Sunday, February 8, 2004

History of slavery in America
starts in 15th century Europe

By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

1 Two to four months transatlantic trip.
1 Slaves "seasoned" in South America.
1 Slaves learned the language and how to work the fields in the Caribbean islands.
1 Main point of entry into the United States was Alexandria, Va.
1 Slaves marched to market across country.
The journey begins in 1450, when European traders sailed to West Africa and began the transatlantic slave trade that brought 500,000 Africans to North America.

The passage took two to four months, with slaves confined on deck or between decks like cargo. Because slave owners wanted slaves who could speak English and work in the fields, they were taken to South America or Caribbean islands first to be "seasoned."

England's first foray into the slave trade came in 1619 and continued until 1672, at which point America became the biggest slave importer.

"If you were black (in America), you were born into permanent enslavement," says Carl Westmoreland, senior adviser to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. "They used the bloodlines of the mother to determine your race. For those of us whose blood was mingled with European blood, we were considered black and bastards in the eyes of the nation."

According to a 1705 declaration by the Virginia General Assembly: "All servants imported and brought into the Country ... who were not Christians in their native Country ... shall be accounted and be slaves. All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion ... shall be held to be real estate."

The movement of slaves south and west came for three reasons: the 1790 invention of the cotton gin, the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the forced removal of American Indians from their traditional lands. The slaves in Capt. John W. Anderson's Northern Kentucky pen were the descendants of these people brought to America 50 and 75 years earlier and marched in coffles - chain gangs of two by two - from Virginia.

"Pioneers brought slaves with them to clear land and build homes in Kentucky," says Westmoreland. "They ended up in Anderson's jail because their owners disposed of them due to death, financial hard times or their decision to get out of the business and move elsewhere. People of African descent were tangible assets listed as property along with their plows and farm implements."

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Slave pen now holds history
Slave pen's journey
History of slavery in America starts in 15th century Europe

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