Slavery in North Carolina

History of Slavery in North Carolina Image: Illustration shows white children playing with a black child, and “represents the old Negro servants of the planter’s family among his children. The children of the [white] family grow up among the Negro domestic servants, and often learn to regard them with as much affection as they show their own parents.” Source: The Illustrated London News Many of the first slaves in North Carolina were brought to the colony from the West Indies or other surrounding colonies, but a significant number were brought from Africa. Most of the English colonists arrived as indentrued servants, hiring themselves out as laborers for a fixed period to pay for their passage. In the early years the…

Read Article

Slavery in Pennsylvania

History of Slavery in Pennsylvania In the early 1600s, the Delaware Valley was an outlying region of the New Netherland Colony on the Hudson River. It was governed by the Dutch West India Company and populated by Dutch and Swedes more interested in fur trapping than farming. It faced the same labor shortage that plagued New Netherland, and it found the same solution. African slaves were working there as early as 1639. In 1664, the Delaware settlers contracted the West India Company “to transport hither a lot of Negroes for agricultural purposes.” The demand for slaves continued when the English assumed rule that same year. The town magistrates of New Castle, then the major settlement in the region, petitioned “that…

Read Article

Slavery in Maryland

History of Slavery in Maryland Maryland’s history as a slaveholding state was unique. Few land holdings in the state would have rated the name of plantation in the eyes of slaveholders from the Southern States, because the average number of enslaved persons owned by each slaveholder in Maryland was only three. Founding of Maryland Maryland developed from a tract of country belonging to the original grant of Virginia. George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, was looking for land with a similar climate to that of England on which to establish his new colony. He put his sights on obtaining land in Virginia, parts of which had already been colonized.

Slavery in Delaware

Colonial Delaware Delaware began as New Sweden, an abortive attempt by the Swedes to found a colony on the shores of Delaware Bay in the New World. There were few immigrants, and the colony suffered from a chronic shortage of manpower. It had only 183 residents by 1647. The Swedes also tried to join the rush by European powers to get footholds in West Africa to gain access to gold and slaves, but they were soon driven out by more aggressive European powers. The Swedes turned to Indian slaves when they could get them, but disease and westward migration had already emptied the region of native tribes. Still, a few Indian slaves persisted in Delaware until the 1720s, and the…

Read Article

Slavery in Virginia

History of Slavery in Virginia Image: In the Richmond Slave Market Beginning with the arrival of the first Africans in Jamestown in 1619, a system of hereditary bondage for blacks gradually developed. Over the course of 150 years, slavery became entrenched in Virginia society, increasingly supported by a series of restrictive laws. Slavery was the foundation of Virginia’s agricultural system and essential to its economic viability. To attract settlers, English citizens were offered land if they came to the new colony as indentured servants, and planters relied on these servants to harvest their tobacco. But once the servants had served their terms of indenture – usually seven years – they became free men and women, and were given fifty acres…

Read Article

Slavery in New Netherland

The Rise of Slavery Image: First Slave Auction New Netherland in 1655 Slavery under Dutch Rule Slavery began in New Netherland as it did in other colonies, because there was an acute labor shortage. Even imported white indentured servants, who contracted to serve for a certain period of time were hard to obtain. The alternative for the farmer or the large householder was to purchase slaves. In 1626, a ship carrying 11 male slaves sailed into the harbor at New Amsterdam. Only four of the names of the first slaves in New York are known for certain: Paul d’Angola, Simon Congo, Anthony Portuguese, and John Francisco. Their names indicate that they were probably taken from Spanish or Portuguese slave ships…

Read Article

Slavery in New Jersey

Chattel Slavery Slavery was introduced into the colony of New Jersey in the 17th century, shortly after the Dutch first settled in the colony. The colonial system of slavery was a labor system known as chattel slavery, in which the slave was the personal property of his or her owner for life. Men and women brought from Africa, either directly or by way of the Caribbean Islands, were enslaved under this system. Children born to slave women were the property of their mother’s owner, and became slaves for life.

Slavery in New York

1664 through the American Revolution Image: British New York Manhattan Island Slavery in English New York When the British took control of New York in 1664, the Duke of York proclaimed that no Christian could be held in slavery. This rule, and the principle behind it, became an issue later, when enslaved blacks wanted to convert to Christianity. The British were far harsher toward slaves than the Dutch had been. They eliminated most of the pathways to freedom and passed laws that greatly limited what enslaved people could do, whom they could gather with, and when they could be out on the streets. Many of these laws were rewritten often, suggesting that they did not work very well.

Slavery in New Amsterdam

The Years: 1625 through 1664 Image: New Amsterdam Map Dutch New Amsterdam In 1624, the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) began settling the colony of New Netherland, the territory granted to the Dutch West India Company in 1621 by the government of Holland. It stretched from Manhattan to Albany along both sides of the Hudson River, and eventually included the areas now known as New York and New Jersey, and parts of Delaware and Connecticut. This colony was set up as a business, and its main goal was to make money for the DWIC by trading beaver pelts and other goods with Europe.

Dorothy Creole

Slave in New Amsterdam Dorothy Creole was one of the first black women in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam on the island of Manhattan. She was African, but she came from a world where West Africans and Europeans had been trading for two centuries and their cultures had mixed. She may have spoken Spanish or Portuguese, in addition to her African language. The name Creole may have begun as a descriptive term used by Europeans, and later developed into a surname. Dorothy might have arrived in 1627, when records indicate that three enslaved women were brought into New Amsterdam, which was little more than a muddy village with thirty wooden houses and a population of less than two hundred…

Read Article