The First “African” Slaves Arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, Aug. 20, 1619

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My messy desk…studying my history

“A Dutch ship carrying 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, on Aug. 20, 1619, a voyage that would mark the beginning of slavery in the American colonies. The number of slaves continued to grow between the 17th and 18th centuries, as slave labor was used to help fuel the growing tobacco and cotton industries in the southern states. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, some 4 million slaves were set free. However, racial inequalities and violence toward newly freed slaves would persist in the country throughout the 1860s and 1870s.”

– Source, BET National News

“The arrival of the “20 and odd” African captives aboard a Dutch “man of war” ship on this day (August 20) in the year 1619 historically marks the early planting of the seeds of the American slave trade.” (Benjamin Banneker also challenged Slavery In Letter On This Day In 1791)

Source, Ioned Chandler, Newsone

“Today in 1619, it was reported by English tobacco farmer John Rolfe, husband of famed Indian princess Pocahontas, that “20 and odd” African slaves arrived at the Jamestown Settlement in British colonial North America aboard a Dutch man-of-war ship. The ship had originated in the Portuguese colonies of present-day Angola, which had been established in the 1500s. Angola was a heavy exporter of slaves to Brazil and the Spanish colonies.”

Source, Infobox

“Newly established English colonies in North America create a demand for laborers in the New World. At first, captured Africans are brought to the colonies as indentured servants. Once their term (3-7 years) is completed, indentured servants are allowed to live free, own land, and have indentured servants of their own. However, this system does not last long; indentured servitude gives way to lifetime slavery for Africans as the British colonies grow and the need for a permanent, inexpensive labor force increases”

Source, This Far by faith

“The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented “20-and-odd” slaves arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on the North American shores. Soon afterwards, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would become a vast empire connecting three continents. Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions—American, French and Haitian—would mean for African Americans, and for slavery in America.”

Source, The Black Atlantic, episode one of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 

“In terms of African involvement, it is true also that Africans enslaved others before the coming and demands of the European. But three other facts must be added to this statement to give a holistic picture.. African enslavement was in no way like European enslavement. It was servitude which usually occurred “through conquest, capture in war or punishment for a crime” (Davidson, 1968:181). It could also resemble serfdom as in Medieval Europe where peasants were tied to the land and a lord for protection. They often lived as members of the family, married their masters daughters and rose to political and economic prominence and did not face the brutality and dehumanization which defined European chattel slavery.”

Source, Introduction to Black Studies, Ch. 4: The Holocaust of Enslavement

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6 thoughts on “The First “African” Slaves Arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, Aug. 20, 1619

  1. Pingback: The First “African” Slaves Arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, Aug. 20, 1619 | Campbells World

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