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Destination of African Slaves (1519–1867)
DestinationPercentagePortuguese America38.5%British America (minus North America)18.4%Spanish Empire17.5%French Americas13.6%British North America6.5%English Americas3.3%Dutch West Indies2.0%Danish West Indies0.3%
The first 19 or so Africans arrived ashore near the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, brought by Dutch traders who had seized them from a captured Spanish slave ship. The Spanish usually baptized slaves in Africa before embarking them. As English law considered baptized Christians exempt from slavery, these Africans were treated as indentured servants who joined about 1,000 English indentured servants already in the colony. They were freed after a prescribed period and given the use of land and supplies by their former masters. The historian Ira Berlin noted that what he called the "charter generation" was sometimes made up of mixed-race men who were indentured servants, and whose ancestry was African and Iberian. They were descendants of African women and Portuguese and Spanish men who worked in African ports as traders or facilitators in the slave trade. For example, like Anthony Johnson, who arrived in 1621 as an indentured servant, some Africans achieved freedom and became property owners. The transformation of the status of Africans from indentured servitude to slavery—whereby they could never leave—happened gradually.
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