August 20

August 20, 1619 – Africans Arrive In Jamestown, Virginia

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Africans arriving at Jamestown, Virginia from a Dutch Man of War Ship in 1619.

If there is a beginning date for African Americans in the United States, it would be August 20, 1619.  On this day almost four centuries ago, approximately 20 Africans became the first African Americans when they arrived aboard a Dutch Ship as captives in Jamestown, Virginia.

The inspection and sale of a slave

The inspection and sale of a slave.

The Africans were initially taken aboard a Spanish ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the ship was seized by the Dutch and the Africans were stolen and taken to America to be traded as mere merchandise instead of men and women with souls and a home far from the shores of Virginia.  Historians have concluded they these first African Americans may have actually been sold as indentured servants instead of slaves.

Crowe-Slaves Waiting for Sale - Richmond, Virginia

Slaves Waiting for Sale – Richmond, Virginia. 1853

One thing is for sure, they were the first of many to come from Africa to America as men, women and children without freedom.  There were over 597,000 Africans brought to America as slaves from 1620 to 1865.  The 1860 census indicates that there were 4 million slaves living in the United States.

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