Skip to comments.Some African Slave History: 1st Colonist to Own Slave for Life was Former Black Indentured Servant
Posted on 08/22/2012 2:53:52 PM PDT by maggiesnotebook
Slavery inside Africa was rampant long before Europeans began their infamous slave trade routes. Huge numbers of Africans were enslaved by Africans and when the slave went astray from his Black master's wishes, the punishment was beyond cruel and unusual. Islam bought and sold/provided slaves under the rule of Islamic law. No one in the early known histories of the planet is void of slavery of one type or the other. In the American colonies of the 1600s, the first slave-for-life as ruled by a court, was owned by a former Black indentured servant, brought here from Angola.
Photo: Anthony Johnson
Slavery has been rife throughout all of ancient history. Most, if not all, ancient civilizations practiced this institution and it is described (and defended) in early writings of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. It was also practiced by early societies in central America and Africa. (See Bernard Lewis's work Race and Slavery in the Middle East1 for a detailed chapter of the origins and practices of slavery.)Anthony Johnson was captured by slave traders in Angola. We do not know the color of the slave traders. He was sold as a slave to a White businessman in Virginia and worked in tobacco fields.
The Qur'an prescribes a humanitarian approach to slavery -- free men could not be enslaved, and those faithful to foreign religions could live as protected persons, dhimmis, under Muslim rule (as long as they maintained payment of taxes called Kharaj and Jizya). However, the spread of the Islamic Empire resulted in a much harsher interpretation of the law. For example, if a dhimmis was unable to pay the taxes they could be enslaved, and people from outside the borders of the Islamic Empire were considered an acceptable source of slaves. Source
At this time in the history of the American/British colonies, slavery was considered "indentured servitude." There was a contract, and after a period of time, the indentured servant was freed. That's what happened with Anthony (Antonio) Johnson. Johnson's owner released him, gave him a plot of land to farm, but before that happened, he married female slave, Mary, who worked on the same plantation. After about 14 years, both were freed and about 15 years later moved to Northhampton County, Virginia where Anthony Johnson became a successful businessman, eventually owning 500 acres and 5 "indentured servants." Two-hundred and fifty of his 500 acres came from a "headright" claim.
Johnson was sued by one of his indentured servants, John Casor, for being held in servitude beyond his contracted period. Casor lost the case and is documented as the first person in the colonies to be declared a "slave" by a court. In the lawsuit resolution, Johnson received Casor's servitude as a "servant for life (1653).
Johnson's life took many twists and turns but by 1665 he was living in Somerset County, Maryland where he started his tobacco farming business - named TORIES VINEYARDS.
Upon Johnson's death, his property was seized with a court allowing the seizure by determining that a freed Black man could not be a "citizen of the colony." His surviving family was allowed to keep some land. Eventually, his grandson lost it all by not paying taxes. Lesson: just because you have been a slave, doesn't mean you don't want a slave for yourself.
A practice it continues to this day.
But regarding Mr. Johnson, the first legally recognized slave master in the English colonies (if Obama had an great, great, great uncle, etc.) if he lived in the 17th Century why in this portrait is he wearing a 19th Century jacket and tie? Must be another "composite" figure.
Learn something every day. I was unaware they had photography in the 1600s.
If you're going to post a link making such a claim, you might want to actually post one about punishment of a black slave by a black master, rather than one about black slaves being punished by white Dutch colonists in South Africa.
My point was that Blacks enslaved Blacks.
Quite true. So why not link to a source that actually supports your point, rather than to a source about whites enslaving blacks inf Africa?
-——Learn something every day. I was unaware they had photography in the 1600s.-——
Looks like a picture of a portrait to me....
I’ve gone back and looked at my research, and see what you are saying. I had a couple of articles on Blacks selling Blacks and on Whites enslaved by Blacks. I found a museum article recounting the terrible condition of the slaves once the Blacks marched them to coast. Anyway, I did not make my point well.
In the article I linked, however, I find nothing saying the man mentioned was so inhumanely executed by a Dutchman. I do see that a code of treatment was written by a Dutchman.
Bottomline, my apologies. I could have said it another way.
I think it is a photograph of a painted portrait.
Not a big deal. The article to which you linked was about the slave codes in the Dutch S. African colony at Cape Town.
The Dutch controlled this colony and there weren’t free blacks trotting around themselves owning slaves.
If you want to find some appalling descriptions, look into the Muslim slave trade across the Sahara. I believe the death rate was a significant multiple of that across the Atlantic, which despite the sadistic conditions really did not have that high a death rate on average. The Atlantic slavers were businessmen, after all, and dead slaves were really hard to sell.
In fact, I ran across one study in which the death rate was about 3x higher among the slaver crews than among the slaves. The death rate was often higher among white immigrants crossing the Atlantic than on slave ships.
Another weird fact about the modern view of slavery is that it was something primarily indulged in by “America,” when in fact <5% of the slaves transported across the Atlantic came to what is now America.
It is also interesting that the colonial and American South was almost the only slave society in world history in which the slaves reproduced themselves, in fact had a population explosion that paralleled that of white Americans during the same period. Historically, slaves just did not maintain their numbers and had to constantly be replenished with fresh imports, true both in ancient slave societies as well as in the Caribbean. For not particularly well understood reasons, this rule did not apply in America.
If you are interested in stories about brutal slave executions, New York City burned a large number alive in the 1700s, not that long before our Revolution.
Communism/socialism is just another form of slavery.
Sherman Logan, thanks for those links. I AM interested.
Upon Johnson's death, his property was seized with a court allowing the seizure by determining that a freed Black man could not be a "citizen of the colony." His surviving family was allowed to keep some land.