CNN-Katrina Browne, a descendant of wealthy Northerners, said she always thought slavery was confined to the South, until she began digging through her own family's history. She learned that her family, the DeWolfs, sailed ships from Bristol, Rhode Island, to West Africa, trading rum for African men, women and children in the late 1700s to early 1800s.
The DeWolf family brought more than 10,000 slaves from Africa, she said, and eventually became one of the wealthiest families in the nation as a result of its slave-trading business. Browne detailed her family's experience in a documentary last year called "Traces of the Trade: A story from the Deep North," as part of PBS's "Point of View" series.
"I'm a firm believer in the U.S. government apologizing because of all the ways in which the government supported and condoned and made slavery possible," said Browne.
"What most Americans don't know is the extensive complicity of the North in slavery. The victors write the history books, so the North wrote the history on slavery and very conveniently painted it solely as a Southern sin, whereas in fact the Northern colonies and states owned slaves for over 200 years and were the main slave traders."