In 1619, Virginia was a sparsely populated island which was struggling to make the colony profitable for human but the colonists were devastated by disease, death and Native-American attacks. So when a badly damaged Dutch ship arrived on their island carrying twenty kidnapped Africans, the colony offered food and services to the Dutchmen in exchange for the human cargo. The colonists had no model for human slavery so the Africans joined the Europeans to serve them in their fields, in exchange for seven years of hard labour they would be earning land and food. The colonies prospered and their exports grew more profitable, the colonies were more reluctant to lose their labour. Africans here were not subject to English common law but they were workers without rights. In 1641 when slavery was legalized, situations became worse and the laws said that Africans became personal property and could be owner for life. Slavery became so profitable in the colonies that in 1660, King Charles the II established a company named the Royal African Company to import Africans for slavery.

They were referred to as Black Gold who were imported from Africa to America. America relied on its own internal slave trade when the British outlawed slavery in 1807, by 1860 there were more than one million slaves being moved and sold within the colonies. The traders marched the slaves from the East-Coast to the Southern plantations; on the way the slaves were treated like animals and hurdled in warehouses and yards. The traders wanted a self-reproducing labour force and the labels they used reflected the degradation of slavery. They were sold in the auction where women were further sold into prostitution or as mistresses to their masters. The enslaved population was controlled by legal authorized violence, whippings and public beatings. But slavery always had its critics in America as the slave trade grew so did the opposition and eventually America became a country divided against itself.

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Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: African American History.