By the early 1600s, England was eager to gain a colonial foothold on the North American continent. The first enduring settlement was founded at Jamestown in Virginia in 1607. Colonies in Massachusetts and elsewhere up and down the eastern seaboard were settled as the century progressed. The English settlers had occasionally friendly relations with the native "Indians" of these lands, but for the most part, the interaction between the two turned hostile. Labor to clear the forests, tend the plantations and farms, and work in the developing seafaring industry became a crucial concern.
From 1619 on, not long after the first settlement, the need for colonial labor was bolstered by the importation of African captives. At first, like their poor English counterparts, the Africans were treated as indentured servants, who would be freed of their obligations to their owners after serving for several years. However, over the course of the century, a new race-based slavery system developed, and by the dawn of the new century, the majority of Africans and African Americans were slaves for life.
Control over the captive population became a significant issue for whites as rebellion and fear of rebellion spread.
Map "Rollover" Information
1619: A Dutch ship brings the first permanent African settlers to Jamestown. Africans soon are put to work on tobacco plantations.
1663: A Virginia court decides that a child born to a slave mother is also a slave.
1705: The General Assembly declares imported servants who were not Christians in their native lands slaves, and all negro, mulatto, and Indian slaves property.
1641: Massachusetts becomes the first colony to recognize slavery as a legal institution.
The Middle Passage:
1680: The Royal African company transports 5000 African captives annually. By the 18th century, 45,000 Africans are transported annually on British ships.
1700s: Almost half of the slaves coming to North America arrive in Charleston. Many stay in South Carolina to work on rice plantations.
1739: The Stono rebellion breaks out around Charleston; over 20 whites are killed by Jemmy and his band.
1741: Fires break out in New York City, which has the second-largest urban population of blacks. Numerous blacks are accused and executed in a witch-hunt atmosphere.
1750: Georgia is the last of the British North American colonies to legalize slavery.
Part 1 Narrative:
Map: The British Colonies
Europeans Come to Western Africa
New World Exploration and English Ambition
From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery
The African Slave Trade and the Middle Passage
The Growth of Slavery in North America
Part 1: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide
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