town Councilman for 3 terms) and James and Level Maxwell from investing in the ship. It was designed with a middle deck less than five feet high where the kidnapped Africans would be imprisoned. The ship would not return for more than 8 months.
We know little about that journey. But the records of The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database — slavevoyages.org — states that 64 African men, women and children were forced onto the ship and then imprisoned for two months. Traveling through the torturous Middle Passage, at least eleven died; it’s likely their bodies were thrown overboard on the open sea. The surviving 53 people were sold into slavery in the Caribbean and the Abigail returned home with the profits.