Stone Wall Freedom

Part I - The Pirate

A small rugged Northeastern Island, Pirates, kidnapping, buried treasure, slave ships, and freedom for stone walls. Author David Lee Tucker masterfully weaves each element into one compelling tapestry beginning with Part I: Stone Wall Freedom - The Pirate.

The year is 1749. A sleek Spanish ship gently rocks in the morning Caribbean sun. The cool breeze belies the horrors being exacted both on deck and below. She is a slave ship, and her crew has just been overwhelmed by Captain Giddy Gilcox and the pirate crew of the Rogue Flattery. It is the first slave ship the pirates have ever scuttled. The crew bristles—there's a sense of foreboding about the ship that makes them anxious; they've heard stories of the pirate Black Sam Bellamy meeting his death after overtaking a slave ship. But Gilcox, a student of the great pirates before him, berates his men: "Many a superstitious pirate has attributed the ship's demise to the slave trade she had once carried. Don't be fools, soldiers. A ship is no more than wood and iron and tar and canvas. And these animals on this ship will soon be resting at the bottom of the sea."

 

Part II - The Islander

Sea captain Alexander Hawkins has returned to his Block Island, Rhode Island home after an extended merchant voyage. Although eagerly anticipating his time back home after so long at sea, he soon learns that little has gone well in his absence. His father has struggled with the family farm and Alexander's sweetheart, Rebekah, greets him with cool contempt. In addition, the political atmosphere in this spring of 1776 is highly charged, as the American colonies scramble to defend their rights against the British. Alexander himself awaits news of his own commission into the fledgling American Navy.

But there is more to the prevailing attitudes on Block Island than freedom from British oppression-many Sons of Liberty insist that freedom from British rule means freedom for all men, black as well as white. Yet many patriots wonder about losing their profits-even some of their property-if they can no longer own slaves. Alexander stands firmly on the side of freedom for all, even as he has to maintain "social order" with his companion and "brother", Nathan - a slave. This conundrum looms large in Alexander's mind and colors his decisions and behavior.

Part III – The Slave

In the spring of 1786, the slave Hannibal, property of the dour and gruff Sam Williams, sat silently in the wagon that carried him and his master into Harbor Bay of Block Island. Hannibal was a bondservant here on the island, with few rights of his own, but in his homeland of West Africa, he was the son of an Asantehene king, and his posture and countenance always bespoke his heritage.

For years, the slaves toiled on Block Island by clearing the rocky soil, making it suitable for planting crops, and they were promised their freedom if they used the rock to erect stone walls. Now, however, the requirements have changed: slaves cannot build without their masters’ permission, and if the wall were to fall down—something that could easily be arranged—it would mean endlessly starting over again.

A calling to lead the other island slaves to freedom overwhelms Hannibal’s personal determination to escape. In spite of the many forces working against him, there are forces, unseen, working in his favor. Will the final stone Hannibal lays upon his wall be the flint to ignite the fire that will culminate in the triumph of freedom, not only for Hannibal and the island slaves, but for Islanders as well?

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