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Slavery in Medford. by Walter H. Cushing. Slavery existed in Massachusetts almost from the first settlement of the colony, and was somewhat increased as a result of the Pequot war in 1637. The slaves in this instance were, of course, Indians. The chief source of African slaves, so far as their importation is concerned, was through trade with Barbadoes, a British island in the West Indies. Slaves purchased in Africa were sold chiefly in the West Indies and the Southern colonies; the balance came North. The mainspring of the traffic was rum; and Brooks in his History of Medford gives an extract from a captain's account-book showing balance between rum and slaves. Very few whole cargoes, however, came to Massachusetts; and only a small number of ships from Boston engaged in the African trade. In 1703 a duty of £ 4 was imposed on every negro imported. Slaves were most numerous in Massachusetts about 1745; in 1763 the ratio of whites to blacks, the latter including many fre