< Back

Revolutionary War Site Newburyport

Newburyport is a small coastal town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, 28 miles (61 km) northeast of Boston. The population was 21,189 at the 2000 census. An historic seaport with a vibrant tourism industry, Newburyport includes part of Plum Island. The mooring, winter storage and maintenance of recreational boats, motor and sail, still contribute a large part of the city's income. A Coast Guard station oversees boating activity, especially in the swift tidal currents of the Merrimack River. At a small park called Brown Square statues of two New England notables dominated either end of the park. One was of Moses Brown, an early industrialist who earned a vast fortune that rested on sugar, rum, and slaves. Throughout the early 1800s, Brown imported sugar from the West Indies to Newburyport, where it was processed into rum. The rum was sold in America and exported. While Brown did not have or sell slaves himself, they were essential to the sugar growing industry in the West Indies. The sugar was essential to making the rum. The rum produced huge profits. Sugar, rum, and slaves were the basis of much of New England’s wealth in the early 18th century. Brown grew so rich on the trade that when French privateers began seizing American merchantmen in the late 1700s, he built and equipped, at his own expense, ships for the fledgling American Navy. One, the Merrimac, was built in Newburyport. She captured four French privateers and recovered many seized American ships. The other statue was of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, “The Great Liberator,” Brown’s diametric opposite, at least as regards slavery.