Slavery in the United States from the very beginning.Slavery and all its sadness came to the New World Colonies very slowly, and at Jamestown around 1619. A Dutch Slave ship blown off course traded 19 slaves for food and water at Jamestown. It is not clear how long these first few slaves lived but as will be explained later, many people free or slave was dieing almost as fast as they could get to Jamestown. Slavery was not imported in great numbers nor did it come in an instant flash. In fact one of the first slave owners was an indentured slave himself and that is how he got here. Born in Angola, he called himself Antonio as he was brought to Jamestown by a ship for Portugal, around 1620. And he was of course sold to the highest bidder. We don?t have the name of the person who bought him, but as was the custom after the service time was completed, Antonio was given some help to get him on his feet. Part of what Antonio was given was land. This African did not sit around long and by 1630 had indentured slaves working his lands. Then in 1640, slavery full time was still uncommon, he went to court and sued the government at Williamsburg for his indentured slave. His claim was that he was an ex-African and his indentured slave was an ex-African so that the English laws of the colony did not really apply to them. The courts agreed with him and Antonio?s indentured slave became a full time slave. Antonio also went to court and had his name changed to fit his surroundings. He changed his name to Anthony Johnston and would end up a person who was very well off .
In Virginia, indentured slavery or slavery was a rough life. But slaves were not as cheap as the indentured type so those who were indenture also face the hardest work and the deadliest of jobs. Around 1618 or so the Jamestown Colony was not doing well and there were few ladies there. It was so bad that the people were thinking about closing down the colony. And then a number of ships arrived in which were a number of indentured slaves and fresh supplies and a few more ladies. The population of Jamestown was around 600 people at the time. Between 1618 and 1624, about 1200 indentured slaves were brought to the colony and at the end of that time the population had grown to about 850 people and their slaves.
Understand this about indenture slavery. You have more then likely heard it called service or servitude. But this far for the fact of how you were treated until your time was over. You could be in servitude/slavery for up to 24 years. If you were a female you could be raped by your "owner" and you had no recourse in court. You could not bring up charges and you had no rights. You were a slave. As a female, who became pregnant, two more years was added to the service time and the child was to be "cared for" by the master until the child was 21 or 24 years of age. Male indentured slaves were housed where ever they could be housed as a slave was housed, and treated at the master will. Many want to call them all servants because most indentured slaves were white, and it makes a difference between the races. But a person with no rights who is totally controlled by another person, is a slave. The only difference is, if you lived, you had a time that you would not longer could be held against your will. But if you were dead as is the case of many at Jamestown, that release date no longer mattered since the "servant" was in the ground. There is no other words for it, but slave.
One of the problems with this slow growth in the South was the people themselves and what they did to make a living. Those who were growing crops (about 90% of the people) were growing tobacco and using every bit of land they had for the crop. It made a nice profit and the demand in Europe was growing every day someone new picked up a pipe. They grew the tobacco instead of food, and were starving half the time. They depended on the natives for food which they got with the imported junk that was manufactured cheaply in England and could be traded with the natives or for slaves out of Africa. As time passed and the colony grew, the demand for cheap labor grew as well. Cheap labor in the South did not come from Europe, it was imported from Africa in the form of slaves.
Georgia, one of the last of the colonies founded, was one of the first to ban slavery, at least for the first 20 years. Georgia was set up and ran by G. Oglethorpe, who was the 3rd son of an Earl. He would not get a title or an estate so he ask to go to the new world and get an estate of his own and founded the colony with the King?s blessings. The colony would be set up to take in those from debtors prison. In Europe with the lingering of the dark ages still hanging over the land, the serfs though now free, were still tied to the land and to some Lord or Earl or Baron. They had to work that land and pay taxes on what they produced with what they produced. Since the Southern colonies were set up and ran by the upper class of England, the South was a repeat of what was going on in England . Where as the Northern colonies were set up by those Pilgrims (middle income/class) who set the colony up like middle income England with a town center "commons" with pub, merchants, town hall, and church around the commons area.
With these two types of colonies the average person who wanted to come to the colonies could pick and would choose the Northern over Southern colonies. They would be thinking something along these lines. "Let's see, I can go south and work on someones estate like I do here, or go north and take my chances with getting work doing something else and/or getting some land of my own somewhere on the edge of the colony." Many chose the latter then the former. (Note: Also in Europe, land ownership was left to the noble or upper income class people. So becoming a land owner gave you a raise in your place in the social structure. And since noble titles were no used in the new world, gentry became common for land owner class. It is about this time, "A mans home is his castle." became understandable.)
So with the two South or North to draw them across the water many chose the North, and therefore the debtor prison released people were not given much to choose from. They were sent to Georgia. That being the case, for the first twenty years the lack of cheap labor was not a problem in that colony. When the debtor prisons dried up, slavery was voted in to get cheap labor into the colony as was the case in most of the South. In the North with a short growing season and hill to mountains for the landscape and lots of people coming to the colonies, cheap labor was not a problem. But each colony did have slavery. Along the coast in the Northern colonies, labor on ships was the major cost of running a ship. If you had a few slaves that would cut that cost and many of the ships, even those involved in the slave trade carried a number of crew members who were slaves. (On Paul?s ride to warn about the British coming, along the road were he was to take the next left were the sun bleached bones of a slave that had been hung by his sea faring owner for being rebellious.)
So slavery came to the colonies by the Dutch and those from Portugal first. Then the English and Colonist got into the trade as well and took it over with the passing of years. With the colonies in North America the trade center became Hartford, Conn. And stayed there until the War of 1812. The trade was known for is profit making going and coming. Cheap items were sold to the native slave traders, who traded slave for trinkets or rum. The slaves were then carried to the market in the new world, and in the case of the U.S. the bigger markets of New Orleans, Charleston, Washington DC, and New York. The last two were something of a special trip. Most were delivered to the Caribbean Sea or to the South were the ships would pick up sugar cane. That sugar cane was taken to the North and was turned into rum. Half of the rum was sold on the market for a profit and the other half put abord ship to trade for more slaves. A slave ship would not make much money on buying the slaves, but on the sale of the slaves would earn a very big profit. Many slaves sold in the early period before the American Revolution sold for around $200.00 and the price would rise to around $400.00. After the Revolution that price went up to the point around $800.00 to $1000.00 in 1860. Any slave with a trade, such as brick layer or blacksmith would bring a price of $1,500.00 or more if the bidding was heavy. The price in Africa, could be as cheap as 6 barrels (gal.) of rum. One ship left port with a reported 1,700 gals of rum.
That is one of the reasons the North stayed in the slave trade up to and after the War Between the States. The last U.S. owned slave ship delivered slaves to Brazil in 1880, 15 years after Robert E. Lee gave up the fight and surrendered to Grant, in 1865.
In the Carolinas slavery came in to being by importation from the islands of the Jamaica and the regular slave trade. The Jamaica slave brought the task system with them and it made the costal area of the Carolinas productive. The Task system was where each slave had a job to do for the day. If he completed it in 10 minutes, he was through for the day. He could go fishing, hunting, work in his own garden that he planted in front of his slave cabin, tend his own livestock, or do nothing. Many grew enough food to sell to the "Big House" (where the master lived) and with the money he got things he wanted. In time some of the slave wives were better dressed then the Master's wife. They rode horses to church on Sunday and looked down on any slave that walked for being to lazy to work and better themselves. A "dig" on one of the plantations back in the 1990?s revealed that many of the slaves had old firearms with which to hunt. As cap and ball came into popular use, the flint locks that were old were given to a number of the most trusted slaves. That trust and bond was never broken, even when Nat Turner revolted. And don't misunderstand, I am not saying faithful slave, I am saying honorable slave.
It was reported by one Northerner visiting in the South at a slave was reported to have ran away. The master and his guest were having brunch when the news was brought that so and so slave was not found this morning. When the visitor asked if the master was he going to chase after the runaway slave, the man replied, "Why should I, have his 2 horses, 4 cows, a number of pigs, and all of his chickens in my barnyard. He will be back, he has just gone off for a while." One slave who returned to his master came up and said, "Hell-o Master," The master replied and the slave then said, "Master meet Jim, Jim this is your master. Good bye, Master." It appears that the slave had made enough money to buy a slave to replace himself with another.
In this area of the Task System they grew rice, sugar cane, and dyes, Cotton became a crop only after the cotton gin was invented. That changed the South a great deal. Lots flat land with a long growing season, and a late frost could allowed the growth of at least two crops per year, one summer and one winter. Cotton and Tobacco both cash crops were labor necessary. You almost had to have one person for every two rows of tobacco, and the same could be said for cotton. Cheap labor was the key to becoming wealthy in the South. And Europe was not furnishing enough of it at any time except in early Georgia.
Penn, and others. The middle colonies were strange in the fact that many people who came there did not want slaves but they ended up with them anyway. Many Quackers, Germans, Dutch, and other religious free thinkers who were either against slavery, or not interested in any way or form of having slavery around still had them around.
New York, had slaves, in my view just because they could. But by the early 1800? many of the slaves were gone and only a memory in the colony. Yet, in 1850 there were still 3 slaves in the state, but they were on their way out, or on the way to freedom. Again, there are many reasons the South need slaves, and it is real clear that the North did not need them. It has been said, one of the main reasons slavery died in the North was they had no way of making money by using the slave. Where they could still make money was in the slave trade. And the Northern ships owner stayed in the trade after the importing of slaves was banned, but they still in many cases docked in a Southern port and unloaded their cargo.
Around 1807 slave importing was banned in the U.S. Then came the War of 1812 which cause a large amount of problems for the Northern shipping firms. After the war, the slave trade center moved from Hartford to New York City. Many of the ship owners had their ships registration as being from another port and country. They flew the flags of other countries but was attached to no other place but the United States. There is a picture taken of a port view in the South in the 1850's, with slaves being unloaded. The ship had Boston on the stern of the craft in plain view, but which flag it flew is anyone's guess. By the late 1840's and early 1850's there were states wanting to have slave importation legalized again. I do not know why. Ships were coming into some Southern ports with no problems at all, unloading their human cargo and reloading with the sugar cane or cotton they would sell in their Northern port.
On one account written by a Northerner who was visiting the South they spoke of the African women coming down the gang plank topless. They spoke about the shame that they thought these ladies felt. But that was far from the fact. Because that is how those ladies dressed in Africa until the 1930's and in some cases almost the 1950's. And others reported on whips being use in the South and whippings. One Northerner reported to have heard the whip but never saw a person whipped. Fredrick Douglas said that his mother was whipped, but I haven't gotten around to reading why. All the reports of whipping I have seen were when a rule/law was broken. Thief or vandalism was punished just like it is today with some form of punishment. But you can go back to Anthony Johnson and the laws were not applied to him because he was not English, and so it came down that the slave was to be teated different. According to a Pitsburg Catholic newspaper one "freeman" stabbed another in a fight for something (was not explained in the newspaper) and the stabber was sentenced to 1200 lashes of the whip. Of course that would kill the man, but that is the justice system of the day. The whip was used in the North or so it seems.
Slavery became a blot on the land as the country was formed due to the thinking of our leaders. And to top it off we had to start it with a myth. When you think of your life, tell me if you can, who you are equal to? That person, do they have as much money or more money then you? Are they taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, better looking, less attractive, happier, or less happy then you? Can they run faster, slower, older, younger, more hair, less hair then you? Then are you equal? In IQ there are people who are smarter than myself and then there are those who do not think at all. The point is that the only place someone can be equal is in a court of law, and here in the recent past seems like those who can afford a good lawyer is more equal the others., O.J. Simpson for example. Anyone can fake putting on a glove or not putting on a glove, because all you have to do is spread your fingers. And just to cover my bases so that people will not say I am racist, Robert Blake got off due to no witness to the shootings. His lawyers got him off of the charges.
So this equal thing will get us into more trouble then anything else, because we can not please everyone and we can not help everyone and we can not cure all the evils of social structure. If the world and all the people that were in it were equal, the world would be a very dull place to live and people would be jumping off of the Golden Gate just to get out of it. Just think, your just as good looking as I am. Your just as rich, your just as thick or thin as I am. And you are no smarter then I am. That would mean if you called me a name, you would be one as well because we are all equal! Those written words are a beautiful bunch of words, but it is a problem in this country, and a make believe world that is anywhere near here or what could be. Problem is they did not start the paper with "Once,long long time ago, in a land far far away...."
One of the myths about slavery is that Jim Crow Laws were something that the South made up to put the Black man into his place and keep him there after the war. Jim Crow for the most part came from Black codes as they were called before the war. There were "Black Codes" in the North as well as the South. Any slave who wanted to come into the land of Lincoln in the 1840?s had to prove they were not being brought there to be freed. If they were freed they had to leave or they had so long before the state would step in and sell them South. In most of the Northern states there were laws to keep the Black man out. In Illinois there were 700 "freemen" in 1860 while in Virginia there were 53,000 "freemen" with the same laws in effect. But in the latter the law was being over looked.
Many slaves became part of the family and when you toured the South in the early 1900's you would find a number of people with Afro-American families living with their former masters still. One man I worked with told me that in the early 1930?s he visited his grand father near Bastrop, Texas. His grand father had 3 Afro-American families living on the farm with him. They were all that was left of the 5 families that left with his grand father when he left Georgian in 1865, because there was nothing left for him there after the war. There is a report of a slave who went off to war with three brothers. And they stayed together for the course of the complete war. After the war the three white ?brothers? went to the bank and got their former slave, their Black brother, a loan so that the four men could farm land next to each other at a junction of two Texas state roads. Each one had a corner of that junction. Lucy Peckins had a servant (slave) who was with her, her entire life. When Lucy had her one baby the slave took care of the child. When the child died much later in life both ladies wept like they had both lost their only child. And both ladies, Lucinda and Lucy died within about three days of each other in the late 1800?s. Even though Lucinda had gotten married and live somewhere else, she spent many nights with her former mistress.
There are people out there who do not believe that there was such thing as a Black Confederate. According to a Union Doctor who watched Longstreet's Corps march out of Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1862, said that., "5% of the Corps was colored." In the book written on the last reunion of the Southern armies in 1932, the Richmond newspaper reported on the event, (the complete book was the news reports on the event) included about 15-18 Black men. One who lived in Macon, Ga. and was 104 years old. Now remember most of the people from those forces were dead. Here is a man that lives in second class citizenship and may not have had a great deal of money, but the pictures of him in Richmond show his ribbons pinned on his coat with pride for the other reunions attended. So money was spent and he traveled to be there, even in the racist social structure of the day, to be with men who were suppose to have hated him and were suppose to be burning crosses in his front yard. So there were Black rebels, and proud of it.
Just on a personal note: I used the "colored" only water fountain at the bus station in my home town and the sign came down. I was not using it for race problems, I used it because it was about 100 degrees outside and I had about a half mile to go to get home and I was wanting a drink. Three buses had pulled into the bus station and there were almost 20 people standing in line to drink from the "white only" fountain. So I drank out of the "colored fountain" and when told by a kid in line that it was for the "colors" my reply was something like, "So...the color dose not rub off." I reached behind me, took the sign off and threw it on the floor. And asked, "Now what is it?" The next time I stopped by to play the pin ball machine and get a coke. The "color only" sign was gone. But the "color only" sign at the county court house came down later. That water fountain is still standing by the court house out under a tree, or was the last time I was there. So I do know a bit about the divided South.
What will get more people more upset is that there were also Black slave owners. Throughout the South, many slaves were owned by someone like their wife or husband to keep the slave codes from going into effect and they be sold back into slavery. But then you do have those like Anthony Johnson who would end up owning more then one or two slaves. In the area around Charleston, S.C., in 1850, there were 266 Blacks who owned 1087 slaves. That is about 4 to one ratio. That number drops ten years later for reason unknown. It may be that the whites began to clamp down on those who owned one slaves and told them that the slave was either free or slave, and forced them to leave the state. They say that Charleston itself had a large population of people from Africa and about the same number as whites. During the summer the whites from around the area of the city would come and live in town to avoid the yellow fever season which struck the low lands around the city and the swamps. That made the summer a party season for the gentry and one which the people would meet and greet each other. In the winter the summer house was closed up and watched over by a couple of servants left in the city. If the master would come to town to take care of business, and the upstairs maid was often a heating blanket for the master. When the master died he often freed the upstairs maid and gave her a slave of her own. Many times it was the man she had jumped the broom with, i.e., married. By 1860 they say that 60% of the full time residents of Charleston who owned slaves were Black females. Many of the most successful Black slave owners were female.
The males were just as successful if they put their mind to it. One of the three Afro-American units formed in New Orleans in 1861 required that the members had to prove that they made more then $10,000.00 a year. Now where and how in a slave society of the South do you think a Black man made that much money on his own? It is quiet possible that they were owners of more then just a few slaves themselves. Remember that at Walden Pond the man said he had lived on less then $20.00 for the year. Just think that within 20 years of doing that there would be this war and Black men formed a military unit in New Orleans that they had to earn $10,000.00 just to be a member. In 1860, $5.00 dollars is equal to $1,100.00 dollars in the year 2000.
Many people have looked at the slave narratives taken by the WPA project in the 1930's and saying that these people were mostly saying what they thought the people wanted to hear. I know some of that may have happened, but how much. When a person says, "I tell you true, that such and such happened." Why would you doubt that? Just because it did not fit your viewpoint? Many of these people didn't know each other, were miles apart, didn't talk to each other but reported the same things. So, I think I believe the the ex-slave more then those who say don't believe. Who died and made them god to throw away the words of the people who were there? I think we need to take a second look and get what we can of fact from them. To much, to often people will not write down things they do not agree with. And for no other reason then it does not fit their picture they have painted in their heads. And I call it bad history.
When I read those words, what I took in to account was that many of these old people were living in shacks, with little or no clothing, energy (lights, water, and gas), and were pressed for food as well. One woman stated "If I could have my old master back, I would welcome slavery back. We had no responsibilities back then." She was hungry and her family was scattered over the country had lost touch, and many had passed away. She was alone. That is who my heart goes out to, in this story. People who were forced to be here, then turned out when they were not even ready for even the Second class citizenship that their children's, children would have. Better then slavery maybe, but dieing without any hope of a better tomorrow leaves me cold. And yes they did talk with a slang which made them sound stupid. But the Afro-American was not anywhere near being stupid.
According to the Houston paper (1865) there was one Afro-American who sold himself back into slavery at the start of the war. When asked in 1865 why he did such a thing he said, "I knew the South was not as strong as the North and would lose the war." So for 4 years he had a job, food, a roof over his head , and clothing without being out one penny. And he got the money they paid for him, which should have been somewhere around $800.00. That is about 8 times more then if he had just gotten a job and worked as a free man. And he had all those things he did not have to pay for during that time which saved even more money. That is just down right smart, and thinking outside the box. I would say genius.
Every place I have looked, I have found strength, thoughtfulness, human caring, good ideas, brave actions, and cunning. Stupid, no, different from how I do things, yes. That may be the why of the thinking. Another clue maybe that in the 1830's Dr. Samuel G. Morton of Philadelphia claimed after study of 220 skulls, the brain capacity of the African was smaller then the white and was therefore inferior. Doctor Rush, another doctor from the "City of Brotherly Love" stated it was his belief that Blacks were inferior and get their skin color due to a strain of Leprosy. Doctor Rush, is a signer or the Declaration of Independence. Then was at Harvard professor Dr. Louis Agassiz who followed Dr. Morton's lead and claimed that Morton was right. Yet, to top it all off was Josiah Nott, who studied at the University of Pennsylvania, He was the first to believe that a bug, he I.D.ed the mosquito, as the cause Yellow Fever, and was a Darwin evolutionist even before Darwin wrote his findings. He worked with Agassiz on a treatise that claimed that the African was not a human being but a different species.
In one of the studies, of this pre-war science, showed that Blacks living in the North were more apt to be more mentally imbalanced then those in the South. Blacks in the South that had mental problems were 1 of 1,558, while going North the rate in Maine was 1 out of 14. This again, like the Black codes, may have been out of the bias beliefs of people trying to keep the Black man in the South and out of their white lives. Lincoln even was subject to this thinking when in his debates with Mr. Douglas he states, that he like "the rest" of the whites in his state "wanted the superior position assigned to the white race." He "observed" that the races we were so different they would not be able to live together as equals. That may or may not have changed in his mind, but he knew that the Black man was also to numerous to ship elsewhere which he had first put forth. The next time this sort of study would be done would be over the difference of Jews and Aryans, in 1930?s.
From what the Georgia Slaves reported we get this as the picture of the larger plantations. Each person was given new home spun clothes twice each year, one for summer and one for winter. The shoes were folded over leather sewen together and made like a slip on. The shirt was homespun cotton or a coat of wool was made there on site. The ladies and children (boys included below the age of 12) were dressed in a pull over dress that reached the floor. After the age of 12 the males got pants and went to work. Little children stay in the sewing area to help there if they could and work went on there all year around. Those that worked there watched the children. The house staff worked most of the morning under the main cook at the direction of the mistress of the house. The men were up before sun up and dressed, had a small breakfast, and were in the fields by sun up. At dusk they would return. Lunch was made and delivered to the fields by the older children.
On the plantation was pigs, cattle, chickens, and a garden for fresh veggies, and maybe a peach tree or some other fruit tree. These gardens were worked by older slaves who could not work in the fields any longer but could still do some labor. They grew corn, squash, beans, peas, and other crops that would be consumed by the master and the slaves. In the late fall pigs would be killed for the year. Most of meat was smoked or turned into some sort of dried meat. Other meats were also smoked in a smoke house which was subject to a late night robbery ever so often. The slave would help themselves, without permission. If caught it could be problems. Jumping the broom was getting married, and the courtship is a complete story of its on. All I will say is that many "married" were not on the same plantation. And those slaves were allowed to visit once or twice a week. To travel to another plantation the slave would need a pass. And if caught by the local law force without their pass they would get a lash of two from the men who may or may not been slave owners. This punishment was given by this "law" enforcement group not the plantation owner.
Mr T. Stevens, the VP of the CSA had a number of neighbors who complained about his slaves walking around the country without passes. The white plantation owners needed passes to get into towns and other Confederate places but these slaves were walking all around the country when they were not working. So it appears that it depended on the master and how powerful they were in the culture as to weather the slaves had some freedoms or not. From what the slaves reported there was always something to eat, fresh food, clothes, and work. Many people today do not even have that, but they are free. One of the glaring things is that they stated that whippings were not going on at their plantation but they heard that on other plantations the whip was used. But then there is just that rumor. I am sure that the whip was used on some plantations, but then if the slave hated the master, how do you really get the slave to work and do what the master needed to be done.
The Jews in WWII may have worked for the Germans but they did many things that caused the German war machine problems. There are not a large amount of records showing what the slave did cause much damage. Maybe I haven't gotten to the information at this point. I do know that cotton was grown, tobacco was grown, and both were consumed by the world. Lowell, Mass. every year would consume 300,000 bales of cotton each year. There was not much complaint for Lowell about who grew, picked, baled, and loaded the ship. And they got the stuff every year. There was one major problem, the Black man was still a slave.