JESSIE DONALDSON (1799-1889) SWANSEA ABOLITIONIST JEN WILSON While researching the history of slave songs in Wales, my eye was caught by an unusual item: an obituary of a woman. The fact that it was given a headline 'Death of Mrs. Donaldson' invited me to read and ask 'Who?' The obituary in The Cambrian of September 1889 was two-thirds about her husband and brother and an intriguing few lines about her: In America Mrs. Donaldson united with her husband and his family in support of the Abolitionist movement. She was well-acquainted with Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ellen Craft and many of the other leaders. The house where she and her husband lived was on the banks of the Ohio, opposite to the slave holding state of Kentucky and at times it was used by fugitives as one of the stations of what was termed the 'underground railway' by which they travelled to the free land of Canada. The reference was filed away but not forgotten until a grant from the Swansea Citizen- ship Millennium Award enabled me to discover more about her for my 'Roots' project. Jessie Donaldson's life is undocumented. For three years she existed with just a surname Donaldson in the Women in Jazz* archives in Swansea, and with an initial J in Cincinnati Local History Archives. To know her we have to begin with her obituary and work with the people and politics of her time. Mrs. Donaldson was probably aware of the extent of Britain's trade in human misery. Wales contributed its part by manufacturing and exporting metal goods to Africa, shipping slave labour to the West Indies, and importing sugar, tobacco and rum for Britain. This was known as 'the triangular trade'. These lucrative trade routes financed the industrial revolution and allowed the slave trade to be economically viable. Bristol was the major port operating the triangular trade and its most profit- able years were from 1698 to the 1740s. It was from Bristol that Jessie's father, Samuel Heineken, a lawyer, Unitarian and Abolitionist, arrived in Swansea.