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In The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret B. Moore talks about the attitude of Derby and of Salem to slaves brought from Africa, and she also discusses the possibility that Hawthorne wrote some of his stories in the garden of the Richard Derby house (courtesy of the University of Missouri Press)

"According to Margaret B. Moore in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne visited that house and wrote stories in the summerhouse in the garden. If so, Moore says, "it changes the picture of Nathaniel holed-up in his top-floor room [of the Manning house at 10 1/2 Herbert St.], isolated from the world. It would mean that he had written some of those early stories in the midst of flowers and sunshine! And its influence may be seen in the description of the Pyncheon garden in The House of the Seven Gables" (213).

Moore also notes in her book The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne that Elias Haskett Derby "refused to let his ship, the Grand Turk, board slaves on its first voyage to the Gold Coast" (137). She goes on to say that "[f]or the most part, Salem did not seem to be heavily involved in slavery; at the same time the town did not seem overly aware of any problem with it" (137).