Rhode Island’s early trade was with Barbados and other islands in the West Indies. The main product from these islands was sugar cane and molasses.
Slaves in these Caribbean sugar plantations produced molasses which was transported to Rhode Island distilleries and made into rum. The rum was then shipped to Africa and traded for slaves to be taken to the Caribbean sugar plantations to produce more molasses.
In Rhode Island, rum distilleries sprang up everywhere. By the mid 1700s there were more than 22 distilleries in Rhode Island. “Old Antram’s distillery”, now the Antram Grey House, was one of them.