Rowland Gibson Hazard

Rhode Island Manufacturer, Politician, and Philosopher
In the winter of 1841, while on a business trip to New Orleans, Rowland Gibson Hazard received word that an African-American man from Newport, R.I. was being held in Louisiana as a slave. Hazard spent several weeks investigating, and found that many other free African-Americans were on chain gangs and in jails under the assumption they were escaped slaves. With the help of Jacob Barker, a New Orleans lawyer and later United States Senator from Louisiana, Hazard spent several months trying to obtain legal judgments freeing the people being held. Amid repeated threats to his life, Hazard's efforts ultimately gained the freedom of nearly one hundred people being held as slaves, and the following year a New Orleans grand jury instructed prosecutors to charge several officials who had been holding the people. Hazard's granddaughter Caroline claimed that he regarded his actions gaining the freedom of these men as the greatest effort of his life.

Rowland Gibson Hazard was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island on October 9, 1801, the son of Rowland and Mary (Peace) Hazard. He was raised in the home of his maternal grandfather, Isaac Peace, in Bristol, Pennsylvania and attended school in Burlington, New Jersey. He returned to Rhode Island in 1819 to manage the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company established by his father in 1802.

Hazard was involved in a number of public activities, participating in both social reform activities and in Free Soil and Republican Party politics. He served both as a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and as a member of the Rhode Island Senate.

Hazard was also a prolific writer who produced a long list of works on philosophy, economics, and politics, including Language (1835), Causes of Decline of Political Morality (1841), Freedom of  Mind in Willing (1866), and Causation and Freedom in Willing (1869).

In 1845, he was awarded an honorary L.L.D. degree by Brown University. He married Caroline Newbold in 1828, and had two sons, Rowland and John. Rowland Gibson Hazard died in Peace Dale, Rhode Island on June 24, 1888.

Come to the second floor of the University Library to find out more about the life of Rowland Gibson Hazard, including his activities as a mill owner, social reformer, philosopher, and friend of John Stuart Mill, William Ellery Channing, and many of the New England Transcendentalists.  The exhibit will run February through the first week of March, 2007. Curated by David Sherman, GLSIS pending May 2007.

Also available in the URI Library Special Collections Unit are Hazard's papers, as well as the papers of his son, Rowland Hazard, and granddaughter Caroline Hazard.

The Rhode Island Historical Society also has the Rowland G. and Caroline (Newbold) Hazard Papers, the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company Records, and the personal papers of several members of the Hazard family.