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1600

Pedro Gomes Reinal Dies

Pedro Gomes Reinal dies. The Spanish slave-trading monopoly is passed to Jaão Rodrigues Coutinho, Governor of Angola.

King Philip III of Spain Outlaws Native American Slaves

King Philip III of Spain outlaws the use of Native American slaves in Spanish colonies.

1603

Charter of Acadia

Charter of Acadia granted by Henry IV of France to Pierre du Gast, Sieur de Monts.

1604

Othello Performed

William Shakespeare’s play Othello: the Moor of Venice first performed. The play features the figure of Othello, an African general, now working for Venice, who has previously suffered enslavement.

1606

First Charter of Virginia

First Charter of Virginia granted.

1607

Jamestown is Founded

Jamestown, the first permanent British colony in North America, is founded in modern Virginia.

1609

Second Charter of Virginia

Second Charter of Virginia granted.

1610

Half Moon Arrives

Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon arrives in the “New World” mostly likely carrying African slaves.

1611

The Tempest Performed

William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest first performed. The play includes the figures of Caliban and Ariel, both enslaved.

Virginia's Third Charter

Third Charter of Virginia granted.

1612

Jamestown's First Tobacco Crop

The first commercial tobacco crop is raised in Jamestown, Virginia.

1613

De Servis et Eorum apud Veteres Ministeriis

Lorenzo Pignoria publishes De Servis et Eorum apud Veteres Ministeriis, a history of slavery in classical Rome.

1614

Bermuda Colony

Bermuda colony becomes an English Crown possession.

Netherlands Grants General Charter

Netherlands granted a general charter to those who discover any new passages, havens, countries, or places.

1617

Slaves in Bermuda

First records of slaves in Bermuda.

1619

Indentured Servants Brought to Old Point Comfort, Virginia

In August of 1619 the first 19 Africans arrived at Old Point Comfort, Virginia (today’s Hampton, Virginia) aboard the ship White Lion.

Three to four days later another ship, Treasurer arrived with more captured Africans, “28 or thirty negroes.”

The Africans are made indentured servants—not slaves.

Slavery is prohibited within the colony of Virginia by English rule of law.

The Africans after a prescribed period of indentured servitude were granted freedom and British subject hood. Their children, born in Virginia were freeborn Englishmen by law. Anthony Johnson was an early African who lived in Virginia.

Slave traders pointing at kidnapped African people on the shores of Jamestown

Portuguese Slave Ship Attacked

A Portuguese slave ship sailing from Angola to Veracruz, Mexico was attacked by a Dutch man-of-war and an English ship out of Jamestown. The two attacking ships captured about 50 enslaved persons—men, women, and children—and brought them to outposts of Jamestown, where more than 20 of the African captives were purchased.

Yeardley and Piersey Buy Slaves

Governor George Yeardley, with his head of trade Abraham Piersey, bought 20 odd Negroes at Point Comfort, Virginia.

1620

The 1620 Census

1620 Census

A census was made in March of 1620. The overall population was around 2,302. Current and former indentured servants made up as much as 80% of the population in Virginia.

The census recorded 32 Africans living in Virginia, all of whom could have arrived on the White Lion and the Treasurer.

There is no record of any other Africans arriving in the colony between September 1619 and March 1620.

1624

First Freeborn Afro-Englishman is Born

William Tucker, son of African Anthony Johnson is the first recorded Afro-Englishman born in Virginia. He is a freeborn Englishman by law.

Virginia Colonial Charter Revoked

Virginia’s colonial charter is revoked. Virginia becomes a royal colony. Virginia’s legislative assembly is bicameral. All colonial statutes requires the assent of the King. Colonial government is answerable to the monarch’s privy council whose then answerable to His Majesty’s Court of the King’s Bench.

1627

Alonso de Sandoval publishes Naturaleza, Policia

Alonso de Sandoval, a Spanish-Peruvian Jesuit, publishes Naturaleza, Policia, … Costumbres i Ritos, Disciplina, i Catechismo Evangelico de todos Etíopes (The Nature, Policy, … Customs and Rituals, Disciplines, and Gospel Catechism of all Ethiopians), which argues that slavery combines all the world’s evils.

Colony on Barbados at Jamestown Founded

80 British settlers and 10 African slaves found a colony on Barbados at Jamestown (modern Holetown).

1632

Maryland Granted Charter

The colony of Maryland is granted a charter. The colony has no plenary authority or power. Maryland’s legislative assembly is bicameral and colonial statutes require the assent of the King. Colonial government is answerable to the monarch’s privy council whose then answerable to His Majesty’s Court of the King’s Bench.

Montserrat Falls Under English Control

Montserrat, originally claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain in 1493, falls under English control.

1636

First American Slave Carrier Launches

Colonial North America’s slave trade begins when the first American slave carrier, Desire, is built and launched in Massachusetts.

1638

New England Slave Trade Begins

The New England slave trade begins in Boston. They did not have the same level of demand for slave labor as the southern colonies. But slavery was robust, as ships in Boston harbor sailed kidnapped Africans to sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean.

1639

Black Colonists Excluded from the Requirement to Bear Arms

Virginia’s colonial assembly… House of Burgesses enacts a colonial statute excluding black colonists from the requirement of possessing arms.

1640

John Punch Sentenced to Slavery

Virginia’s General Court enters a life-time sentence for John Punch, an African… a run-away indentured servant. The court proceedings reveal an example of interracial cooperation among servants at a time when the colony leaders were starting to create legal difference between Europeans and Africans. Punch becomes first African sentenced to slavery for life by law in Virginia.

1641

Massachusetts Recognizes Slavery as Legal

Massachusetts became the first North American colony to recognize slavery as a legal institution.

1642

The English Civil Wars Begin

The English Civil Wars (1642-1651) begins. The First English Civil War was fought in England and Wales, from August 1642 to June 1646. The war began when King Charles I of England sent soldiers to arrest five members of Parliament accused of treason, leading to Parliament raising its own armies against the King. It forms one of the conflicts known collectively as Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which also took place in Scotland and Ireland.

Virginia Makes it Illegal to Assist Slaves

Virginia law makes it illegal to assist escaping slaves.

1643

Confederation of Plymouth Adopts Fugitive Slave Law

The New England Confederation of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven adopts a fugitive slave law.

1644

11 Enslaved People Petition the Government

A group of 11 enslaved people in New Amsterdam (modern-day New York) successfully petition the government there in what is the first group manumission in a North American colony.

1649

England's Monarchy is Overthrown

England’s parliament passed an act abolishing monarchy and the House of Lords led by Oliver Cromwell. The England’s monarch is overthrown and suspended, while King Charles I is beheaded for treason. England becomes a republic or a Commonwealth with a central supreme government which holds the authority over and makes the decisions for subordinate local governments. However, the execution of the King caused the Scottish parliament to snub the newly formed Commonwealth south of the border. They declared the exiled Charles King of Great Britain and he improved his bargaining position by successfully encouraging the Royalist champion, the Earl of Montrose to come out of exile and raise a force once more.

1650

Connecticut Legalizes Slavery

Connecticut legalizes slavery.

1651

England's Monarchy is Suspended

Oliver Cromwell shattered the remaining Royalist forces and ended the War of the Three Kingdoms. England’s monarchy is suspended.

Navigation Act Requires Colonies to Pay Duties

The Navigation Act required the colonies to pay duties on all exports and that goods must be transported on English ships and have English crews before continuing to a foreign harbor.

First Recorded Blacks to Own Land

Anthony and Mary Johnson, first recorded blacks to own land in America, receives 250 acres of land in Northampton County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Rhode Island Restricts Slavery

Rhode Island passes laws restricting slavery and forbidding enslavement for more than 10 years.

Slaves Imported to Montserrat

First written mention of slaves being imported into Montserrat.

1652

Massachusetts Requires Servant Military Training

Massachusetts requires all black and Indian servants to receive military training.

1653

England's Monarchy is Suspended

Oliver Cromwell had expected the Parliament to take advantage of the suspension of the monarchy… but it had distrust towards the growing power of the Army and was primarily concerned with legislation ensuring its own survival. And on April 20, 1653 Cromwell led an armed force into the Commons Chamber and forcibly dissolved the Parliament stating: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… in the name of God, go”.

1654

Blacks Granted Rights to Hold Slaves

A Virginia court grants blacks the right to hold slaves.

Cromwell Becomes Lord Protector

Cromwell became Lord Protector and ruled with a council, which drew up a new constitution called the Instrument of Government.

Cromwell Dissolves Council

Cromwell dissolves his council and sets up a new English parliament, Protectorate Parliament, which refused to accept the Instrument of Government, so it was dissolved.

Anthony Johnson Sues Robert Parker

Anthony Johnson, a black Englishman, sued Robert Parker, a white Englishman, over a black slave, John Casor in a colonial court and won. The court ruled Casor to be returned to Anthony Johnson to serve as a slave for life, and for Parker to pay all court costs.

Elizabeth Key Sues for Freedom

Elizabeth Key, who’s father was a white Englishwoman, sued for her freedom and that of her son, John, in colonial court and won their freedom.

1655

Elizabeth Key - Freedom Lawsuit

The freedom lawsuit of a mixed-race woman named Elizabeth Key in 1655 brought before a colonial court drove Virginia’s House of Burgesses, its legislative assembly to purport to enact a law that authorized slavery in the 1660s.

1656

Elizabeth Key is Granted Freedom

Virginia’s House of Burgesses overturns a lower court’s civil verdict and rules in favor of granting freedom to a mixed-race woman Elizabeth Key, along with her mixed-race infant son. The court proceeding is a formative moment in colonial Virginia, as the very concept of whiteness was emerging as a means of reinforcing existing power structures.

1657

Virginia Passes Fugitive Slave Law

Virginia passes a fugitive slave law.

Richard Ligon Publishes A True and Exact Historie of the Island of Barbadoes in London

Richard Ligon publishes A True and Exact Historie of the Island of Barbadoes in London. The book contained one of the first detailed descriptions of a British slave plantation, and gave rise to the story of Inkle and Yarico.

George Fox Writes Letter

George Fox, the Quaker leader, writes a letter ‘To Friends beyond sea, that have Blacks and Indian Slaves’. This is the first letter written by a Quaker expressing some doubts about slavery in the New World.

1660

England’s Monarchy is Reinstated

England’s monarchy is reinstated, as well as Parliament and which is conferred supreme legislative power to enact positive law both provincial and over local governments. The eldest son of King Charles I… Charles II becomes King.

The newly restored King Charles II of England charters the ‘Royal Adventurers into Africa’, the first English state-sponsored slave trading company and orders the Council of Foreign Plantations to devise strategies for converting slaves and servants to Christianity.

Virginia's House of Burgesses Legalizes Slavery

Virginia’s House of Burgesses enacts a colonial statute legalizing slavery in Virginia. Virginia’s legislative assembly lacks plenary authority to legalize slavery or to create a class of colonists called slave by English law. Virginia’s colonial statute is void ab initio since neither England’s King or the Parliament gives assent or ratifies colonial statute.

1661

England’s Monarchy is Reinstated

England’s monarchy is reinstated, as well as Parliament and which is conferred supreme legislative power to enact positive law both provincial and over local governments. The eldest son of King Charles I… Charles II becomes King.

The newly restored King Charles II of England charters the ‘Royal Adventurers into Africa’, the first English state-sponsored slave trading company and orders the Council of Foreign Plantations to devise strategies for converting slaves and servants to Christianity.

Virginia's House of Burgesses Legalizes Slavery

Virginia’s House of Burgesses enacts a colonial statute legalizing slavery in Virginia. Virginia’s legislative assembly lacks plenary authority to legalize slavery or to create a class of colonists called slave by English law. Virginia’s colonial statute is void ab initio since neither England’s King or the Parliament gives assent or ratifies colonial statute.

Virginia Prohibits Marriage Between Races

Virginia is the first colony to take legal action against marriages between white women and black men. The first anti-miscegenation statute – prohibiting marriage between races – was written into law.

Cavalier Parliament Meets

The Cavalier Parliament first met and sat until January 1679: The bishops sat again in the Lords and the Act of Uniformity enforced conformity to the English Church.

1662

House of Burgesses Legalizes Hereditary Slavery

Virginia’s House of Burgesses enacts a colonial statute legalizing hereditary slavery: partum sequitur ventrem. Virginia’s legislative assembly lacks plenary authority to legalize hereditary slavery or to strip a person born in the colony of Virginia of British subjecthood or liberty at birth. Virginia’s colonial statute is void ab initio since neither England’s King or the Parliament gives assent or ratifies colonial statute.

New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire Restrict Rights to Bear Arms

Massachusetts reverses a ruling dating back to 1652 that allowed blacks to train in arms. New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire pass similar laws restricting the bearing of arms.

Maryland Incorporates Royal African Company

Maryland incorporates the Royal African Company to assure a ready supply of African slaves.

1663

Staple Act Requires Duties

The Staple Act required all goods destined for American colonies from foreign ports be shipped, unloaded, inspected, and repacked at England ports with duties assessed before transport to the colonies.

Virginia Slave Rebellion

In Gloucester County, Virginia, the first documented slave rebellion in the colonies takes place.

Maryland Legalizes Slavery

Maryland legalizes slavery.

Carolinas Given to Proprietors

Charles II, King of England, gives the Carolinas to proprietors.

1664

New York and New Jersey Legalize Slavery

New York and New Jersey legalize slavery.

Maryland Passes Slave Laws

Maryland passes black slave laws in contradiction to English law, but justified it on the grounds that slavery was a valuable source of labor.

1665

Charter Granted for Carolina Settlement

King Charles II granted a charter to settle in Carolina.

1666

Maryland Passes Fugitive Slave Law

Maryland passes a fugitive slave law.

1667

Virginia Declares Christians Can Be Slaves

Virginia declares that Christian baptism will not alter a person’s status as a slave.

1668

New Jersey Passes Slave Law

New Jersey passes a fugitive slave law.

1670

Virginia Prohibits White Servants Kept by Blacks

The State of Virginia prohibits free blacks and Indians from keeping Christian (i.e. white) servants.

Charles II Agrees to Secret Treaty

Charles II agreed in the secret treaty of Dover to convert to Catholicism in exchange for French subsidies.

1671

Fox Influences Quakers Against Slavery

George Fox, generally called the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), influences agitation among Quakers against slaveholding by Society members when he speaks against slavery on his visit to North America.

Quakers Visit Barbados

A group of Quakers, including George Fox and William Edmundson, visit Barbados and appear to have come into conflict with the Barbadian plantocracy for suggesting that slave-owners should treat their slaves with humanity and attempt to convert them to Christianity.

1672

King of England Charters Royal African Company

The King of England charters the Royal African Company, which becomes England’s major slave-trading organization into the 1730s.

Richard Blome Publishes A Description of the Island of Jamaica

The cartographer Richard Blome publishes A Description of the Island of Jamaica in London, which describes slavery in Jamaica for a popular audience.

1673

Act of 1673

The Act of 1673 stated that all goods not sailing from England ports to America be assessed duties and taxes paid at the colonial port to the governor before receipt.

Richard Baxter

The Puritan Richard Baxter publishes antislavery material in A Christian directory, or, a summ of practical theologie, and cases of conscience (London, 1673).

West India Company Replaced

The financially troubled French West India Company is replaced by the Compagnie du Sénégal (Senegal Company). Under various name changes, this remains the main French slave trading company into the 1720s.

Test Act

Parliament passed a Test Act to prevent Catholics from holding office, by which the successor to the throne, James, Duke of York, had to resign.

1674

Blacks Converting to Christianity Not Free in New York

New York declares that blacks who convert to Christianity after their enslavement will not be freed.

1676

Bacon's Rebellion

Bacon’s Rebellion was an armed rebellion joined in by all classes of colonists, which included European indentured servants, Afro-Englishmen and Africans. The alliance disturbed the colonial upper class. They responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from future united uprisings.

Slavery Prohibited in West New Jersey

Slavery is prohibited in West New Jersey, a Quaker settlement in current day South New Jersey.

Fox Publishes Gospel Family-Order

The Quaker George Fox publishes Gospel Family-Order, being a short discourse concerning the Ordering of Families, both of Whites, Blacks and Indians, which urged Quakers in America to treat their slaves humanely.

Curwen Visits Barbados

The Quaker Alice Curwen visits Barbados and, in a letter to the slave-holding Barbadian Friend Martha Tavernor, becomes the first Quaker to unambiguously denounce slavery.

1677

Butts Vs Penny

Butts versus Penny, the English Court of King’s Bench ordered ten blacks suing for their freedom to remain the rightful property of their master “until they become Christians; and thereby they are Infranchised.”

Four Peers Imprisoned

Four peers were imprisoned by the House of Lords for claiming that Parliament was automatically dissolved because it had not met for over a year.

1678

Test Act Passed

Parliament passed a Test Act to prevent Catholics from sitting in Parliament.

1679

Duke of York Excluded From Succession

The first Exclusion Parliament met: the Commons drafted a Bill to exclude the Duke of York from the succession.

1680

Virginia Passes Restrictive Laws

The State of Virginia forbids blacks and slaves from bearing arms, prohibits blacks from congregating in large numbers, and mandates harsh punishment for slaves who assault Christians or attempt escape.

Morgan Godwin

The Anglican Morgan Godwin publishes The Negro’s and Indians advocate, suing for their admission into the Church (London, 1680).

Exclusion Bill Defeated in Lords

The second Exclusion Parliament met: the Exclusion Bill was defeated in the Lords.

1681

Third Exclusion Parliament Meets

The third Exclusion Parliament met at Oxford for only a week, the last time Parliament met outside Westminster.

Tory Reaction (1681-84)

The Tory Reaction saw purges, prosecutions, and executions of prominent Exclusionists, or Whigs, as they were now called.

Pennsylvania Colony Founded

Pennsylvania Colony, later to become a centre of antislavery thought, was founded by a grant to William Penn by King Charles II.

1682

Virginia Declares Slaves for Life

Virginia declares that all imported black servants are slaves for life.

1684

New York Makes Selling Goods Illegal for Slaves

New York makes it illegal for slaves to sell goods.

Thomas Tryon

In London, Thomas Tryon publishes two tracts critical of slavery: ‘The Negro’s Complaint of Their Hard Servitude, and the Cruelties Practised upon Them’ and ‘A Discourse in Way of Dialogue, between an Ethiopean or Negro-Slave and a Christian, That Was His Master in America’. These appeared as parts II and III of Friendly Advice to the Gentlemen-Planters of the East and West Indies (London, 1684).

1685

Charles II Dies

Charles II died in February and James II’s Parliament first met in May, but after November was continuously prorogued until it was dissolved in July 1687.

1686

Godden v Hales

Godden v Hales allowed James II to dispense individuals from Test Acts. The bishop of London was suspended from his office for not taking action against an anti-Catholic preacher.

1687

Hans Sloane Begins Voyage to Jamaica

Hans Sloane boards a Royal Navy frigate at Portsmouth to begin a voyage to Barbados and Jamaica in which he observed both the wildlife of the islands and the treatment of enslaved people. His journey was written up years later in his celebrated two-volume A Voyage to Jamaica (London, 1707, 1725).

James II Issues Declaration of Indulgence

James II issued his Declaration of Indulgence for Nonconformists and sent agents to find potential Parliament members who would vote for repeal of the Test Acts.

1688

Seven Bishops Prosecuted

The Seven Bishops prosecuted by James II for refusing to announce the Declaration of Indulgence in their churches were acquitted. The “Immortal Seven” sent their invitation to William of Orange to invade England after the birth of James II’s son.

William of Orange

William of Orange invaded England during the Glorious Revolution causing James II to flee to France.

Germantown Protest

The Germantown Protest, sometimes also referred to as The German Mennonite Resolution against Slavery, the first formal protest against slavery to be made in the British American colonies, is delivered in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Aphra Behn Publishes Oroonoko

Aphra Behn publishes Oroonoko or the Royal Slave, the first novel to discuss the rights and wrongs of slavery.

Pennsylvania Quakers Pass Anti-slavery Resolution

The Pennsylvania Quakers pass the first formal antislavery resolution.

1689

The English Bill of Rights

England’s Parliament enacts English Bill of Rights. The bill codifies the liberty rights of all Englishmen. No Englishman can be born a slave and no one is above or below English rule of law.

John Locke publishes Two Treatises of Government

John Locke publishes Two Treatises of Government (London, 1689) which arguably offers a justification for slavery – although few scholars now believe that Locke’s arguments were intended to be applied to the Atlantic slave trade.

The Convention Parliament Votes

The Convention Parliament voted that James II had ‘abdicated’ and that William and Mary should be offered the Crown.

The Commons Read the Declaration of Rights

The Commons read the Declaration of Rights to William and Mary, which they later enacted as statute, the Bill of Rights.

Parliament Declares War

Parliament declared war on France leading to the Nine Years’ War.

1690

Parliament Establishes Commons' Commission

Parliament passed an Act establishing a Commons’ Commission of Public Accounts to oversee the Crown’s use of the revenue.

1691

Virginia Prohibits Manumission of Slaves

Parliament passed an Act establishing a Commons’ Commission of Public Accounts to oversee the Crown’s use of the revenue.

South Carolina Passes Slave Codes

South Carolina passes the first comprehensive slave codes.

1693

An Exhortation & Caution to Friends Concerning the Buying or Keeping of Negroes Published

An Exhortation & Caution to Friends Concerning the Buying or Keeping of Negroes by the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting is published in Philadelphia.

First Printed Pamphlet Denouncing Slavery Published in New York

The anonymous An exhortation and caution to Friends concerning buying or keeping of Negroes becomes the first printed pamphlet explicitly denouncing slavery and the slave trade published in New York.

1694

Rice Cultivation Introduced in Carolina

Rice cultivation is introduced into Carolina. Slave importation increases dramatically.

Bank of England

The Bank of England was founded by parliamentary statute.

Triennial Act

The Triennial Act providing for parliamentary elections every three years was passed

Queen Mary Dies

Queen Mary died and William III became sole ruler in December.

1696

Royal African Trade Company Loses Monopoly

The Royal African Trade Company loses its monopoly and New England colonists enter the slave trade.

Thomas Southerne

Thomas Southerne in London publishes his dramatic version of Behn’s Oroonoko, or, the Royal Slave.

First Institutional Attempt to Limit Slavery

Philadelphia Quakers rule that Friends ‘be Careful not to Encourage the bringing in of any more Negroes, & that such that have Negroes be Careful of them, bring them to Meetings, or have Meetings with them in their Families, & Restrain them from Loose, & Lewd Living.’ This is probably the first institutional attempt to limit slave trading in America.

Plot to Assassinate William III Revealed

Revelations of a plot to assassinate William III led to the drafting of an oath of loyalty to the King, rejected by many Tory and peers.

1697

Treaty of Ryswyck

The Treaty of Ryswyck ended the Nine Years’ War.

1699

Woolen Act

The Woolen Act prohibited the export, but not the manufacture for local sale, of colonial woolen cloth.

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