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First State Recognized Slave Was Owned by Anthony Johnson

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C Robert JonesPhD

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Anthony Johnson (? - 1670) was an early black resident of the Virginia Colony. He was one of the original 20 African laborers brought to Jamestown in 1619 as an indentured servant. On records from Jamestown, he is referred to as "Antonio a Negro". In the 1640s, he purchased his freedom from indentured servitude for both himself and his wife and by 1651 he was prosperous enough to import five "servants" of his own, for which he was granted as "headrights".

According to the earliest known court records, slavery was first established in Virginia in 1654, when Johnson convinced the court in Northampton County that he was entitled to the lifetime services of John Casor, also a black man. Claiming that he had been imported as an indentured servant, Casor attempted to transfer what he argued was his remaining time of service to Robert Parker, a white, but Johnson insisted that he "had ye Negro for his life.

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