Sunday, February 24, 2013

The First American Black Slave Owner...Was Black Himself!

I'd read before that in the early days of Jamestown, black slaves were brought in and sold...

According to Charles C. Mann, the author of 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, they continued to be used partly because of their heritage: thanks to their origin (mostly Africa), they were largely resistant to malaria -- one of the early colonists' great banes. (Not to mention mosquitoes. It's a fine book, by the way, like its predecessor, 1491 -- you should read it.)

I also knew that many of the first 'slaves' were actually indentured servants -- people who sold their time and effort for up to 7 years, in order to pay for their passage to the New World. Not only did individuals pledge themselves for this; they also indentured their families. And once they were freed, those people were given land, which they could use for their own. More family members, more land.
    (My own ancestor, Isaac Cumings, got to America this way, via the Sally Ann -- one of the ships which came not long after the Mayflower.)

Indentured servants came in all sorts of colors, white, black and 'yellow' (mulatto) alike. The first black 'slave' was actually an indentured servant whose master claimed he'd given his services for life. The master went to court to argue it...and won.

That master was black. Yes, the first American slaveowner was the same color as the man he enslaved. 

Makes you realize that people are people, the world around.

Read the full story here, thanks to Ben Kinchlow. 

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