LEGACY (MOSES BROWN TO JOHN BROWN)
©2011 Tracie Potochnik

When the Sally sailed from the shores of Providence
We counted all our money and then we looked away
We turned ourselves to progress and the cause of higher learning
As rum, tobacco, chains and shackles traveled on the waves

One hundred souls were buried in that deep salt-water shroud
It makes you wonder, who's a savage now?

Hear me now my brother
Won't you listen to my plea
And write a page for freedom
In our blood-stained legacy

When the Sally docked on the shores of Providence
A chill ran through my body and I felt a great unease
My conscience was stone heavy, my heart a shipwreck storm
I said no more sin done in my name, no man's my property

The measure of a man is not the color of his skin
It's the light, so divine that lies within

Hear me now my brother
Won't you listen to my plea
And write a page for freedom
In our blood-stained legacy

Well we can't escape the shadows
Clinging to our family name
But every day I work to find redemption
How can you not do the same?

Hear me now my brother
Won't you listen to my plea
And write a page for mercy
Write a page for justice
Write a page for freedom
And make this our legacy
Make this our legacy
TRACIE POTOCHNIK
Tracie Potochnik - Guitar and Vocal

Recorded at
Scredco Studio
by Greg Bass

www.reverbnation.com/traciepotochnik
Song Notes:
A few years ago, Brown University's Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice released a report that included
information about the University's historical relationship to slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. The report
provided a very clear yet succinct overview of Rhode Island's position as a hub of what was known as the
"Triangle Trade" -- sugar and molasses from the Caribbean were transported to Rhode Island, where they
were distilled into rum, which was then transported to West Africa and traded for slaves, who were then
transported to the Caribbean where they worked producing sugar. The report also went into detail about the
role that the Brown brothers -- and particularly Moses and John Brown -- played. Early on, the Brown brothers
had invested in both small-scale and transatlantic slave trading, and famously mounted a disastrous voyage of
a ship called The Sally in 1763. Of the 196 slaves who were held on The Sally, over 108 died through a
combination of sickness, starvation, suicide, and a failed uprising, and the survivors were sickly and emaciated.
 
Nicholas, Joseph and Moses Brown withdrew from the transatlantic slave trade at this time, motivated primarily
by economic concerns, though their brother John continued his work in the trade. Several years later, Moses
Brown, who had become a Quaker, was the first of the Brown brothers to free his own slaves and renounce the
institution of slavery. He became one of the most prominent abolitionists of the time, and spoke of how the
Sally's voyage had weighed on his conscience through the years. Moses Brown's campaign against the slave
trade put him in direct opposition to his brother John, who was one of the slave trade's most notable defenders,
and the battle between the brothers echoed the much larger debate about the morality and legality of slavery
and the slave trade. As I thought about how I could write a song about Providence's part in the slave trade, I
was drawn to this personal story of two family members at odds with each other on such an important issue. I
took the perspective of Moses Brown -- he is narrating the song, speaking directly to his brother John, and
pleading with him to change his views. Though their legacy would always be marred by the voyage of The Sally
and involvement with the slave trade, Moses Brown fought passionately for freedom and justice. Despite his
pleas, he could never convince his brother John to do the same.

The report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, as well as links to more
information including original documents, can be found here: http://
www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/.