LECTURE NOTE: https://prezi.com/rmmcfylic9vp/colonial-culture-indentured-servants-enslaved-africans-and-women/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy





Discuss the ways in which your topic (i.e. westward expansion, slavery, civil war, women’s suffrage, religion, etc.) impacted and/or changed the US.


In a broad sense, what were the conditions prior to (a), the process toward (b), and the results of that change (c)? For each part (a, b, and c), include examples and evidence to support your argument(s). The following questions are a guide to the type of information and analysis you should include in your discussion. Ask yourself the following as you start the writing process:


  1. What were the conditions in society prior to your topic that influenced, spawned, caused, or led to it? (I.e. what is the historical context?)
  2. Discuss the process of change.
    1. Was it gradual or swift?

i.     Why?

ii.     In what ways?

  1. Did violence and/or resistance accompany it?
  2. What ideology informed/influenced/spurred the change?
  3. What were the cultural, social, and/or political results of those changes?
    1. Were the outcomes positive or negative?
    2. Who did they benefit, and whom did they harm? Offer evidence for both.


The final aspect of your paper is to discuss the historical significance of your topic (the last paragraph before the conclusion). Specifically, you must link your chosen topic to present-day society, events, people, policies, etc. Tell me how your topic continues to manifest in today’s society. You do not need primary sources in this paragraph…it is purely your opinion. But, you should include examples with enough detail so I know what you are specifically referencing. The historical significance is arguably the most crucial part of the essay because it requires critical thinking skills to link history across time and space.


4 pages and include at least four to five primary documents.  You can also use secondary sources such as the Ebook, and monographs and/or articles by scholars. You can use both types of sources, but primary ones are required.

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The Meaning of America Digital History ID 57

Author: Christopher Columbus Date:1493


At the time of the first discoveries, Europeans tended to view the New World from one of two contrasting perspectives. Many saw America as an earthly paradise, a land of riches and abundance, where the native peoples led lives of simplicity and freedom similar to those enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Other Europeans described America in a much more negative light: as a dangerous and forbidding wilderness, a place of cannibalism and human misery, where the population lacked Christian religion and the trappings of civilization. This latter view of America as a place of savagery, cannibalism, and death would grow more pronounced as the Indian population declined precipitously in numbers as a result of harsh labor and the ravages of disease and as the slave trade began transporting millions of Africans to the New World.

But it was the positive view of America as a land of liberty, liberation, and material wealth that would remain dominant. America would serve as a screen on which Europeans projected their deepest fantasies of a land where people could escape inherited privilege, corruption, and tradition. The discovery of America seemed to mark a new beginning for humanity, a place where all Old World laws, customs, and doctrines were removed, and where scarcity gave way to abundance.

In a letter reporting his discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) paints a portrait of the indigenous Taino Indians as living lives of freedom and innocence near the biblical Garden of Eden.


….The people of this island [Hispaniola] and of all the other islands which I have found and seen, or have not seen, all go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them, except that some women cover one place with the leaf of a plant or with a net of cotton which they make for that purpose. They have no iron or steel or weapons, nor are they capable of using them, although they are well-built people of handsome stature, because they are wondrous timid. They have no other arms than the arms of canes, [cut] when they are in seed time, to the end of which they fix a sharp little stick; and they dare not make use of these, for oftentimes it has happened that I have sent ashore two or three men to some town to have speech, and people without number have come out to them, as soon as they saw them coming, they fled; even a father would not stay for his son; and this was not because wrong had been done to anyone; on the contrary, at every point where I have been and have been able to have speech, I have given them of all that I had, such as cloth and many other things, without receiving anything for it; but they are like that, timid beyond cure. It is true that after they have been reassured and have lost this fear, they are so artless and so free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it. Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them. I forbade that they should be given things so worthless as pieces of broken crockery and broken glass, and lace points, although when they were able to get them, they thought they had the best jewel in the world…. And they know neither sect nor idolatry, with the exception that all believe that the source of all power



and goodness is in the sky, and in this belief they everywhere received me, after they had overcome their fear. And this does not result from their being ignorant (for they are of a very keen intelligence and men who navigate all those seas, so that it is wondrous the good account they give of everything), but because they have never seen people clothed or ships like ours.

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Christopher Columbus, Letter to the sovereigns on his first voyage, February 15-March 4, 1493

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The Columbus Doors Digital History ID 2369

Credit: Architect of the Capitol Media type: doors Museum Number: Annotation: The Columbus Doors that stand at the east entrance of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda are an imposing sight. They stand nearly 17 feet tall and weigh 20,000 pounds. The artist was Randolph Roger, and his alto- relief bronze doors make a powerful statement about not only their subject, Christopher Columbus, but the importance of Columbus to the national consciousness. The bronze doors are curved, with a semicircular tympanum above two valves that are divided into four panels each. The details of each scene are finely modeled, and techniques of Renaissance perspective and different levels of relief give each scene a sense of depth. At the pinnacle is a bust of Columbus, surrounded by rays and oak leaves, signifying his rising to glory. A running border is ornamented with Indian headdresses and emblems of conquest, navigation, the arts and sciences, history, agriculture, and commerce. The four figures symbolizing the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe, and America indicate the entire world’s acknowledgement of Columbus’s accomplishment. Between the panels are sculpted heads of historians and others whose writings on Columbus’s voyage were the bases for the scenes depicted. The life of Columbus begins at the bottom of the left valve and continues in a clockwise



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Labor Needs Digital History ID 56

Author: Alonso de Zuazo Date:1518


Christopher Columbus believed that Indians would serve as a slave labor force for Europeans, especially on the sugar cane plantations off the western coast of north Africa. Convinced that the Taino Indians of the Caribbean would make ideal slaves, he transported 500 to Spain in 1495. Some 200 died during the overseas voyage. Thus Columbus initiated the African slave trade, which originally moved from the New World to the Old, rather than the reverse.

By the beginning of the sixteenth century, Spain’s experiments in enslaving Indians were failing. To meet the mounting demand for labor in mining and agriculture, the Spanish began to exploit a new labor force: slaves from western Africa.

Slavery was a familiar institution to many sixteenth-century Europeans. Although slavery had gradually died out in northwestern Europe, it continued to flourish around the Mediterranean Sea. Ongoing warfare between Christianity and Islam produced thousands of slave laborers, who were put to work in heavy agriculture in Italy, southern France, eastern Spain, Sicily, and eastern Europe near the Black Sea. Most slaves in this area were “white”–either Arabs or natives of Russia and eastern Europe. But by the mid-fifteenth century, the expansion of the Ottoman empire cut off the supply of white slaves. It was during the mid-fifteenth century that Portugal established trading relations along the West African coast, and discovered that it was able to purchase huge numbers of black slaves at a low cost.

Several factors made African slaves the cheapest and most expedient labor source. The prevailing ocean currents made it relatively easy to transport Africans to the Caribbean. Further, because Africans came from developed agricultural societies, they were already familiar with highly organized tropical agriculture. The first African slaves were brought to the New World as early as 1502, where they would mine precious metals and raise sugar, coffee, and tobacco–the first goods sold to a mass consumer market.

The African slave trade would be an indispensable part of European settlement and development of the New World. By the mid-eighteenth century, slaves could be found everywhere in the Americas from French Canada to Chile. Indeed, the number of Africans forcibly imported into the New World actually exceeded the number of whites who would come to the Americas before the 1830s. Between 1492 and 1820, approximately ten to fifteen million Africans were forcibly brought to the New World, while only about two million Europeans had migrated. In this excerpt, Alonzo de Zuazo (1466-1527), the Spanish Judge of Hispaniola, argues that slavery is essential for Caribbean development.


Indeed, there is urgent need for Negro slaves, as I have written to inform His Highness, and in as much as Your Lordship will see that part of my letter to His Highness, I shall not repeat it here, except to say that it is urgent to have them brought. Ships sail from these islands for Seville to purchase essential goods such as cloth of various colours as well as other merchandise, which is used as ransom of Cape Verde whither the goods are carried with the permission of the King of Portugal. By virtue of the said ransom, let ships go there and bring away as many male and female Negroes as possible, newly imported and between the ages of fifteen to



eighteen or twenty years. They will be made to adopt our customs in this island and they will be settled in villages and married to their women folk. The burden of work of the Indians will be eased and unlimited amounts of gold will be mined. This is the best land in the world for Negroes, women and old men, and it is very rarely that one of these people die.

J.A. Saco, Historia de la Esclavitud de las Raza Africana, Tomo I, 143-144

Source: J.A. Saco, Historia de la Esclavitud de las Raza Africana, Tomo 1, pp. 143-44

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Immigration and Ethnic Diversity Digital History ID 81

Author: Gottlieb Mittelberger Date:1750


During the eighteenth century, the colonial population grew at an astounding rate, doubling every twenty-five years. A significant part of this growth was the result of natural increase. At a time when the average English family had just three or four children survive to adulthood, the figure in the colonies was around seven. But the increase in population also reflected rapid immigration.

Immigration had a variety of sources. During the eighteenth century between 500,000 and 600,000 slaves were forcibly imported into the North American colonies. Another source of newcomers was the Scotch-Irish, descendants of sixteenth-century Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in northern Ireland. Fleeing rising rents imposed by absentee English landlords as well as a tax system that required them to pay tithes to support the Anglican church, about 100,000 people from Ireland came to the American colonies between 1720 and 1755.

During this same period, some 65,000 Protestants left an area in Germany’s Rhine valley known as the Rhenish Palatine for the American colonies, fleeing religious persecution and crop failures. By 1775, the Pennsylvania Dutch (actually “Deutsch” for Germans) made up a third of the colony’s population.

South of New England, half of all immigrants arrived in various forms of unfreedom: as indentured servants, apprentices, tenants, convicts, or slaves. George Washington’s namesake–a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses named George Erskine, who served as Washington’s mother’s legal guardian–had been kidnapped as a boy in Wales and sold as a servant in Virginia. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) arrived in Philadelphia in 1774 on a vessel carrying 122 indentured servants.

About a third of eighteenth-century Germans came as “redemptioners,” who sold themselves or their children for a term of years in return for transportation to the American colonies. By 1750, when Gottlieb Mittelberger, a schoolteacher from the Duchy of Wurttenberg left his wife and children to travel to America, recruitment and transportation of German settlers was controlled by Dutch shippers, who charged the emigrants by the day. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, the emigrants were kept on shipboard until someone agreed to pay the costs of their transportation. To obtain payment, many redemptioners agreed to serve a three or more years term of service and bound out their children until the age of 21.


During the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of sea-sickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth-rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.

Add to this, want of provisions, hunger, thirst, frost, heat, dampness, anxiety, want, afflictions, and lamentations, together with other trouble, as for example, the lice abound so frightfully, especially on sick people, that they can be scraped off the body. The misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for two or three nights and days, so that every one believes the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board.



In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously….

At length, when, after a long and tedious voyage, the ships come in sight of land, so that the promontories can be seen, which the people were so eager and anxious to see, all creep from below on deck to see the land from afar, and they weep for joy, and pray and sing, thanking and praising God….

But alas! When the ships have landed at Philadelphia after their long voyage, no one is permitted to leave them, except those who pay for their passage or can give good security. The others, who cannot pay, must remain on board the ships till they are purchased, and are released from the ships by their purchasers. The sick always fare the worst, for the healthy are naturally preferred and purchased first. And so the sick and wretched must often remain on board in front of the city for two or three weeks, and frequently die; whereas many a one, if he could pay his debt and were permitted to leave the ship immediately, might recover and remain alive….

The sale of human beings in the market on board the ship is carried on thus: every day Englishmen, Dutchmen, and High-German people come from the city of Philadelphia and other places, in part from a great distance, say 20, 30, or 40 hours away, and go on board the newly arrived ship that has brought and offers for sale passengers from Europe, and select among the healthy persons such as they deem suitable for their business, and bargain with them how long they will serve for their passage-money, which most of them are still in debt for. When they come to an agreement, it happens that adult persons bind themselves in writing to serve 3, 4, 5, or 6 years for the amount due by them, according to their age and strength. But very young people, from 10 to 15 years, must serve till they are 21 years old.

Many parents must sell and trade away their children like so many head of cattle; for it their children take the debt upon themselves, the parents can leave the ship free and unrestrained. But as the parents often do not know where and to what people their children are going, it often happens that such parents and children, after leaving the ship, do not see each other again for many years, perhaps no more in all their lives.

When people arrive who…have children under 5 years, the parents cannot free themselves by them; for such children must be given to somebody without compensation to be brought up, and they must serve for their bringing up till they are 21 years old. Children from 5 to 10 years, who pay half price for their passage, viz. 30 florins, must likewise serve for it till they are 21 years of age. They cannot, therefore, redeem their parents by taking the debt of the latter upon themselves. But children above 10 years can take part of their parents’ debt upon themselves.

A woman must stand for her husband if he arrives sick, and in like manner a man for his sick wife, and take the debt upon herself or himself, and thus serve 5 to 6 years, not alone for his or her own debt, but also for that of the sick husband or wife. But if both are sick, such persons are sent from the ship to the sick-house, but not until it appears probable that they will find no purchasers. As soon as they are well again they must serve for their passage, or pay if they have means.

It often happens that whole families–husband, wife, and children–are separated by being sold to different purchasers, especially when they have not paid any part of their passage-money.

When a husband or wife has died at sea when the ship has made more than half of her trip, the survivor must pay or serve not only for himself or herself, but also for the deceased….

If some one in this country runs away form his master, who has treated him harshly, he cannot get far. Good provision has been made for such cases, so that a runaway is soon recovered. He who detains or returns a deserter receives a good reward.

Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750 (1898), 20-29

Source: Gottlieb Mittelberger, Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750 (Philadelphia: J.J. McVey, 1898).

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Indentured Servitude Digital History ID 64

Author: John Hammond Date:1656


Raising tobacco required a large labor force. At first, it was not clear that this labor force would consist of enslaved Africans. Virginians experimented with a variety of labor sources, including Indian slaves, penal slaves, and white indentured servants. Convinced that England was overpopulated with vagabonds and paupers, the colonists imported surplus Englishmen to raise tobacco and to produce dyestuffs, potash, furs, and other goods that England had imported from other countries. Typically, young men or women in their late teens or twenties would sign a contract of indenture. In exchange for transportation to the New World, a servant would work for several years (usually four to seven) without wages.

The status of indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland was not wholly dissimilar from slavery. Servants could be bought, sold, or leased. They could also be physically beaten for disobedience or running away. Unlike slaves, however, they were freed after their term of service expired, their children did not inherit their status, and they received a small cash payment of “freedom dues.”

The English writer Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731) set part of his novel Moll Flanders (1683) in early Virginia. Defoe described the people who settled in Virginia in distinctly unflattering terms: There were convicts, who had been found guilty of felonies punishable by death, and there were those “brought over by masters of ships to be sold as servants. Such as we call them, my dear, but they are more properly called slaves.”

George Alsop, an indentured servant in Maryland, echoed these sentiments in 1666. Servants “by hundreds of thousands” spent their lives “here and in Virginia, and elsewhere in planting that vile tobacco, which all vanishes into smoke, and is for the most part miserably abused.” And, he went on, this “insatiable avarice must be fed and sustained by the bloody sweat of these poor slaves.”

In this extract, John Hammond (d. 1707) describes servitude in Virginia during the tobacco boom years.


It is the glory of every Nation to enlarge themselves, to encourage their own foreign attempts, and to be able to be able to have their own, within their territories, as many several commodities as they can attain to, that so others may rather be beholding to them, than they to others….

But alas, we Englishmen…do not only fail in this, but vilify, scandalize and cry down such parts of the unknown world, as have been found out, settled and made flourishing, by the charge, hazard, and diligence of their own brethren, as if because removed from us, we either account them people of another world or enemies.

This is too truly made good in the odious and cruel slanders cast on those two famous Countries of Virginia and Mary-land, whereby those Countries, not only are many times at a stand, but are in danger to moulder away, and come in time to nothing….

The Country [Virginia] is reported to be an unhealthy place, a nest of Rogues, whores, dissolute and rooking persons; a place of intolerable labour, bad usage and hard Diet, &c.



To Answer these several calumnies, I shall first shew what it was? Next, what it is?

At the first settling and many years after, it deserved most of those aspersions (nor were they aspersions but truths)…. Then were Jails emptied, youth seduced, infamous women drilled in, the provisions all brought out of England, and that embezzled by the Trustees (for they durst neither hunt fowl, nor Fish, for fear of the Indian, which they stood in awe of) their labour was almost perpetual, their allowance of victual small, few or no cattle, no use of horses nor oxen to draw or carry, (which labours men supplied themselves) all of which caused a mortality; no civil courts of justice but under a martial law, no redress of grievances, complaints were repaid with stripes…in a word all and the worst that tyranny could inflict….

And having briefly laid down the former state of Virginia, in its Infancy, and filth, and the occasion of its scandalous aspersions: I come to my main subject, its present condition of Happiness (if anything can be called happy in this transitory life)….

The usual allowance for servants is (besides their charge of passage defrayed) at their expiration, a year’s provision of corn, double apparel, tools necessary, and land according to the custom of the Country, which is an old delusion, for there is no land customarily due to the servant, but to the Master, and therefore that servant is unwise that will not dash out that custom in his covenant and make that due of land absolutely his own, which although at the present, not of so great consequences; yet in few years will be of much worth….

When ye go aboard, expect the Ship somewhat troubled and in a hurlyburly, until ye clear the lands end; and that the Ship is rummaged, and things put to rights, which many times discourages the Passengers, and makes them wish the Voyage unattempted: but this is but for a short season, and washes off when at Sea, where the time is pleasantly passed away, though not with such choice plenty as the shore affords.

But when ye arrive and are settled, ye will find a strange alteration, an abused Country giving the lie to your own approbations to those that have calumniated it….

The labour servants are put to, is not so hard nor of such continuance as Husbandmen, nor Handicraftmen are kept at in England, I said little or nothing is done in winter time, none ever work before sun rising nor after sun set, in the summer they rest, sleep or exercise themselves give hours in the heat of the day, Saturdays afternoon is always their own, the old Holidays are observed and the Sabbath spent in good exercises.

The women are not (as is reported) put into the ground to work, but occupy such domestic employments and housewifery as in England, that is dressing victuals, right up the house, milking, employed about dairies, washing, sewing, &c. and both men and women have times of recreations, as much or more than in any part of the world besides, yet some wenches that are nastily, beastly and not fit to be so employed are put into the ground, for reason tells us, they must not at charge be transported then maintained for nothing, but those that prove so awkward are rather burthensome than servants desirable or useful….

Those Servants that will be industrious may in their time of service gain a competent estate before their Freedoms, which is usually done by many, and they gain esteem and assistance that appear so industrious: There is no Master almost but will allow his Servant a parcel of clear ground to cut some Tobacco in for himself, which he may husband at those many idle times he hath allowed him and not prejudice, but rejoice his Master to see it, which in time of Shipping he may lay out for commodities, and in Summer sell them again with advantage and get a Pig or two, which any body almost will give him, and his Master suffer him to keep them with his own, which will be no charge to his Master, and with one years increase of them may purchase a Cow Calf or two, and by that time he is for himself; he may have Cattle, Hogs and Tobacco of his own, and come to live gallantly; but this must be gained (as I have said) by Industry and affability, not by sloth nor churlish behavior.

And whereas it is rumoured that Servants have no lodging other then on boards, or by the Fire side, it is contrary to reason to believe it: First, as we are Christians; next as people living under a law, which compels as well the Master as the Servant to perform his duty; nor can true labour be either expected or exacted without sufficient clothing, diet, and lodging; all which their Indentures (which must inviolably be observed) and the Justice of the Country requires.

But if any go thither, not in a condition of a Servant, but pay his or her passage, which is some six pounds: Let them not doubt but it is money well laid out…although they carry little else to take a Bed along with them, and then few Houses but will give them entertainment, either out of courtesy, or on reasonable terms; and I think it better for any that goes over free, and but in a mean condition, to hire himself for reasonable wages of Tobacco and Provision, the first year, provided he happen in an honest house, and where the Mistress is noted for a good Housewife, of which there are very many (notwithstanding the cry to the contrary) for by that means he will live



free of disbursement, have something to help him the next year, and be carefully looked to in his sickness (if he chance to fall sick) and let him so covenant that exceptions may be made, that he work not much in the hot weather, a course we always take with our new hands (as they call them) the first year they come in.

If they are women that go after this manner, that is paying their own passages; I advise them to sojourn in a house of honest repute, for by their good carriage, they may advance themselves in marriage, by their ill, overthrow their fortunes; and although loose persons seldom live long unmarried if free; yet they match with as dissolute as themselves, and never live handsomely or are ever respected…..

Be sure to have your contract in writing and under hand and seal, for if ye go over upon promise made to do this or that, or to be free, it signifies nothing.

John Hammond, Leah and Rachel, or, The Two Fruitful Sisters Virginia and Mary-land: Their Present Condition, Impartially Stated and Related, 1656

Source: John Hammond, Leah and Rachel, or, The Two Fruitful Sisters Virginia and Mary-land, (London: Printed by Mabb, 1656).

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Indentured Servitude Digital History ID 87

Author: Javin Toby Date:1747


Colonial Americans were extremely familiar with various forms of unfree labor. Many youths served a term of years apart from their families as servants or apprentices. At the age of 12, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was indentured to his much older brother for a nine-year term, and was only supposed to receive wages the last year.

The prevalence of various forms of voluntary and involuntary servitude gave a highly charged meaning to words like “liberty,” “freedom,” and “tyranny.” Franklin would later write in his autobiography that his brother’s harsh treatment “might be a means of impressing me with that aversion to arbitrary power that has stuck to me through my whole life.” It seems likely that their familiarity with servitude contributed to the colonists’ suspicions of power and their fear that America would be subjected to slavery as a result of arbitrary British rule and autocratic trade and tax policies.


This Indenture Witnessesth that Hannah Toby Indian Woman of So[uth] Kingstown of…ye Colony of Rhode Island…hath put her son Javin Toby, Molatto of her own free will & accord an apprentice or servant of John Steadman of South Kingstown yeoman & to Purthany his Wife…after the manner of an apprentice from of Day of ye date hereof for and during ye Term of fifteen years & five Months which Will be compleat on ye Seventh day of June 1763. During all which Term of apprentice of servant his master & mistress faithfully shall serve their secrets keep their Lawful Commands of labor & every Where obey he shall do no damage to his s[ai]d Master & Mistress nor see it done by others. Without giving notice thereof to his s[ai]d Master & Mistress he shall not waste his Master & Mistresses goods nor lend them unlawfully to any. He shall not use any unlawful games nor contract matrimony nor commit Fornication During s[ai]d Term he shall not absent himself either by day or by night Without Leave nor Haunt Taverns ale Houses…but in all things behave as a faithful servant out to do during the s[ai]d term and his s[ai]d Master & Mistress…by their Parts are to find and provide sufficient apparel meat Drink Washing & Lodging Suitable for Such an apprentice. During s[ai]d Term at ye Expiration thereof to Dismiss Him With one new Suit of apparel fitting for his body besides his usual wearing Clothes.

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Indenture Apprenticing Javin Toby

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National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763 *


The Confession of John Grimes_____1765

John Grimes was one of 50,000 convicted criminals transported to America by the British government to be “sold” as indentured servants. In 1765 Grimes and two other Irish servants were convicted of burglary in New Jersey and sentenced to death by hanging. Felons’ final statements were often published as pamphlets to be circulated on execution day ⎯ a common practice of the time to underscore the consequences of illegal behavior. Whose perspective is reflected in the confession? How might Grimes have rewritten the confession to reflect his perspective? In what ways would he have agreed with the anonymous author and publisher?

JOHN GRIMES, aged Twenty-two Years, was born in the West of Ireland, in a small Village, of low, mean [poor] Parents, who had neither Ability nor Opportunity to give me any Education, so that from my Infancy I was brought up to Idleness and thieving, which, instead of being corrected in me, was

rather encouraged; at least I became so notorious, that I was obliged to leave that Part of the country, and come to Dublin, and being bred to no Business, worked on board Ships at the Leys, but following my old Trade, I was dismissed from all Employment for Dishonesty and Thieving; I subsisted sometime in that City by joining a Gang of Street Robbers and Pick Pockets, but Justice overtaking them, and the heads of the Gang being hanged, and others impeaching me, I was once more obliged to abscond, and from thence went over to Liverpool, but being known there, I travelled to Bristol, and from thence to London, following my Trade of Thieving all along; and there turning Foot Pad [highway bandit], and robbing a Gentleman at Temple-Bar, I was taken and committed to Newgate [prison], and tried at the Old Bailey [court]; and as it was the first Crime I was known to be guilty of, I was cast for Transportation [sentenced to indentured servitude in the colonies], and accordingly came over in the Dolphin, Capt. Cramer, to Patapsco, in Maryland, and was sold as a Servant to an Iron-Work, but I soon run away from them, and carried off with me as much Goods out of a Store I had broke open, as made me pass for a Pedlar, when I came into New-Castle; from New-Castle I went to New-York, where I associated with a Gang who for a long Time had infested that City; but being obliged to leave that Place, I returned to New-Castle, where I pretended to be an Irish Pedlar newly come over; but I could not help following what was almost natural to me, but once more took to Thieving and House-breaking, and after performing several Exploits in that Way, I at last stole a Horse, for which I was apprehended, tried, and bumt [branded] in the Hand; while I lay in this Gaol [jail], I could not resist the Temptation of Stealing, the Evil was so ingrafted in my wicked Heart; the Affair was this, a Man being in that Gaol, under Sentence of Death, the Sheriff procured a Person to execute him, and paid the Money before hand; but to secure the Fellow from running away before he had done the Job, he put him in Gaol, where he had not lain long before I robb’d him of all his Money, which I spent idly: I lay a considerable Time in this Gaol, till a Gentlemen from Maryland, upon my signing an Indenture to serve for some Time for the Fees, took me out, but instead of fulfilling my Engagement, I robbed the Gentleman of his Horse, and all he had about him, and again push’d for New-York. In the Gaol at New-Castle, I had Information from a Prisoner who was well acquainted in New-Jersey, of the House of Joseph Burr, for the robbing of which I not suffer. In the City of New-York I first became acquainted with my unhappy Fellow-Sufferers; from that City we travelled in Company towards West-Jersey, and parted near Mount-Holly, when I went across Delaware, into Pennsylvania, and there stole the Watch of Edward Hill, and then returned into the Jersies, met my old Comrades, and with them planned and executed the aforesaid Robbery, we then stole Horses to carry us off, but getting drunk, we quarreled in the Woods about dividing our Booty, when I was beat in so terrible a Manner that I was not able to make my Escape, and the other two going to sleep, during which Time the Country being alarmed, we were apprehended and brought to Burlington, and now are deservedly to suffer for this and our former Crimes. I die a Member of the Roman Catholic Communion, and in Peace and Charity with all Men, hoping GOD will pardon all my Sins and Offences, and forgive my Enemies.


* National Humanities Center, 2009: nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds. In The Last Speech, Confession, Birth, Parentage and Education, of John

Grimes, John Fagan, and John Johnson, alias Johnson Cochran, who were executed at Gallows-Hill, in the City of Burlington, on Wednesday, the 28th of August, 1765, for Burglary and Felony, committed in the County of Burlington, 1765; in Kerby A. Miller, et al., eds., Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815 (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 271-272; permission pending. Bracketed annotations added by NHC from notes in Miller, et al., Irish Immigrants.



National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763

Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library

The Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon), 19 April 1770

“A Stranger in a Strange Land” Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge

1774 Selections on Ashbridge’s decision to emigrate to America and her servitude in New York, 1732-1735*

Elizabeth Ashbridge arrived in America in 1732 as a nineteen-year-old indentured servant, a “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Five years earlier she had eloped but was soon widowed, and then sent to live with Quaker relatives in Ireland. Estranged from her parents and unhappy in Ireland, she decided to emigrate to Pennsylvania where an uncle lived. Ignorant of the trafficking in vulnerable young people into indentured servitude, she was tricked into signing a four-year indenture contract to pay for her transatlantic passage. Sold to a harsh “master” in New York City, she worked as a house servant in conditions that “would make the most strong heart pity the Misfortunes of a young creature as I was.” After three years she bought out the remainder of her contract and supported herself as a seamstress. In her religious quest she pursued several Christian denominations before deciding to become a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers): thus her memoir is at first a spiritual autobiography.

y life having been attended with many uncommon Occurrences, some of which I through disobedience brought upon myself, and other I believe were for my Good, I therefore thought proper to make some remarks on the Dealings of Divine Goodness to me, and have often had

cause with David to say, it was good for me that I have been afflicted &c.1 and most earnestly I desire that whosoever reads the following lines, may take warning, and shun the Evils that I have thro’ Deceitfulness of Satan been drawn into. . . .

M the


My Father still keeping me at such a distance that I thought myself quite shut out of his Affections, I therefore Concluded since my Absence was so Agreeable, he should have it; and getting acquainted with a Gentlewoman that then lately came from Pensilvania (& was going back again) where I had an Uncle, my Mother’s Brother, I soon agreed with her for my passage & being ignorant of the Nature of an Indenture2 soon became bound, tho’ in a private manner, (for fear I should be found out) tho’ this was repugnant to law.⎯As soon as this was over, She invited me to go & see the Vessel I was to go in, to which I readily consented, not Knowing what would follow, & when I came on board, I found a Young Woman I afterward understood was of a very good Family and had been deluded away by this creature. I was extremely pleased to think that I should have such an agreeable Companion & while we were in discourse, our Kidnapper left us & went on shore, & when I wanted to go, was not permitted. . . .

After being forced to stay on the ship for several weeks, Ashbridge and her companion are rescued by friends; but, desiring to pursue her plan to go to America, she reboards the ship with the captain’s permission⎯not considering how she will pay for her passage. En route to Ireland, she overhears some Irish servants plotting to kill the ship’s crew and sail to America as unindentured men. She informs the captain, who tricks the conspirators into leaving the ship near the Irish coast.

* National Humanities Center, 2009: nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds. Elizabeth Ashbridge, Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth

Ashbridge, who died in Truth’s service at the house of Robert Lecky at Kilnock in the County of Carlow Ireland; the 16th of 5th mo. 1755. Written by her own Hand many years ago. 1774; edited and introduction by Daniel B. Shea, in William L. Andrews, gen. ed., Journeys in New Worlds: Early American Women’s Narratives (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), pp. 147-176; permission pending. Footnotes by Shea; bracketed notes by NHC. Complete image credits at nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/becomingamer/imagecredits.htm. 1 Psalm 119:71. 2 Indenture: An agreement that, when legally executed, bound an emigrant to a period of service under a master who paid the servant’s passage to America. [Shea footnote continues.]




In Nine Weeks from the time I left Ireland we arrived at New York, (viz) [i.e.] on the 15th of the 7 mo 1732 & then those to whom I had been Instrumental under Providence to save Life, proved Treacherous to me: I was a Stranger in a Strange Land.3 The Captain got an Indenture wrote & Demanded of me to Sign it, withal Threatning a Gaol [jail] if I refused it; I told him I could find means to Satisfy him [funds to pay him] for my Passage without becoming bound [as a servant]: they then told me I might take my Choice Either to Sign that, or have that I had signed in Ireland in force against me (by this time I had learned the Character of the afforesaid Woman, that she was a Vile Creature, & feared that if ever I was in her Power she would use me Ill on her Brother’s Account). I therefore in a fright Signed that, & tho’ there was no Magistrate present, I being Ignorant in such Cases, it Did well enough to Make me a Servant four Years.

In two Weeks time I was Sold, & Were it Possible to Convey in Characters a sense of the Sufferings of my Servitude, it would make the most strong heart pity the Misfortunes of a young creature as I was, who had a Tender Education; for tho’ my Father had no great Estate, yet he lived well. I had been used to Little but my School, but now it had been better for me if I had been brought up to more hardship. For a While at first I was Pretty well used, but in a Little time the Scale turned. Occasioned by a Difference that happened between my Master & me,4 wherein I was Innocent: from that time he set himself against me and was Inhuman. He would not suffer [allow] me to have Clothes to be Decent in, having to go barefoot in his Service in the Snowey Weather & the Meanest drudgery, wherein I Suffered the Utmost Hardship that my Body was able to Bear, which, with the afforesaid Troubles, had like to have been my Ruin to all Eternity had not Almighty God in Mercy interposed. . . .

“I Suffered the Utmost Hardship that my Body was able to Bear”

To one Woman (& no other) I had Discovered the Nature of the Difference which Two years before had happened between My master & Me; by her means he heard of it, & tho’ he knew it was True yet he sent for the Town Whipper to Correct me. I was Called In; he never asked me Whether I had told any such thing but ordered me to strip; at which my heart was ready to burst; for I could as freely have given up my Life as Suffer such Ignominy. I then said if there be a God, be graciously Pleased to Look down on one of the most unhappy Creatures & plead my Cause for thou knows what I have said is the truth; and were it not for a principle more noble than he was Capable of I would have told it before his wife. I then fixed my Eyes on the Barbarous man, & in a flood of Tears said: “Sir, if you would have no Pity on me, yet for my Father’s Sake spare me from this Shame (for before this time had heard of my Father &C. several ways) & if you think I deserve such punishment, do it your Self.” He then took a turn over the Room & bid the Whipper go about his business, and I came off without a blow, which I thought something Remarkable, but now I began to think my Credit was gone (for they said many things of me which I blessed God were not True) & here I suffer so much Cruelty I cannot bear it. The Enemy [i.e., Satan] Immediately Came in & put me in a way how to be rid of it all & tempted me to End my Miserable Life: I joyn’d with it & for that Purpose went into the garret to hang my Self. Now it was I was convinced there was a God, for as my feet Entered the Place Horrour seized to that degree, I trembled much, and as I stood like the one in Amaze, it seemed as tho’ I heard a Voice say, “there is a Hell beyond the grave;” at which I was greatly astonished, & now Convinced that there was an almighty Power, to whom I then Prayed, saying, “God be merciful & Enable me to bear what thou in thy Providence shall bring or Suffer to Come upon me for my Disobedience.” I then went Down again but Let none know what I had been about. Soon after this I had a Dream, & tho’ some make a ridicule of Dreams, yet this seemed a significant one to me & therefore shall mention it. I thought somebody knocked at the Door, by which when I had opened it there stood a Grave woman, holding in her right hand an oil lamp

3 Moses so describes himself living among the Egyptians (see Exodus 2:22). 4 Shea notes that the “difference” was “most likely his attempt to take sexual advantage of his young servant, a not uncommon result of the servant’s status as property.” Shea, in Williams, p. 128, citing Sharon V. Salinger, “To Serve Well and Faithfully”: Labor and Indentured Servants in Pennsyl- vania, 1682-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 1987), iii.

National Humanities Center 2




National Humanities Center 3

esiring to see me again had sent for me home, but my proud heart would not




burning, who with a Solid Countenance fixed her Eyes upon me & said⎯ “I am sent to tell thee that If thou’l return to the Lord thy God, who hath Created thee, he will have mercy on thee, & thy Lamp shall not be put out in obscure darkness;” upon which the Light flamed from the Lamp in an extraordinary Manner, & She left me and I awoke. But alas! I did not give up nor Comply with the heavenly Vision, as I think I may Call it, for after this I had like to have been caught in another Snare, which if I had would Probably have been my Ruin, from which I was also preserved. I was Counted a fine Singer & Dancer, in which I took great Delight. and once falling in with some of the Play house company then at New York, they took a Great fancy to me, as they said, & Perswaded me to become an Actress amongst them, & they would find means to get me from my cruel Servitude, & I should Live Like a Lady⎯The Proposal took with me & I used no small Pains to Qualify my Self for it Reading their Play Books, even when I should have Slept, yet was put to the Demur when I came to Consider what my Father would say who had forgiven my Disobedience in marrying and earnestly d Consent to return in so mean a Condition; therefore I chose Bondage rather. So when I had Served near three years, I bough

“So when I had Served near three years, I bought off the remainder of my Time & then took to my needle,

by which I could maintain my Self handsomely”

off the remainder of my Time [indenture contract] & then took to my Needle [became a seamstress], by which I could maintain my Self handsomely: but, alas, I was not Sufficiently Punished; I had got release from one cruel Servitude & then not Contented got into another, and this for Life. A few months after, I married a young man that fell in Love with me for my Dancing, a Poor Motive for a man to Choose a Wife, or a Woman a Husband. But for my Part I fell in Love with nothing I saw in him and it seems unaccountable that I who had refused several, both in this Country & Ireland, as Last married a man I had no Value for.5

Ashbridge’s second marriage dissolved when she became a Quaker (her husband deserted her and died in the British army), and she wrote her memoir before marrying a fellow Quaker, Aaron Ashbridge, in 1746. She died nine years later on a return trip to Ireland. Little is known about her beyond the “account of the fore part” of her life.


Maryland State Archives

Indenture contract, Maryland, 1682, detail

5 See excerpts relating to Ashbridge’s second marriage and her decision to become a Quaker, in History Matters (George Mason University and the City University of New York) at historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6511.



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The Sin of Slaveholding Digital History ID 80

Author: Samuel Sewall Date:1700


On January 14, 1697, Samuel Sewall (1652-1730), a leading merchant and one of the Salem judges, publicly repented his role in the witch trials. Three years later he published one of the first antislavery tracts in American history.

In colonial America, there was no sharp division between a slave South and a free-labor North. New England was involved in the Atlantic slave trade from the mid-1600s to the 1780s. In the years preceding the American Revolution, slavery could be found in all the American colonies. By the mid-eighteenth century, slaves made up almost 8 percent of the population in Pennsylvania, 40 percent in Virginia, and 70 percent in South Carolina. During the second quarter of the eighteenth century, a fifth of Boston’s families owned slaves; and in New York City in 1746, slaves performed about a third of the city’s manual labor.

In the North, slaves were used in both agricultural and non-agricultural employment, especially in highly productive farming and stock-raising for the West Indian market in southern Rhode Island, Long Island, and New Jersey. Slaves not only served as household servants for an urban elite–cooking, doing laundry, and cleaning stables–they also worked in rural industry, in salt works, iron works, and tanneries. In general, slaves were not segregated into distinct racial ghettoes; instead, they lived in back rooms, lofts, attics, and alley shacks. Many slaves fraternized with lower-class whites. But in the mid-eighteenth century, racial separation increased, as a growing proportion of the white working-class began to express bitter resentment over competition from slave labor. The African American response in the North to increased racial antagonism and discrimination was apparent in a growing consciousness and awareness of Africa and the establishment of separate African churches and benevolent societies.

In this extract, Sewall critically examines the rationalizations that were used to justify slavery. His tract’s title refers to the Old Testament story in which Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.


Forasmuch as liberty is in real value next to life, none ought to part with it themselves, or deprivate others of it, but upon most mature consideration.

The numerousness of slaves at this day in the province, and the uneasiness of them under their slavery, has put many upon thinking whether the foundation of it be firmly and well laid, so as to sustain the vast weight that is built upon it. It is most certain that all men, as they are the sons of Adam, are coheirs, and have equal right unto liberty, and all other outward comforts of life….

Originally and naturally, there is no such thing as slavery. Joseph was rightfully no more a slave to his brethren than they were to him; and they had no more authority to sell him than they had to slay him….

And all things considered, it would conduce more to the welfare of the province to have white servants for a term of years than to have slaves for life. Few can endure to hear of a Negro’s being made free, and indeed they can seldom use their freedom well; yet their continual aspiring after their forbidden liberty renders them unwilling servants. And there is such a disparity in their conditions, color, and hair that they can never embody



with us and grow up into orderly families, to the peopling of the land, but still remain in our body politic as a kind of extravasat[ed] blood…. Moreover, it is too well known what temptations masters are under to connive at the fornication of their slaves, lest they should be obliged to find them wives, or pay their fines….

It is likewise most lamentable to think, how in taking Negroes out of Africa and selling of them here, that which God has joined together men do boldly rent asunder–men from their wives, parents from their children. How horrible is the uncleanness, mortality, if not murder, that the ships are guilty of that bring great crowds of these miserable men and women. Methinks, when we are bemoaning the barbarous usage of our friends and kinfolk in Africa, it might not be unseasonable to inquire whether we are not culpable in forcing the Africans to become slaves among ourselves. And it may be a question whether all the benefit received by Negro slaves will balance the account of cash laid out upon them, and for the redemption of our own enslaved friends out of Africa, besides all the persons and estates that have perished there.

Objection 1. These blackamoors are of the posterity of Ham, and therefore under the curse of slavery (Gen. 9:25-27).

Answer….If this ever was a commission, how do we know but that it is long since out of date?…But it is possible that by cursory reading this text may have been mistaken….

Objection 2. The Negroes are brought out of a pagan country into places where the Gospel is preached.

Answer. Evil must not be done that good may come of it….

Objection 3. The Africans have wars one with another. Our ships bring lawful captives taken in those wars.

Answer….If they be between town and town, provincial or national, every war is upon one side unjust. An unlawful war can’t make lawful captives. And by receiving, we are in danger to promote and partake in their barbarous cruelties.

The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial, Boston, 17

Source: Samuel Sewall, The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial (Boston: printed by Bartholomew Green and John Allen, 1700).

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Virginia Slave Laws Digital History ID 71



Black slavery took root in the American colonies slowly. Historians now know that small numbers of Africans lived in Virginia before 1619, the year a Dutch ship sold some twenty blacks (probably from the West Indies) to the colonists. But it was not until the 1680s that black slavery became the dominant labor system on plantations there. As late as 1640, there were probably only 150 blacks in Virginia and in 1650, 300. But by 1680, the number had risen to 3,000 and by 1704, to 10,000.

Until the mid-1660s, the number of white indentured servants was sufficient to meet the labor needs of Virginia and Maryland. Then, in the mid-1660s, the supply of white servants fell sharply. Many factors contributed to the growing shortage of servants. The English birth rate had begun to fall and with fewer workers competing for jobs, wages in England rose. The great fire that burned much of London in 1666 created a great need for labor to rebuild the city. Meanwhile, Virginia and Maryland became less attractive as land grew scarcer. Many preferred to migrate to Pennsylvania or the Carolinas, where opportunities seemed greater. To replenish its labor force, planters in the Chesapeake region increasingly turned to enslaved Africans. In 1680, just seven percent of the population of Virginia and Maryland consisted of slaves; twenty years later, the figure was 22 percent. Most of these slaves did not come directly from Africa, but from Barbados and other Caribbean colonies or from the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, which the English had conquered in 1664 and renamed New York.

The status of blacks in seventeenth century Virginia was extremely complex. Some were permanently unfree; others, like indentured servants, were allowed to own property and marry and were freed after a term of service. Some were even allowed to testify against whites in court and purchase white servants. In at least one county, black slaves who could prove that they had been baptized successfully sued for their freedom. There was even a surprising degree of tolerance of sexual intermixture and marriages across racial lines.

As early as the late 1630s, however, English colonists began to distinguish between the status of white servants and black slaves. In 1639, Maryland became the first colony to specifically state that baptism as a Christian did not make a slave a free person.

During the 1660s and 1670s, Maryland and Virginia adopted laws specifically designed to denigrate blacks. These laws banned interracial marriages and sexual relations and deprived blacks of property. Other laws prohibited blacks from bearing arms or traveling without written permission. In 1669, Virginia became the first colony to declare that it was not a crime to kill an unruly slave in the ordinary course of punishment. That same year, Virginia also prohibited masters from freeing slaves unless the freedmen were deported from the colony. Virginia also voted to banish any white man or woman who married a black, mulatto, or Indian.

The imposition of a more rigid system of racial slavery was acommpanied by improved status for white servants. Unlike slaves, white servants and free workers could not be stripped naked and whipped. As the historian Edmund S. Morgan has suggested, a hardening of racial lines contributed to a growth in a commitment to democracy, liberty, and equality among white men.




December 1662

Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother; and that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a Negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.

September 1667

Whereas some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners made partakers of the blessed sacrament of baptism, should by virtue of their baptism be made free, it is enacted and declared by this Grand Assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom; that diverse masters, freed from this doubt may more carefully endeavor the propagation of Christianity by permitting children, through slaves, or those of greater growth if capable, to be admitted to that sacrament.

September 1668

Whereas it has been questioned whether servants running away may be punished with corporal punishment by their master or magistrate, since the act already made gives the master satisfaction by prolonging their time by service, it is declared and enacted by this Assembly that moderate corporal punishment inflicted by master or magistrate upon a runaway servant shall not deprivate the master of the satisfaction allowed by the law, the one being as necessary to reclaim them from persisting in that idle course as the other is just to repair the damages sustained by the master.

October 1669

Whereas the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistress, or overseer cannot be inflicted upon Negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them be suppressed by other than violent means, be it enacted and declared by this Grand Assembly if any slave resists his master (or other by his master’s order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accounted a felony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquitted from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that premeditated malice (which alone makes murder a felony) should induce any man to destroy his own estate.

William Waller Hening, Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia (Richmond: Samuel Pleasants, 1809-1823), II, 170, 260, 266, 270

Source: William Waller Hening, Statues at Large; Being a Collection of All of the Laws of Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Samuel Pleasnats, 1809-23), Vol. II, pp. 170, 260, 266, 270.

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South Carolina Digital History ID 89

Author: James Moore Date:1698


South Carolina’s proprietors envisioned establishing a feudal society in their land grant. They kept huge landed estates for themselves, and, with the assistance of the English philosopher John Locke, drew up a plan, known as the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, which would have given them the power of feudal lords. The scheme called for a three-tiered hereditary nobility–consisting of “proprietors,” “landgraves,” and “caciques”– who would own forty percent of the colony’s land and serve as a Council of Lords and recommend all laws to a parliament elected by small landowners. But like other feudal visions, this one failed. South Carolina’s settlers rejected virtually all of this plan and immigrants refused to move to the region until it was replaced by a more democratic system of government.

Emigrants from Barbados played a decisive role in South Carolina’s early settlement in 1679 and 1680, and brought black slaves with them. Within a decade, they had found a staple crop–rice–which they could raise with slave labor. The grain itself had probably come from West Africa and African slaves were already familiar with rice cultivation. The result was to transform South Carolina into the mainland society that bore the closest resemblance to the Caribbean. As early as 1708, slaves actually outnumbered whites and by 1730 there were twice as many slaves as whites in the colony. About a third of South Carolina’s slaves during the early eighteenth century were Indians.

The rapid growth in the slave population raised the specter of slave revolt. In 1739, the Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in colonial America, took place about twenty miles from Charleston. Led by a slave named Jemmy, the rebels burned seven plantations and killed approximately 20 whites as they headed for refuge in Spanish Florida. Within a day, however, the Stono rebels were captured and killed by the white militia.

South Carolina was also the scene of some of the most bitter Indian-white warfare. In 1711, after incidents in which whites had encroached on their land and kidnapped Indians as slaves, the Tuscaroras destroyed New Bern. Over the next two years, the colonial militia, assisted by the Yamassees, killed or enslaved a fifth of the Tuscaroras. Many survivors subsequently migrated to New York, where they became the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. Then, in 1715, the Yamassees, finding themselves increasingly in debt to white traders and merchants, allied themselves with the Creeks and attempted to destroy the colony. With help from the Cherokees, the colonial militia successfully repelled the offensive, largely ending Indian resistance to white expansion in the Carolinas.

Writing just twenty years after the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in South Carolina, James Moore recounts a journey he had taken eight years earlier, during which he had uncovered several kinds of ores and minerals. Indians he encountered informed him that the Spanish had been operating mines in the area; and that the indigenous people had killed the Spaniards in order to avoid being enslaved by them. Moore expresses concern about making a discovery of silver public, for it might “incite & encourage the French in America.” He asks Edward Randolph, the royal surveyor, to bring this information to the attention of the royal government.




James Moore to Edward Randolph

As well out of curiosity to see what sort of Country we might have in land as to find out and make a new & farther discovery of Indian Trade, I made a Journey in the year 1690 over the Apalathean Mountains [Appalachian] in which Journey I took up seven sorts of ores or mineral stones, all differing either in weight, color, smell or some other qualities.

By my friend col[one]l Maurice Mathews I sent these to be try’d [tested] to England, he had them try’d and sent me a word two of the seven sorts were very good and one Indifferent. By the Help of my Journal I can go to every Individual place I took up any of the seven sorts of ores. In the same Journey I was informed that the Spaniards had been actually at work upon mines within Twenty miles of me I enquired of the Natives of the truth of that matter and the reason why they desisted. They told me it was true and described to me their great Bellows & furnaces, and that they killed the Spaniards…when…the Spaniards grew Numerous [fearing that] they [the Spanish] should make slaves of them to worke in those mines as they had Millions of other Indians as they said they had been informed….

Reflecting S[i]r on the weakness of this our Colony & considering that the report of a silver mind among us would incite & encourage the French in America, if not in Europe, to Invade us. I thought it convenient during the War between the Crowns of England & France not to make any discovery of them. Now S[i]r By the Peace the Emperor hath made with the Turks and the recovery of the King of Spain (if those reports are true) the Peace between England and France seems to be well confirmed and Lasting. I think this poor little colony of ours may not only be out of Danger of an Invasion, but be peopled and enriched by the working of these mines….

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: James Moore to Edward Randolph

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America as a Land of Opportunity Digital History ID 85

Author: and Benjamin Franklin Date:1751


Perhaps the most important essay written by an American during the eighteenth century, Franklin’s “Observations Concerning the Increase of mankind” was one of the first serious studies of demography. In the early nineteenth century it would serve as an inspiration for Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who based his grim law of population (that population would inevitably outstrip the food supply) on Franklin’s calculations. But Franklin’s argument was, in fact, quite different from Malthus’s bleak prophesy. Franklin, like other Americans as late as Lincoln, held to a belief that no man in America needed to long remain a laborer for others. Despite the doubling of the population in every twenty years or so, America remained a land of opportunity, where wages remained high and even slaves were expensive.

What is perhaps most striking about Franklin’s essay today is his sophisticated use of “social science” data to convince the British ministry to alter its colonial policies. Particularly jarring, however, is Franklin’s plea that America be maintained as an entirely Anglo-Saxon society.


Europe is generally full settled with Husbandmen, Manufacturers, &c. and therefore cannot now much increase in People: America is chiefly occupied by Indians, who subsist mostly by Hunting. But as the Hunter, of all Men, requires the greatest Quantity of Land from whence to draw his Subsistence, (the Husbandman subsisting on much less, the Gardner on still less, and the Manufacturer requiring the least of all), The Europeans found America as fully settled as it well could bee by Hunters; yet these having large Tracks, were easily prevail’d on to part with Portions of Territory to the new Comers, who did not much interfere with the Natives in Hunting, and furnish’d them with many Things they wanted.

Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a labouring Man, that understands Husbandry, can in a short Time save Money enough to purchase a Piece of new Land sufficient for a Plantation, whereon he may subsist a Family; such are not afraid to marry; for if they even look far enough forward to consider how their Children when grown up are to be provided for, they see that more Land is to be had at Rates equally easy, all Circumstances considered.

Hence Marriages in America are more general, and more generally early, than in Europe. And if it is reckoned there, that there is but one Marriage per Annum among 100 Persons, perhaps we may here reckon two; and if in Europe they have but 4 Births to a Marriage (many of their Marriages being late) we may here reckon 8, of which if one half grow up, and our Marriages are made, reckoning one with another at 20 Years of Age, our People must at least be doubled every 20 Years.

But notwithstanding this Increase, so vast is the Territory of North-America, that it will require many Ages to settle it fully; and till it is fully settled, Labour will never be cheap here, where no Man continues long a Labourer for others, but gets a Plantation of his own, no Man continues long a Journeyman to a Trade but goes among those new Settlers, and set up for himself, &c. Hence Labour is no cheaper now, in Pennsylvania, than it was 30 Years ago, tho’ so many Thousand labouring People have been imported.



The Danger therefore of these Colonies interfering with their Mother Country in Trades that depend on Labour, Manufactures, &c. is too remote to require the Attention of Great-Britain.

But in Proportion to the Increase of the Colonies, a vast Demand is growing for British Manufacturers, a glorious Market wholly in the Power of Britain, in which Foreigners cannot interfere, which will increase in a short Time even beyond her Power of supplying, tho’ her whole Trade should be to her Colonies: Therefore Britain should not too much restrain Manufactures in her Colonies. A wise and good Mother will not do it. To distress, is to weaken, and weakening the Children, weakens the whole Family….

‘Tis an ill-grounded Opinion that by the Labour of Slaves, America may possibly vie in Cheapness of Manufactures with Britain. The Labour of Slaves can never be so cheap here as the Labour of working Men is in Britain. Any one may compute it. Interest of Money in the Colonies from 6 to 10 per Cent. Slaves one with another cost L30 Sterling per Head. Reckon then the Interest of the first Purchase of a Slave, the Insurance or Risque on his life, his Clothing and Diet, Expences in his Sickness and Loss of Time, Loss by his Neglect of Business (Neglect is natural to the Man who is not to be benefitted by his own Care or Diligence), Expense of a Driver to keep him at Work, and his Pilfering from Time to Time, almost every Slave being by Nature a Thief, and compare the whole Amount with the Wages of a Manufacturer of Iron or Wool in England, you will see that Labour is much cheaper there than it can ever be by Negroes here. Why then will Americans purchase Slaves? Because Slaves may be kept as long as a Man pleases, or has Occasion for their Labour; while hired Men are continually leaving their Master (often in the midst of his Business) and setting up for themselves.

….There are suppos’d to be now upwards of One Million English Souls in North-America, (tho’ ’tis thought scarce 80,000 have been brought over Sea) and yet perhaps there is not one the fewer in Britain, but rather more, on Account of the Employment the Colonies afford to Manufacturers at Home. This Million doubling, suppose but once in 25 Years, will in another Century be more than the People of England, and the greatest Number of Englishmen will be on this Side the Water. What an Accession of Power to the British Empire by Sea as well as Land! What Increase of Trade and Navigation! What Number of Ships and Seamen! We have been here but little more than 100 Years, and yet the Force of our Privateers in the late War, united, was greater, both in Men and Guns, than that of the whole British Navy in Queen Elizabeth’s Time….

And since Detachments of English from Britain sent to America, will have their Places at Home so soon supply’d and increase so largely here; why should the Palatine Boors [Germans] be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.

Source: Benjamin Franklin, “Observations Concerning the Increasing of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” (Boston: Printed by S. Kneeland, 1755)

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Life on the Plantation Digital History ID 4217

Author: Eliza Lucas Date:1740

Annotation: Eliza Lucas was only 16 when she took charge of her father’s plantation near Charles Town, South Carolina and successfully managed it. Her father, Lieutenant Colonel George Lucas, a British Army officer, became lieutenant governor of Antigua when war broke out with Spain. In her father’s absence, Eliza ran the plantation, tended her ailing mother, taught her younger sister, as well as two black children, to read and write, studied music and art, and wrote letters extensively. This letter was written to her “good friend Mrs. Boddicott.”

Document: I have the business of three plantations to transact, which requires much writing and rather more business and fatigue of other sorts than you can imagine. But lest you should imagine it too burdensome to a girl at my early time of life, I think myself happy that I can be useful to so good a father, and by rising very early I find that I can go through much business.

In general then I rise at five o’Clock in the morning, read till seven — then take a walk in the gardens or fields, see what the Servants are at their respective business, then to breakfast. The first hour after breakfast is spent in music, the next is constantly employed in recollecting something I have learned, least for want of practice it should be quite lost, such as French and short hand. After that, I devote the rest of the time till I dress for dinner, to our little Polly, and two black girls who I teach to read, and if I have my papa’s approbation (my mama’s I have got) I intend for school mistress’s for the rest of the Negroe children. Another scheme you see, but to proceed, the first hour after dinner, as the first after breakfast, at music, the rest of the afternoon in needle work till candle light, and from that time to bed time read or write; ’tis the fashion here to carry our work abroad with us so that having company, without they are great strangers, is no interruption to your affair, but I have particular matters for particular days which is an interruption to mine. Mondays my music Master is here. Tuesday my friend Mrs. Chardon (about 3 miles distant) and I are constantly engaged to each other, she at our house one Tuesday I at hers the next, and this is one of the happiest days I spent at Wappoo. Thursday the whole day except what the necessary affairs of the family take up, is spent in writing, either on the business of the plantations or on letters to my friends. Every other Friday, if no company, we go a visiting, so that I go abroad once a week and no oftener.

Source: The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1972). Edited by Elise Pinckney, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

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Responding to Advice From Her Father About How To Behave as a Wife Digital History ID 4215

Author: Eliza Lucas Date:1742

Annotation: This letter was written in 1742 in response to her father’s concern that Eliza would try to run her husband’s affairs. Fortunately, her husband, Charles Pinckney, the speaker of the South Carolina Assembly, did not try to force Eliza to retreat to her “proper province.”

Document: I am greatly obliged to you for your very good advice in my present happy relation. I think it entirely reasonable, and ’tis with great truth that I assure you ’tis not more my duty than my inclination to follow it; for making it the business of my life to please a man of Mr. Pinckney’s merit even in triffles, I esteem a pleasing task; and I am well assured the acting out of my proper province and invading his, would be an inexcusable breach of prudence; as his superiour understanding, (without any other consideration,) would point him to dictate, and leave me nothing but the easy task of obeying.

Source: The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1972). Edited by Elise Pinckney, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

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“They That Are Born There Talk Good English”: Hugh Jones Describes Virginia’s Slave Society, 1724 Slavery and a society based on slave labor were well established in the Chesapeake region by the third decade of the 18th century. Hugh Jones described the beginnings of African-American culture as slavery spread in the Chesapeake. Virginia’s slave population grew from 3,000 in 1680 to 13,000 in 1700. It further expanded to 27,000 by 1720. Despite Jones’s rosy picture, he effectively depicted the enslaved population’s contact with whites, the growth of a smaller group that spoke English, and the emergence of strong kinship bonds facilitated by a naturally increasing population, a first in the New World. Hugh Jones arrived from England and served as a minister in Jamestown and professor of mathematics at William and Mary. He authored The Present State of Virginia (1724) where he described the distinctive form of society emerging in Virginia of large and small landowners, poor white laborers, and enslaved Africans.

The Negroes live in small cottages called quarters, in about six in a gang, under the direction of an overseer or bailiff; who takes care that they tend such land as the owner allots and orders, upon which they raise hogs and cattle, and plant Indian corn (or maize) and tobacco for the use of their master; out of which the overseer has a dividend (or share) in proportion to the number of hands including himself; this with several privileges is his salary, and is an ample recompence for his pains, and encouragement of his industrious care, as to the labour, health, and provision of the Negroes.

The Negroes are very numerous, some gentlemen having hundreds of them of all sorts, to whom they bring great profit; for the sake of which they are obliged to keep them well, and not overwork, starve, or famish them, besides other inducements to favour them; which is done in a great degree, to such especially that are laborious, careful, and honest; though indeed some masters, careless of their own interest or reputation, are too cruel and negligent.

The Negroes are not only encreased by fresh supplies from Africa and the West India Islands, but also are very prolifick among themselves; and they that are born there talk good English, and affect our language, habits, and customs; and though they be naturally of a barbarous and cruel temper, yet are they kept under by severe discipline upon occasion, and by good laws are prevented from running away, injuring the English, or neglecting their business.

Their work (or chimerical hard slavery) is not very laborious; their greatest hardship consisting in that they and their posterity are not at their own liberty or disposal, but are the property of their owners; and when they are free, they know not how to provide so well for themselves generally; neither did they live so plentifully nor (many of them) so easily in their own country, where they are made slaves to one another, or taken captive by their enemies.



The children belong to the master of the woman that bears them; and such as are born of a Negroe and an European are called Molattoes; but such as are born of an Indian and Negroe are called Mustees.

Their work is to take care of the stock, and plant corn, tobacco, fruits, etc. which is not harder than thrashing, hedging, or ditching; besides, though they are out in the violent heat, wherein they delight, yet in wet or cold weather there is little occasion for their working in the fields, in which few will let them be abroad, lest by this means they might get sick or die, which would prove a great loss to their owners, a good Negroe being sometimes worth three (nay four) score pounds sterling, if he be a tradesman; so that upon this (if upon no other account) they are obliged not to overwork them, but to cloath and feed them sufficiently, and take care of their health.

Several of them are taught to be sawyers, carpenters, smiths, coopers, etc. and though for the most part they be none of the aptest or nicest; yet they are by nature cut out for hard labour and fatigue, and will perform tolerably well; though they fall much short of an Indian, that has learned and seen the same things; and those Negroes make the best servants, that have been slaves in their own country; for they that have been kings and great men there are generally lazy, haughty, and obstinate; whereas the others are sharper, better humoured, and more laborious.

The languages of the new Negroes are various harsh jargons, and their religions and customs such as are best described by Mr. Bosman in his book intitled (I think) A Description of the Coasts of Africa.

The Virginia planters readily learn to become good mechanicks in building, wherein most are capable of directing their servants and slaves… .

The country is yearly supplied with vast quantities of goods from Great Britain, chiefly from London, Bristol, Liverpool, Whitehaven, and from Scotland. The ships that transport these things often call at Ireland to victual, and bring over frequently white servants, which are of three kinds, 1. Such as come upon certain wages by agreement for a certain time. 2. Such as come bound by indenture, commonly called kids, who are usually to serve four or five years; and 3. those convicts or felons that are transported, whose room they had much rather have than their company; for abundance of them do great mischiefs, commit robbery and murder, and spoil servants, that were before very good: But they frequently there meet with the end they deserved at home, though indeed some of them prove indifferent good. Their being sent thither to work as slaves for punishment, is but a mere notion, for few of them ever lived so well and so easy before, especially if they are good for any thing. These are to serve seven, and sometimes fourteen years, and they and servants by indentures have an allowance of corn and cloaths, when they are out of their time, that they may be therewith supported, till they can be provided with services, or otherwise settled. With these three sorts of servants are they supplied from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among which they that have a mind to it, may serve their time with ease and satisfaction to themselves and their masters, especially if they fall into good hands.

Except the last sort, for the most part who are loose villains, made tame by Wild, and then enslaved by his Forward namesake: To prevent too great a stock of which servants and Negroes many attempts and laws have been in vain made.

These if they forsake their roguery together with the other kids of the later Jonathan, when they are free, may work day-labour, or else rent a small plantation for a trifle almost; or else turn overseers, if they are expert, industrious, and careful, or follow their trade, if they have been brought up to any; especially smiths, carpenters, taylors, sawyers, coopers, bricklayers, etc. The plenty of the country, and the good wages given to workfolks occasion very few poor, who are supported by the parish, being such as are lame, sick, or decrepit through age, distempers, accidents, or some infirmities; for where there is a numerous family of poor children the vestry takes care to bind them out apprentices, till they are able to maintain themselves by their own labour; by which means they are never tormented with vagrant, and vagabond beggars, there being a reward for taking up runaways, that are at a small distance from their home; if they are not known, or are without a pass from their master, and can



give no good account of themselves, especially Negroes.. . .

It is a monkish opinion too prevalent with many still, that there is no good living without the bounds of their own cloyster. An abundance of English entertain the Chinese notion, that they are all fools and beggars that live in any country but theirs. This home fondness has been very prejudicial to the common sort of English, and has in a great measure retarded the plantations from being stocked with such inhabitants as are skilful, industrious, and laborious.

For these reasons, such persons of sense and resolution as have entered into projects for improvements in the plantations (who have evinced us, that all schemes are not bubbles) have been obliged for the generality to make use of the worst and vilest of mankind, for the execution of the noblest and most useful undertakings; though indeed continually several people of sense, vertue, and fortune, entertaining tolerable good notions of these affairs, have embarked themselves and families in such laudable and useful designs: But for the generality, the servants and inferior sort of people, who have either been sent over to Virginia, or have transported themselves thither, have been, and are, the poorest, idlest, and worst of mankind, the refuse of Great Britain and Ireland, and the outcast of the people.

These servants are but an insignificant number, when compared with the vast shoals of Negroes who are imployed as slaves there to do the hardest and most part of the work; the most laborious of which is the felling of trees and the like, to which kind of slavery (if it must be so called) our woodcutters in England are exposed; only with this difference, that the Negroes eat wholesomer bread and better pork with more plenty and ease; and when they are sick, their owners interest and purse are deeply engaged in their recovery, who likewise are obliged to take all the care imaginable of the children of their slaves for their own great profit; so that the Negroes, though they work moderately, yet live plentifully, have no families to provide for, no danger of beggary, no care for the morrow.

Source: Hugh Jones. The Present State of Virginia (London, 1724), 75–76, 87–88, 130.



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“To Redeem My Family”: Venture Smith Frees Himself and his Family Free labor provided possibilities for emancipation for some enslaved people. The most industrious and the most skilled of the enslaved could take greater advantage of these opportunities. Venture Smith had been born in the 1720s, the son of a West African prince who named him Broteer Furro. Slave traders captured him at the age of six, spirited him away to the coast, and transported him to a life of enslavement in Long Island and eastern Connecticut. After several changes of ownership, he was able to purchase his freedom by his labors at the age of 31. Those labors, along with his entrepreneurial activities such as fishing, working on a whaler, and agricultural activities, made possible the purchase of his son, daughter, and wife’s liberty. Near the end of the 18th century he related his life history to Elisha Niles, a schoolteacher and Revolutionary war veteran. Published in 1798, A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself recounted his successful negotiation of the slavery economy and recognition of free labor as the key to a free identity.

I was born at Dukandarra, in Guinea, about the year 1729. My father’s name was Saungm Furro, Prince of the Tribe of Dukandarra. My father had three wives. Polygamy was not uncommon in that country, especially among the rich, as every man was allowed to keep as many wives as he could maintain. By his first wife he had three children. The eldest of them was myself, named by my father, Broteer. The other two were named Cundazo and Soozaduka. My father had two children by his second wife, and one by his third. I descended from a very large, tall and stout race of beings, much larger than the generality of people in other parts of the globe, being commonly considerable above six feet in height, and every way well proportioned. …

On a certain time I and other prisoners were put on board a canoe, under our master, and rowed away to a vessel belonging to Rhode-Island, commanded by capt. Collingwood, and the mate Thomas Mumford. While we were going to the vessel, our master told us all to appear to the best possible advantage for sale. I was bought on board by one Robertson Mumford, steward of said vessel, for four gallons of rum, and a piece of calico, and called VENTURE, on account of his having purchased me with his own private venture. Thus I came by my name. All the slaves that were bought for that vessel’s cargo, were two hundred and sixty.

After all the business was ended on the coast of Africa, the ship sailed from thence to Barbadoes. After an ordinary passage, except great mortality by the small pox, which broke out on board, we arrived at the island of Barbadoes: but when we reached it, there were found out of the two hundred and sixty that sailed from Africa, not more than two hundred alive. These were all sold, except myself and three more, to the planters there.

The vessel then sailed for Rhode-Island, and arrived there after a comfortable passage. Here my master sent me to live with one of his sisters, until he could carry me to Fisher’s Island, the place of his residence. I had then completed my eighth year. After staying with his sister some time I was taken to my master’s place to live….



The first of the time of living at my master’s own place, I was pretty much employed in the house at carding wool and other household business. In this situation I continued for some years, after which my master put me to work out of doors. After many proofs of my faithfulness and honesty, my master began to put great confidence in me. My behavior to him had as yet been submissive and obedient. I then began to have hard tasks imposed on me. Some of these were to pound four bushels of ears of corn every night in a barrel for the poultry, or be rigorously punished. At other seasons of the year I had to card wool until a very late hour. These tasks I had to perform when I was about nine years old. Some time after I had another difficulty and oppression which was greater than any I had ever experienced since I came into this country. This was to serve two masters. James Mumford, my master’s son, when his father had gone from home in the morning, and given me a stint to perform that day, would order me to do this and that business different from what my master directed me. One day in particular, the authority which my master’s son had set up, had like to have produced melancholy effects. For my master having set me off my business to perform that day and then left me to perform it, his son came up to me in the course of the day, big with authority, and commanded me very arrogantly to quit my present business and go directly about what he should order me. I replied to him that my master had given me so much to perform that day, and that I must therefore faithfully complete it in that time. He then broke out into a great rage, snatched a pitchfork and went to lay me over the head therewith; but I as soon got another and defended myself with it, or otherwise be might have murdered me in his outrage. He immediately called some people who were within hearing at work for him, and ordered them to take his hair rope and come and bind me with it. They all tried to bind me but in vain, tho’ there were three assistants in number. My upstart master then desisted, put his pocket handkerchief before his eyes and went home with a design to tell his mother of the struggle with young VENTURE. He told her that their young VENTURE had become so stubborn that he could not controul him, and asked her what he should do with him. In the mean time I recovered my temper, voluntarily caused myself to be bound by the same men who tried in vain before, and carried before my young master, that he might do what he pleased with me. He took me to a gallows made for the purpose of hanging cattle on, and suspended me on it. Afterwards he ordered one of his hands to go to the peach orchard and cut him three dozen of whips to punish me with. These were brought to him, and that was all that was done with them, as I was released and went to work after hanging on the gallows about an hour.

After I had lived with my master thirteen years, being then about twenty two years old, I married Meg, a slave of his who was about my age. My master owned a certain Irishman, named Heddy, who about that time formed a plan of secretly leaving his master. After he had long had this plan in meditation he suggested it to me. At first I cast a deaf ear to it, and rebuked Heddy for harboring in his mind such a rash undertaking. But after he had persuaded and much enchanted me with the prospect of gaining my freedom by such a method, I at length agreed to accompany him. Heddy next inveigled two of his fellow servants to accompany us. The place to which we designed to go was the Mississippi. Our next business was to lay in a sufficient store of provisions for our voyage. We privately collected out of our master’s store, six great old cheeses, two firkins of butter, and one whole batch of new bread. When we had gathered all our own clothes and some more, we took them all about midnight, and went to the water side. We stole our master’s boat, embarked, and then directed our course for the Mississippi river.

We mutually confederated not to betray or desert one another on pain of death. We first steered our course for Montauk point, the east end of Long-Island. After our arrival there we landed, and Heddy and I made an incursion into the island after fresh water, while our two comrades were left at a little distance from the boat, employed at cooking. When Heddy and I had sought some time for water, he returned to our companions, and I continued on looking for my object. When Heddy had performed his business with our companions who were engaged in cooking, he went directly to the boat, stole all the clothes in it, and then travelled away for East- Hampton, as I was informed. I returned to my fellows not long after. They informed me that our clothes were stolen, but could not determine who was the thief, yet they suspected Heddy as he was missing. After reproving my two comrades for not taking care of our things which were in the boat, I advertised Heddy and sent two men in search of him. They pursued and overtook him at Southampton and returned him to the boat. I then thought it might afford some chance for my freedom, or at least a palliation for my running away, to return Heddy immediately to his master, and inform him that I was induced to go away by Heddy’s address. Accordingly I set



off with him and the rest of my companions for our master’s, and arrived there without any difficulty. I informed my master that Heddy was the ringleader of our revolt, and that he had used us ill. He immediately put Heddy into custody, and myself and companions were well received and went to work as usual.

Not a long time passed after that, before Heddy was sent by my master to New-London gaol. At the close of that year I was sold to a Thomas Stanton, and had to be separated from my wife and one daughter, who was about one month old. He resided at Stonington-point. To this place I brought with me from my late master’s, two johannes, three old Spanish dollars, and two thousand of coppers, besides five pounds of my wife’s money. This money I got by cleaning gentlemen’s shoes and drawing boots, by catching musk-rats and minks, raising potatoes and carrots, &c. and by fishing in the night, and at odd spells.

All this money amounting to near twenty-one pounds York currency, my master’s brother, Robert Stanton, hired of me, for which he gave me his note. About one year and a half after that time, my master purchased my wife and her child, for seven hundred pounds old tenor. One time my master sent me two miles after a barrel of molasses, and ordered me to carry it on my shoulders. I made out to carry it all the way to my master’s house. When I lived with Captain George Mumford, only to try my strength, I took up on my knees a tierce of salt containing seven bushels, and carried it two or three rods. Of this fact there are several eye witnesses now living.

Towards the close of the time that I resided with this master, I had a falling out with my mistress. This happened one time when my master was gone to Long-Island a gunning. At first the quarrel began between my wife and her mistress. I was then at work in the barn, and hearing a racket in the house, induced me to run there and see what had broken out. When I entered the house, I found my mistress in a violent passion with my wife, for what she informed me was a mere trifle; such a small affair that I forbear to put my mistress to the shame of having it known. I earnestly requested my wife to beg pardon of her mistress for the sake of peace, even if she had given no just occasion for offence. But whilst I was thus saying my mistress turned the blows which she was repeating on my wife to me. She took down her horse-whip, and while she was glutting her fury with it, I reached out my great black hand, raised it up and received the blows of the whip on it which were designed for my head. Then I immediately committed the whip to the devouring fire.

When my master returned from the island, his wife told him of the affair, but for the present he seemed to take no notice of it, and mentioned not a word about it to me. Some days after his return, in the morning as I was putting on a log in the fire-place, not suspecting harm from any one, I received a most violent stroke on the crown of my head with a club two feet long and as large round as a chair-post. This blow very badly wounded my head, and the scar of it remains to this day. The first blow made me have my wits about me you may suppose, for as soon as he went to renew it, I snatched the club out of his hands and dragged him out of the door. He then sent for his brother to come and assist him, but I presently left my master, took the club he wounded me with, carried it to a neighboring Justice of the Peace, and complained of my master. He finally advised me to return to my master, and live contented with him till he abused me again, and then complain. I consented to do accordingly. But before I set out for my master’s, up he come and his brother Robert after me. The Justice improved this convenient opportunity to caution my master. He asked him for what he treated his slave thus hastily and unjustly, and told him what would be the consequence if he continued the same treatment towards me. After the Justice had ended his discourse with my master, he and his brother set out with me for home, one before and the other behind me.

When they had come to a bye place, they both dismounted their respective horses, and fell to beating me with great violence. I became enraged at this and immediately turned them both under me, laid one of them across the other, and stamped both with my feet what I would.

This occasioned my master’s brother to advise him to put me off. A short time after this I was taken by a constable and two men. They carried me to a blacksmith’s shop and had me hand-cuffed. When I returned home my mistress enquired much of her waiters, whether VENTURE was hand-cuffed. When she was informed that I was, she appeared to be very contented and was much transported with the news. In the midst of this content and



joy, I presented myself before my mistress, shewed her my hand-cuffs, and gave her thanks for my gold rings. For this my master commanded a negro of his to fetch him a large ox chain. This my master locked on my legs with two padlocks. I continued to wear the chain peaceably for two or three days, when my master asked me with contemptuous hard names whether I had not better be freed from my chains and go to work. I answered him, No. Well then, said me, I will send you to the West-Indies or banish you, for I am resolved not to keep you. I answered him I crossed the waters to come here, and I am willing to cross them to return. For a day or two after this not any one said much to me, until one Hempsted Miner, of Stonington, asked me if I would live with him. I answered him that I would. He then requested me to make myself discontented and to appear as unreconciled to my master as I could before that he bargained with him for me; and that in return he would give me a good chance to gain my freedom when I came to live with him. I did as he requested me. Not long after Hempsted Miner purchased me of my master for fifty-six pounds lawful. He took the chain and padlocks from off me immediately after.

It may here be remembered, that I related a few pages back, that I hired out a sum of money to Mr. Robert Stanton, and took his note for it. In the fray between my master Stanton and myself, he broke open my chest containing his brother’s note to me, and destroyed it. Immediately after my present master bought me, he determined to sell me at Hartford. As soon as I became apprized of it, I bethought myself that I would secure a certain sum of money which lay by me, safer than to hire it out to a Stanton. Accordingly I buried it in the earth, a little distance from Thomas Stanton’s, in the road over which he passed daily. A short time after my master carried me to Hartford, and first proposed to sell me to one William Hooker of that place. Hooker asked whether I would go to the German Flats with him. I answered, No. He said I should, if not by fair means I should by foul. If you will go by no other measures, I will tie you down in my sleigh. I replied to him, that if he carried me in that manner, no person would purchase me, for it would be thought that he had a murderer for sale. After this he tried no more, and said he would not have me as a gift.

My master next offered me to Daniel Edwards, Esq. of Hartford, for sale. But not purchasing me, my master pawned me to him for ten pounds, and returned to Stonington. After some trial of my honesty, Mr. Edwards placed considerable trust and confidence in me. He put me to serve as his cup-bearer and waiter. When there was company at his house, he would send me into his cellar and other parts of his house to fetch wine and other articles occasionally for them. When I had been with him some time, he asked me why my master wished to part with such an honest negro, and why he did not keep me himself. I replied that I could not give him the reason, unless it was to convert me into cash, and speculate with me as with other commodities. I hope that he can never justly say it was on account of my ill conduct that he did not keep me himself. Mr. Edwards told me that he should be very willing to keep me himself, and that he would never let me go from him to live, if it was not unreasonable and inconvenient for me to be parted from my wife and children; therefore he would furnish me with a horse to return to Stonington, if I had a mind for it. As Miner did not appear to redeem me I went, and called at my old master Stanton’s first to see my wife, who was then owned by him. As my old master appeared much ruffled at my being there, I left my wife before I had spent any considerable time with her, and went to Colonel O. Smith’s. Miner had not as yet wholly settled with Stanton for me, and had before my return from Hartford given Col. Smith a bill of sale of me. These men once met to determine which of them should hold me, and upon my expressing a desire to be owned by Col. Smith, and upon my master’s settling the remainder of the money which was due to Stanton for me, it was agreed that I should live with Col. Smith. This was the third time of my being sold, and I was then thirty-one years old. As I never had an opportunity of redeeming myself whilst I was owned by Miner, though he promised to give me a chance, I was then very ambitious of obtaining it. I asked my master one time if he would consent to have me purchase my freedom. He replied that he would. I was then very happy, knowing that I was at that time able to pay part of the purchase money, by means of the money which I some time since buried. This I took out of the earth and tendered to my master, having previously engaged a free negro man to take his security for it, as I was the property of my master, and therefore could not safely take his obligation myself. What was wanting in redeeming myself, my master agreed to wait on me for, until I could procure it for him. I still continued to work for Col. Smith. There was continually some interest accruing on my master’s note to my friend the free negro man above named, which I received, and with some besides which I got by fishing, I laid out in land adjoining my old master Stanton’s. By cultivating this land with



the greatest diligence and economy, at times when my master did not require my labor, in two years I laid up ten pounds. This my friend tendered my master for myself, and received his note for it.

Being encouraged by the success which I had met in redeeming myself, I again solicited my master for a further chance of completing it. The chance for which I solicited him was that of going out to work the ensuing winter. He agreed to this on condition that I would give him one quarter of my earnings. On these terms I worked the following winter, and earned four pounds sixteen shillings, one quarter of which went to my master for the privilege, and the rest was paid him on my own account. This added to the other payments made up forty four pounds, eight shillings, which I had paid on my own account. I was then about thirty five years old.

The next summer I again desired he would give me a chance of going out to work. But he refused and answered that he must have my labor this summer, as he did not have it the past winter. I replied that I considered it as hard that I could not have a chance to work out when the season became advantageous, and that I must only be permitted to hire myself out in the poorest season of the year. He asked me after this what I would give him for the privilege per month. I replied that I would leave it wholly with his own generosity to determine what I should return him a month. Well then, said he, if so two pounds a month. I answered him that if that was the least he would take I would be contented.

Accordingly I hired myself out at Fisher’s Island, and earned twenty pounds; thirteen pounds six shillings of which my master drew for the privilege, and the remainder I paid him for my freedom. This made fifty-one pounds two shillings which I paid him. In October following I went and wrought six months at Long Island. In that six month’s time I cut and corded four hundred cords of wood, besides threshing out seventy-five bushels of grain, and received of my wages down only twenty pounds, which left remaining a larger sum. Whilst I was out that time, I took up on my wages only one pair of shoes. At night I lay on the hearth, with one coverlet over and another under me. I returned to my master and gave him what I received of my six months labor. This left only thirteen pounds eighteen shillings to make up the full sum for my redemption. My master liberated me, saying that I might pay what was behind if I could ever make it convenient, otherwise it would be well. The amount of the money which I had paid my master towards redeeming my time, was seventy-one pounds two shillings. The reason of my master for asking such an unreasonable price, was he said, to secure himself in case I should ever come to want. Being thirty-six years old, I left Col. Smith once for all. I had already been sold three different times, made considerable money with seemingly nothing to derive it from, been cheated out of a large sum of money, lost much by misfortunes, and paid an enormous sum for my freedom.

Source: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself [New London, [CT]: Printed by C. Holt, at The Bee-Office, 1798]. 5–24.



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Fear of Slave Revolts Digital History ID 83

Author: Daniel Horsmanden Date:1744


In 1741, New York City executed 34 people for conspiring to burn down the city. Thirteen African American men were burned at the stake and another 17 black men, two white men, and two white women were hanged. An additional 70 blacks and seven whites were banished from the city.

In 1741, New York’s economy was depressed, and, as a result of a punishing winter, the population suffered severe food shortages. The British empire was at war with France and Spain, and there were reports that the Spanish were threatening to invade New York or organize acts of arson. There were also troubling news about the Stono slave uprising in South Carolina. With one-fifth of Manhattan’s population consisting of black slaves, it was apparently easy to believe that they, perhaps assisted by Irish Catholic immigrants, were conspiring to set the city ablaze. It seems unlikely that there was an organized plan to set fire to the city and murder its inhabitants, as the authorities alleged. There is, however, evidence of incidents of arson and it appears that some slaves talked about retaliating against their enslavers and winning their freedom.

While slave masters described their slave populations as faithful, docile, and contented, slaveowners always feared slave revolt. Probably the first slave revolt in the New World erupted in Hispaniola in 1522. During the early eighteenth century there were slave uprisings on Long Island in 1708 and in New York City in 1712. Slaves in South Carolina staged several insurrections, culminating in the Stono Rebellion of 1739, when they seized firearms, killed whites, and burned houses. In 1740, a slave conspiracy was uncovered in Charleston. During the late eighteenth century, slave revolts took place in Guadeloupe, Grenada, Jamaica, Surinam, St. Domingue (Haiti), Venezuela, and the Windward Islands. Many fugitive slaves, known as maroons, fled to remote regions like Spanish Florida or Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp.

The main result of slave insurrections, throughout the Americas, was the mass execution of blacks. In 1712, when a group of enslaved Africans in New York set fire to a building and ambushed and murdered about nine whites who arrived to put out the fire, fourteen slaves were hanged, three were burnt at the stake, one was starved to death, and another was broken on the wheel.

The following account was originally published in 1744 by Daniel Horsmanden (1694-1778), who presided over the trial and later served on New York’s Supreme Court.


Wednesday, March 18 [1741]

About one o’clock this day a fire broke out of the roof of his majesty’s house at Fort George, within this city, near the chapel; when the alarm of fire was first given, it was observed from the town, that the middle of the roof was in a great smoke, but not a spark of fire appeared on the outside for a considerable time…. Upon the chapel bell’s ringing, great numbers of people, gentlemen and others, came to the assistance of the lieutenant governor and his family; and…most of the household goods, etc. were removed and saved…. But the fire got hold of the roof…and an alarm being given that there was gun powder in the fort, whether through fear and an apprehension that there was, or whether the hint was given by some of the conspirators themselves, with artful



design to intimidate the people, and frighten them from giving further assistance, we cannot say; though the lieutenant governor declared to every body that there was none there…. Such was the violence of the wind, and the flames spread so fast, that in about an hour and a quarter’s time the house was burnt down to the ground….

Monday, April 6 [1741]

About ten o’clock in the morning, there was an alarm of a fire at the house of serjeant Burns, opposite fort Garden….

Towards noon a fire broke out in the roof of Mrs. Hilton’s house…on the East side of captain Sarly’s house….Upon view, it was plain that the fire must have been purposely laid…. There was a cry among the people, the Spanish Negroes; the Spanish Negroes; take up the Spanish Negroes. The occasion of this was the two fires…happening so closely together….and it being known that Sarly had purchased a Spanish Negro, some time before brought into his port, among several others….and that they afterwards pretending to have been free men in their country, began to grumble at their hard usage, of being sold as slaves. This probably gave rise to the suspicion, that this Negro, out of revenge, had been the instrument of these two fires; and he behaving insolently upon some people’s asking him questions concerning them…it was told to a magistrate who was near, and he ordered him to jail, and also gave direction to constables to commit all the rest of that cargo [of Africans], in order for their safe custody and examination….

While the justices were proceeding to examination, about four o’clock there was another alarm of fire….

While the people were extinguishing the fire at this storehouse, and had almost mastered it, there was another cry of fire, which diverted the people attending the storehouse to the new alarm…but a man who had been on the top of the house assisting in extinguishing the fire, saw a Negro leap out at the end window of one of them…which occasioned him to cry out…that the Negroes were rising….

Supreme Court

Wednesday, April 22 [1741]

Deposition, No. 1–Mary Burton [a servant], being sworn, deposeth,

1. “That Prince [Mr. Auboyneau’s slave] and Caesar [Mr. Varack’s slave] brought the things which they had robbed…to her master, John Hughson’s house…about two or three o’clock on a Sunday morning [March 1, 1740].

2. That Caesar, Prince and Mr. Philipse’s Negro man (Cuffee) used to meet frequently at her master’s house, and that she had heard them (the Negroes) talk frequently of burning the fort; and that they would go down to the Fly [the city’s east end] and burn the whole town; and that her master and mistress said, they would aid and assist them as much as they could.

3. “That in their common conversation they used to say, that when all this was done, Caesar should be governor, and Hughson, her master, should be king.

4. “That Cuffee used to say, that a great many people had too much, and others too little; that his old master had a great deal of money, but that, in a short time, he should have less, and that he (Cuffee) should have more….

7. “That she had known at times, seven or eight guns in her master’s house, and some swords, and that she had seen twenty or thirty Negroes at one time in her master’s house….”

This evidence of a conspiracy, not only to burn the city, but also destroy and murder the people, was most astonishing to the grand jury, and that any white people should become so abandoned as to confederate with slaves in such an execrable and detestable purpose, could not but be very amazing to every one that heard it….

[A Justice administers the sentence to Quack and Cuffee]

You both now stand convicted of one of the most horrid and detestable pieces of villainy, that ever satan instilled into the heart of human creatures to put in practice; ye, and the rest of your colour, though you are called slaves in this country; yet are you all far from the condition of other slaves in other countries; nay, your lot is superior to that of thousands of white people. You are furnished with all the necessaries of life, meat, drink, and clothing, without care, in a much better manner than you could provide for yourselves, were you at



liberty; as the miserable condition of many free people here of your complexion might abundantly convince you. What then could prompt you to undertake so vile, so wicked, so monstrous, so execrable and hellish a scheme, as to murder and destroy your own masters and benefactors? nay, to destroy root and branch, all the white people of this place, and to lay the whole town in ashes.

I know not which is more astonishing, the extreme folly, or wickedness, of so base and shocking a conspiracy…. What could it be expected to end in, in the account of any rational and considerate person among you, but your own destruction?

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Daniel Horsmanden, A Journal of the Proceedings in the Detection of the Conspiracy…for burning the city of New-York, 1774

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The Colonial Era Timeline, Digital History ID 2929

17th Century

1607 May 13: The first permanent English colony is founded in Jamestown, Virginia.

1619 July 30: Virginia’s House of Burgesses convenes; it is the first legislative assembly in English North America.

August: A Dutch ship carries 20 blacks to Virginia. We now know that these were not the first blacks to arrive in Virginia.

1620 May 21: The Mayflower Compact, signed by 41 adult males in Provincetown Harbor, Mass., represents the first agreement on self-government in English North America.

December 26: The Pilgrim Separatists land at Plymouth, Mass.

1621 December 25: Massachusetts Governor William Bradford forbids game-playing on Christmas day.

1622 March 22: Indian attacks kill one-third of the English settlers in Virginia.

1624 John Smith publishes his General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, which describes his rescue by Pocahontas.

May: The Dutch establish the colony of New Netherland.

May 1: The Maypole at Mare Mount. In what is now Quincy, Mass., Thomas Morton and others set up a May Pole, engaged in drinking and dancing with Indian women, and celebrated “the feasts of the Roman Goddes Glora, or the beastly practises of the Madd Bacchinalians,” according to Massachusetts Governor William Bradford. Morton was deported to England.

1632 Charles I grants Lord Baltimore territory north of the Potomac River, which will become Maryland. Because the royal charter did not restrict settlement to Protestants, Catholics could settle in the colony.

1634 Massachusetts’ sumptuary law forebodes the purchase of woolen, linen or silk clothes with silver, gold, silk, or lace on them.

1636 June: After being expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony, Roger Williams founds Rhode Island, which becomes the first English colony to grant complete religious tolerance.

1637 November 7: Massachusetts banishes Anne Hutchinson for preaching that faith alone was sufficient for salvation.

1638 March: The first Swedish colonists settle in Delaware.

1654 The first Jews arrive in New Amsterdam, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in Brazil.

1660 May: Massachusetts forbids the celebration of Christmas.

December 1: Parliament adopts the First Navigation Act, which requires all goods carried to and from England to be transported on English ships and that the colonies could export cotton, ginger, sugar, tobacco, and wool exclusively to England. Other Navigation Acts were enacted in 1662, 1663, 1670, and




1661 September: Governor John Endicott orders an end to persecution of Quakers in Massachusetts, where three Quakers had been executed.

1662 A synod of Massachusetts churches adopts the Halfway Covenant, which permits baptism of children whose parents had not become full church members.

1664 Maryland adopts a statute denying freedom to slaves who converted to Christianity. A similar act was adopted by Virginia in 1667.

September 7: The Dutch surrender New Netherland to the English, who rename the colony New York. The Dutch temporarily regained possession in 1673 and 1674.

1669 John Locke drafts the Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas, which combines a feudal social order with a stress on religious toleration.


June 24: King Philip’s War begins. Relative to the size of the population, this conflict between the New England colonists and the Mohegans, Naragansetts, Nipmucks, Podunks, and Wampanoags was the deadliest in American history.

1676 September 19: Jamestown, Virginia., is burned during Bacon’s Rebellion. Declining tobacco prices, a cattle epidemic, and a belief that the colony’s governor had failed to take adequate measures to protect Virginia against Indian attacks contributed to the rebellion, which petered out after its leader, Nathaniel Bacon, died in October 1676.

1681 March 4: Charles II grants William Penn a charter to what is now Pennsylvania.

1682 Mary Rowlandson publishes an account of her captivity among Indians.

1684 June 21: Charles II revokes Massachusetts’ charter on the grounds that it had imposed religious qualifications for voting, discriminated against the Church of England, and set up an illegal mint.

1685 James II consolidates the New England colonies into the Dominion of New England and names Sir Edmund Andros governor, who dissolved the New England colonies’ assemblies.

1689 Leisler’s Insurrection. Following the overthrow of James II, Jacob Leisler, a German merchant, force New York’s governor to flee. He was subsequently executed for treason.

The first French and Indian war, King William’s War begins. Colonists launch attacks on Port Royal, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, and the French and their Indian allies burn Schenectady. The 1697 Treaty of Ryswick restored the pre-war status quo.

April 18: The New England colonies out Royal Governor Edmund Andros.

1692 March: The Salem Witch Scare begin when a group of young girls claims that they have been bewitched. When Massachusetts Governor William Phips halted the trials in October, 19 people had been hanged, one man had been crushed to death, and two people had died in prison. In 1697, one of the Salem witch judges, Samuel Sewall, publicly repented his role in the affair.

18th Century

1700 Population of the British colonies: approximately 275,000. Boston, the largest city, has about 7000 inhabitants.

Samuel Sewall publishes The Selling of Joseph, one of the first expressions of antislavery thought in the American colonies.

1702 May 4: Queen Anne’s War, the second French and Indian War, begins. It lasts until 1713.



1704 February 29: French and Indian forces attack Deerfield, killing fifty and taking a hundred residents captive, in one of the most violent episodes in Queen Anne’s War.

April 24: The Boston News-Letter is the first successful newspaper in the British colonies.

1705 Massachusetts prohibits marriages between whites and blacks.

1711 September 22: The Tuscarora Indian War (1711-13) begins. Surviving Tuscaroras move northward and join the League of the Six Nations.

1713 April 11: The Treaty of Utrecht ends Queen Anne’s War. France cedes Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to Britain.

1716 January: South Carolina settlers, aided by Cherokees, defeat the Yamassee Indians, and move southward into lands claimed by Spain.

1721 May: Connecticut prohibits Sunday travel except for attendance at worship.

1733 May 17: The Molasses Act levies heavy duties on rum and molasses imported from the French and Spanish West Indies.

1734 The Great Awakening begins in New England, ignited by Jonathan Edwards, who sermons in Northampton, Mass., emphasize human depravity and divine omnipotence.

1735 Peter Zenger, publisher of the New York Weekly Journal is acquitted of seditious libel, helping to establish the principle of freedom of the press.

1739 June 9: George II grants James Oglethorpe a charter for Georgia to serve as a buffer against Spain and as a haven for debtors. Georgia was the only one of the original 13 colonies to forbid slavery.

August: George Whitefield, a Methodist preacher, arrives from England, and preaches from New England to Georgia.

September 9: The Stono slave rebellion in South Carolina.

1740 Population of the British colonies: approximately 889,000.

1741 The Negro Conspiracy of 1741, an alleged plot to burn down New York City, leads authorities to burn 13 blacks alive, hang eight, and transport 71 out of the colony.

1744 King George’s War, the third French and Indian war, begins. It lasts until 1748.

1745 June 16: New Englanders capture Fort Louisbourg, a French stronghold in Nova Scotia. The fort was returned to the French at the end of King George’s War, outraging New Englanders.

1751 Benjamin Franklin publishes his Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, perhaps the most influential essay written by an American colonist.

1752 June: Benjamin Franklin demonstrates that lightning is form of electricity by flying a kite and a key during a thunderstorm.

1754 30-year-old Benjamin Banneker, an African American, constructs the first clock made entirely in the American colonies.

May 28: The fourth and most important French and Indian War (1754-1763) begins when British and French and Indian forces clash near Fort Duquesne (the site of present-day Pittsburgh) for control of the Ohio River Valley.

July 19: The Albany Congress, called to negotiate a treaty with the Iroquois in event of war with the French, approves Benjamin Franklin’s “Plan of the Union” of the colonies, with a president general named by Britain and a grand council with legislative power. The plan was rejected by the colonies and the Crown.



1757 August. 10: A day after surrendering to French Gen. Montcalm at Fort William Henry in northeastern New York, many British troops die in an ambush by France’s Indian allies. James Fenimore Cooper makes use of this incident in The Last of the Mohicans.

1759 September 13: In the climactic battle of the war, Britain defeats the French on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec. Both French Gen. Montcalm and British commander James Wolfe die in the battle.

1760 Population of the British colonies: approximately 1,610,000.

1763 February 10: France cedes Canada to Britain under the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years’ War.

May 7: Pontiac’s Rebellion begins when the Ottowa Indian chief leads an attack on Detroit. After failing to receive French aid, the conflict ends in October.

Copyright 2016 Digital History


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