Native Americans enslaved prisoners of war. They also sometimes adopted these prisoners into their own tribe.
In what would later become the United States, the Spanish set up colonies in modern day Florida, California and parts of the west. The colony of St. Augustine in Florida was established in 1565, Santa Fe in 1609 and Taos in 1615.
Slave labor was especially useful in the mid-1700’s on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean islands. In today’s world we still find cheap labor to be profitable–remember all those McDonald’s workers that protested for $15 per hour.
In 1624, the Dutch brought slaves to the New World and established colonies in New York and Pennsylvania. Citizens from several European countries came to this colony as well as African slaves. The Dutch were involved in transporting slaves from Africa across the Atlantic ocean.
The French owned that part of America known as The Louisiana Purchase which France sold to the United States in 1803. The French introduced slavery into what is now known as the state of Louisiana in 1706 when they enslaved Native Americans. African slaves were introduced by the French in 1710. Louisiana had quite a few sugar plantations.
The first slaves came to the British colony of Jamestown, now in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 1619. In 1698 the British Parliament made slavery legal for all British citizens. The British bought African slaves, who were prisoners of war, from their chiefs. Slavery was practiced by Africans in Africa.
Franklin and Armfield Slave Office, which was organized in 1828, was the largest slave traders in the United States.
Slavery was not just a Southern institution. Slaves were also used in the Northern States. It is interesting to note that President Abraham Lincoln did not free any of the slaves in the states that did not secede the union. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the states that seceded from the Union.
"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."
Did Lincoln really have the authority to free slaves in the Confederate States of America, a separate county with its own constitution? Article 1 of the Confederate States constitution prohibits the importation of African slaves from foreign countries and also from any state not part of the CSA.
Long before the Boston Tea Party in 1773 or The Declaration of Independence in 1776, slavery was already an established institution in North American. Slavery wasn’t just an American institution. It was a world problem and an ancient problem. The book of Exodus tells us the story of how the Jewish slaves were freed from the Egyptians by Moses. Exodus is estimated to have been written between c.1450-1410 B.C.
Whites were not the only ones to own slaves. Blacks were also slave owners. Anthony Johnson arrived in Virginia in 1621 on an Arab slave ship. He was sold as an indentured servant. After 1635, Anthony obtained his freedom and with his wife, Mary, he moved to his own 250 acre farm. In 1640, Johnson bought the contract of John Casor, a black man, who later became a servant for life. Johnson also had 4 white indentured servants.
For Further Reading
“all men are created equal…” – Part 4
Mississippi flag; photo by Richard Threlkeld on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).
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