The First African Americans

20 August 1619  

On this date in 1619…

The first known Africans to reach the English colonies landed at Jamestown, Virginia aboard Dutch vessel. The 20 Africans had been slaves transported on a Spanish ship captured by the Dutch. The men were sold or traded to the English and placed in seven years indentured servitude (just like Englishmen were) in exchange for supplies. At the end of their indenture, they were freed, given a parcel of land, and rights as English colonists. One of the Africans,Anthony Johnson, later sued John Casor, another African who broke his indenture to him and won, the result was that a black man became the first person to hold a slave for life in the English colonies.

 Other Years:

  • 1780 – “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion attacked the British outpost and rescued Patriot prisoners at Nelson’s Ferry, South Carolina.
  • 1789 – Juan de Ugalde, Commanding General of all Spanish forces in Coahuila, Nuevo León, Nuevo Santander, and Texas, started a major campaign to pacify the Apache.
  • 1866 – The U.S. government finally declared an end to the War of Northern Aggression.
  • 1886 – The fifth strongest recorded hurricane in North America wiped out the town of Indianola, Texas, killing more than 74 victims.
  • 1986 – Postal worker Patrick Sherrill shot 14 fellow workers dead in an Edmond, Oklahoma postal facility. This and other incidents involving postal workers in the 1980’s spawned the expression, “Going Postal.”

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