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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Freedom began with Jenny Slew, A History of the beginning of the end of legal slavery in America: Part Two

Guinea Propria, Nec Non Nigritiae Vel Terrae Nigorum . . . Aethiopia Inferior . . . 1743
Ideally, genealogical research should be well-grounded in history. There is a major movement to encourage contributors to online family trees to support their entries with specific citations to historical documents. Notwithstanding that effort, many genealogical conclusions in online family trees are lacking in historical authenticity. In addition, some genealogists and even historians accept superficial, traditional conclusions rather than questioning easily found but inaccurate information. The history of slavery in America is rife with unsupported and inaccurate generally quoted historical facts which are not historical or factual and, in some cases, have become quasi-mythological.

One of these quasi-myths is that slavery dates the arrival of the first African enslaved people in America in 1619 in Jamestown, now in the state of Virginia. The actual date is more accurately around 1502 when Juan de  C√≥rdoba sent several of his black slaves from Spain to Hispaniola. See

7. Slave Trade, Exploration, American Beginnings: 1492-1690, Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature, Toolbox Library, National Humanities Center.” Accessed November 11, 2019. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/amerbegin/exploration/text7/text7read.htm.

There are well over four centuries of the history of African slavery in America up to when Brazil finally abolished slavery in 1888. You can see from this fact alone that the other commonly repeated myth, that it is impossible to do genealogical research about African Americans before about 1870 is also false. Some of the ancestral lines of the originally enslaved people in America are difficult to research and others are not any more difficult than other people who came to America as servants, slaves, indentured servants and in other capacities. The main challenge for genealogists has been the general lack of specific vital records and other similar and easily located public documents. It is, therefore, necessary to rely on probate records and other less available and more difficult to use documents.

Slavery, as an institution, dates back into prehistoric times in many parts of the world. Ancient records, including the Bible, talk about slavery and the European countries began dealing in slaves. By the time of the U.S. Civil war in the 1860s, slavery had existed in both North and South America for about 300 years.  African enslaved people were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese as early as 1501. The usually quoted date for the beginnings of slavery in North America is 1619 but that is really the date of the first English enslaved people. The Spanish brought slaves to North America beginning as early as 1526. For more commentary, see the following:

Ponti, Crystal. “America’s History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown.” HISTORY. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/american-slavery-before-jamestown-1619.

“The African Slave Trade and Slave Life | Brazil: Five Centuries of Change.” Accessed November 16, 2019. https://library.brown.edu/create/fivecenturiesofchange/chapters/chapter-2/african-slavery/.

Another commonly repeated myth is that slavery, itself, was never widespread in the northern part of what is now the United States. In fact, the Southern plantation pattern of slavery usually depicted in history books was a late development. From the very first settlements, slavery was a part of colonial life in the Northern States. By the early 1800s, tens of thousands of enslaved people were living in Northern towns and cities. See the following:

Klein, Christopher. “Deeper Roots of Northern Slavery Unearthed.” HISTORY. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/deeper-roots-of-northern-slavery-unearthed.

The Chesapeake Bay was the gateway for the first Africans brought to the colonies. The much-quoted date of 1619 is when a Dutch slaving ship brought the first enslaved Africans to the Jamestown settlement.

However, it is not my purpose in writing this series to attempt a complete history of slavery in the world although such a work would be an interesting challenge. My focus will be on the development of the various laws of nations that were primarily involved in the Atlantic slave trade and the further development of those laws, particularly in the United States. As an initial illustration of the process, here is a brief list of the dates by country for the beginning and the end of slavery in the countries most involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade. It should be noted that various efforts to end slavery date back into antiquity.
  • Portugal: 1501 to 1818
  • The United Kingdom from about 1562 to 1808
  • France 1763 to 1794 then again in 1826 and abolished in 1833
  • Spain  from 1501 to approximately 1820
  • the Netherlands 1612 to 1872
  • The United States from 1776 to 1863 and 1865
These dates are approximate and the process of developing a slave trade and then abolishing it occurred over time and not on any one date. 

You can see from this list that the laws concerning the Atlantic Slave Trade will cover more than three hundred years. I also intend to further discuss the development of the civil rights laws in the United States from the end of slavery to the present. 

Read the previous post:

Part One: https://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2019/11/freedom-began-with-jenny-slew-history.html

Cumulative Bibliography

“7. Slave Trade, Exploration, American Beginnings: 1492-1690, Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature, Toolbox Library, National Humanities Center.” Accessed November 11, 2019. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/amerbegin/exploration/text7/text7read.htm.

“41189.Jpg (2071×1800).” Accessed November 11, 2019. https://storage.googleapis.com/raremaps/img/xlarge/41189.jpg.

Adams, John, and Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: Diary, with Passages from an Autobiography. Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress, in 1775 and 1776. Autobiography. Little, Brown, 1865.

“Britain-and-the-Trade.Pdf.” Accessed November 16, 2019. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/slavery/pdf/britain-and-the-trade.pdf.

African Studies Centre Leiden. “Dutch Involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Abolition,” June 24, 2013. https://www.ascleiden.nl/content/webdossiers/dutch-involvement-transatlantic-slave-trade-and-abolition.

Ipswich, Historic. “The First Church Clock.” Historic Ipswich (blog), August 18, 2017. https://historicipswich.org/2017/08/18/the-first-church-clock/.

The U.S. National Archives. “John Whipple House - Ipswich, Massachusetts.” Image, January 1, 1935. https://nara.getarchive.net/media/john-whipple-house-ipswich-massachusetts-5d4b1f.

Klein, Christopher. “Deeper Roots of Northern Slavery Unearthed.” HISTORY. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/deeper-roots-of-northern-slavery-unearthed.

Moore, George Henry. Notes on the History of Slavery in Massachusetts. New York, D. Appleton & co., 1866. http://archive.org/details/notesonhistoryof00mo.

Ponti, Crystal. “America’s History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown.” HISTORY. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.history.com/news/american-slavery-before-jamestown-1619.

“Slavery in the British and French Caribbean.” In Wikipedia, November 7, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Slavery_in_the_British_and_French_Caribbean&oldid=924994971.

“Slavery in the Spanish New World Colonies.” In Wikipedia, November 15, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Slavery_in_the_Spanish_New_World_colonies&oldid=926292319.

“The African Slave Trade and Slave Life | Brazil: Five Centuries of Change.” Accessed November 16, 2019. https://library.brown.edu/create/fivecenturiesofchange/chapters/chapter-2/african-slavery/.

Smithsonian. “The Misguided Focus on 1619 as the Beginning of Slavery in the U.S. Damages Our Understanding of American History.” Accessed November 8, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/misguided-focus-1619-beginning-slavery-us-damages-our-understanding-american-history-180964873/.

“Timeline of Abolition of Slavery and Serfdom.” In Wikipedia, November 13, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom&oldid=925959805.

“Transatlantic Slave Trade | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” Accessed November 16, 2019. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/slave-route/transatlantic-slave-trade/.

“Unearthing the Human Stories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade – AAIHS.” Accessed November 8, 2019. https://www.aaihs.org/unearthing-the-human-stories-of-the-transatlantic-slave-trade/.

Wright, Donald R. African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins through the American Revolution, 2017.

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