America’s History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown


The arrival of the first captives to the Jamestown Colony, in 1619, is often seen as the beginning of slavery in America—but enslaved Africans arrived in North America as early as the 1500s.

In late August 1619, the White Lion, an English privateer commanded by John Jope, sailed into Point Comfort and dropped anchor in the James River. Virginia colonist John Rolfe documented the arrival of the ship and “20 and odd” Africans on board. His journal entry is immortalized in textbooks, with 1619 often used as a reference point for teaching the origins of slavery in America. But the history, it seems, is far more complicated than a single date.

It is believed the first Africans brought to the colony of Virginia, 400 years ago this month, were Kimbundu-speaking peoples from the kingdom of Ndongo, located in part of present-day Angola. Slave traders forced the captives to march several hundred miles to the coast to board the San Juan Bautista, one of at least 36 transatlantic Portuguese and Spanish slave ships.

For the complete article: history.com