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A Century in Captivity
The Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slave
Denis R. Caron



Revisiting New England

University of New Hampshire Press
2006 • 208 pp. 13 illus. 6 x 9"
African-American Studies

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-540-4



“Author Denis Caron offers, at last, a just epitaph for a slave lost to history. It is a story that deeply matters, and it will live as a demonstration of the grace bestowed on us all when a writer illuminates the magnificent in the ordinary.”—Faith Middleton, The Faith Middleton Show, WNPR

The riveting reconstruction of an eighteenth-century slave's life and imprisonment

On December 21, 1811, a Middletown, Connecticut judge sentenced Prince Mortimer, a sickly eighty-seven-year-old slave, to life imprisonment for attempting to poison his master by lacing his chocolate drink with arsenic. Prince spent the next sixteen years in Connecticut's notorious Newgate Prison, a colonial copper mine that had been converted into America's first state prison. In 1827 the dungeons at Newgate were closed forever, and the prisoners were transferred to the newly constructed Wethersfield State Prison. Wethersfield was supposed to be modern and progressive, but prisoners suffered there every bit as much as at Newgate. In 1834, Prince died there in his 31/2-by-7-foot cell, reportedly at the age of 110. From his capture into slavery as a child in Guinea in about 1730, through his more than eighty years as a slave and twenty-three years as a prisoner, Prince had endured more than a century in captivity.

In an astounding feat of historical inquiry and scholarship, author Denis R. Caron has assembled a mass of facts and insights that will mesmerize general interest readers and students of African American, regional, legal, and penal history alike. A Century in Captivity is a marvelous and sobering story previously lost to history, filled with dashed dreams of freedom, unrelenting miseries, and struggles for wealth and power.

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Reviews:

"A Century in Captivity: The Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slavenot only resurrects a life that was otherwise lost to history, but offers a chilling portrait of the state's early prisons, and Middletown's place in the northern slave trade."—Hartford Courant

"[T]his book provides a solid overview of penal reform and the prison system in Connecticut in the early nineteenth century. Caron also offers an interesting glimpse into the complexity of property law in nineteenth-century Connecticut that would appeal to individuals interested in early American legal history."Common-Place

“While the reasons behind the near poisoning of George Star will most likely never be known, thanks to Caron, Mortimer's story will: a story of nearly unspeakable hardship, unconscionable cruelty, and the remarkable perseverance of the human will."—Middleton (CT) Press

Endorsements:

“Denis Caron brings the analytic skills of a lawyer to the task of fleshing out the largely undocumented life of an eighteenth-century slave. While his scholarship is thorough and precise, Caron's narrative is accessible and compelling to the average reader.” —Stephen Goddard, author of Colonel Albert Pope and his American Dream Machines

Awards/Recognition:

Connecticut Center for the Book Award: Biography & Memoir 2007


Author Photo

DENIS R. CARON is an attorney for a national title insurance company. He is the author of Connecticut Foreclosures, now in its fourth edition, and has written and lectured on many aspects of real property law.






Sun, 5 Oct 2014 14:28:50 -0500