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Lineage Matters  ●  American Descendants of Slavery


Slavery in Colonial United States

The Spanish colony of St. Augustine in Florida became the first permanent European settlement in what would become the US
centuries later; it included an unknown number of African slaves.



The first record of Africans in English colonial America

The first record of Africans in English colonial America when men were brought at first to Fort Monroe off the coast of Hampton, Virginia, and then to the Jamestown colony who had been taken as prizes from a Spanish ship. They were treated as indentured servants, and at least one was recorded as
eventually owning land in the colony.


Slavery Begins in America

Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America from the beginning of the nation until passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.



John Punch

John Punch (fl. 1630s, living 1640) was an enslaved African who lived in the Colony of Virginia. Thought to have been an indentured servant, Punch attempted to escape to Maryland and was sentenced in July 1640 by the Virginia Governor's Council to serve as a slave for the remainder of his life. Two European men who ran away with him received a lighter sentence of extended indentured servitude.This made John Punch the first
legally documented slave in Virginia (and the US).


John Casor

John Casor, a black man who claimed to have completed his term of indenture, became the first legally recognized slave- for-life in a civil case in the Virginia colony. The court ruled with his master who said he had an indefinite servitude for life.

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Partus Sequitur Ventrem

Virginia law, using the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, said that children in the colony were born into their mother's social status; therefore children born to enslaved mothers were classified as slaves, regardless of their father's race or status. This was contrary to English common law for  English subjects, which held that children took their father's social status.


Royal African Company

Royal African Company is founded in England, allowing slaves to be shipped from Africa to the colonies in North America and the Caribbean. England entered the slave trade.



Beacon's Rebellion

Beacon's RebellionBoth free and enslaved African Americans fought in Bacon's Rebellion along with English colonists


The Stono Rebellion - Also Known as Cato's Conspiracy

The Stono Rebellion, one of the earliest slave revolts, occurs in Stono, South Carolina.
1793 Eli Whitney’s (1765 – 1825) cotton gin increases the need for slaves. This rebellion took place in South Carolina.



Eli Whitney’s (1765 – 1825) cotton gin increases the need for slaves

Cotton gin, machine for cleaning cotton of its seeds, invented in the United States by Eli Whitney By William L. Sheppard.
This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c03801. Public Domain, Link 

March 2, 1807

Congress bans further importation of slaves

This legislation was promoted by President Thomas Jefferson, who called for its enactment in his 1806 State of the Union Address. He had promoted the idea since the 1770s.   It reflected the force of the general trend toward abolishing the international slave trade which Virginia, followed by all the other states, had prohibited or restricted since then. South Carolina, however, had reopened its trade.

March 2, 1807

Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion

Nat Turner, (born October 2, 1800, Southampton county, Virginia, U.S.—died November 11, 1831, Jerusalem, Virginia), black American slave who led the only effective, sustained slave rebellion (August 1831) in U.S. history. Spreading terror throughout the white South, his action set off a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the education, movement, and assembly of slaves and stiffened proslavery, antiabolitionist convictions that persisted in that region until the American Civil War (1861–65).


Nat Turner's Confession
The Confessions of Nat Turner
The title page of The Confessions of Nat Turner (1832), an account of a slave rebellion, as told to and published by Thomas R. Gray.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (digital file no. 3b05966u)


William Lloyd Garrison - Abolitionist movement

In Boston, William Lloyd Garrison (1805 – 1879) begins publication of the anti-slavery
newspaper the Liberator and becomes a leading voice in the Abolitionist movement.



Ex-slave Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) publishes the anti-slavery North Star newspaper.

The North Star NewspaperThe North Star was a nineteenth-century anti-slavery newspaper published from the Talman Building in Rochester, New York by abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The paper commenced publication on December 3, 1847 and ceased as The North Star in June 1851 when it merged with Gerrit Smith's Liberty Party Paper (based in Syracuse, New York) to form Frederick Douglass' Paper.

The North Star's slogan was "Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are Brethren.

1831 – 1861

The Underground Railroad

Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North using the Underground Railroad.  The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals -- many whites but predominently black -- who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation.

1831 – 1861


Harriet Tubman becomes leader of the Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman (c. 1820 – 1913) escapes from slavery and becomes an instrumental leader of the Underground Railroad.


Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act

Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act, which mandates government participation in
the capture of escaped slaves.



Virginia slave Anthony Burns

Anthony Burns was a fugitive slave from Virginia who, while living in Boston in 1854, became the principal in a famous court case brought in an effort to extradite him back to the South. Born in Stafford County , Burns was the property of the merchant Charles F. Suttle, who later hired him out to William Brent, of Falmouth .


Dred Scott Decision

The Dred Scot v. Sanford case: congress does not have the right to ban slavery in the states; slaves are not citizens. The case of Dred Scott v. Sandford was first heard by the Supreme Court on February 11–14, 1856, and reargued on December 15–18, 1856. Dred Scott’s lawyers reiterated their earlier argument that because he and his family had resided in the Louisiana territory, Scott was legally free and was no longer a slave.



Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) is elected president, angering the southern states.

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president. He was the first Republican president and his victory was entirely due to his support in the North and West; no ballots were cast for him in 10 of the 15 Southern slave states, and he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states. Lincoln received 1,866,452 votes, or 39.8% of the total in a four-way race, carrying the free Northern states, as well as California and Oregon. His victory in the electoral college was decisive: Lincoln had 180 votes to 123 for his opponents.


The Civil War begins

Major Robert Anderson, commander of the Union's Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, sent a request for provisions to Washington, and Lincoln's order to meet that request was seen by the secessionists as an act of war. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Union troops at Fort Sumter and began the fight. Historian Allan Nevins argued that the newly inaugurated Lincoln made three miscalculations: underestimating the gravity of the crisis, exaggerating the strength of Unionist sentiment in the South, and overlooking Southern Unionist opposition to an invasion.



Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation proclaims that all slaves in rebellious territories are forever free.


Massachusetts 54th regiment of #ADOS troops

Massachusetts 54th regiment of African American troops led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1837 – 1863) marches out of Boston on May 28th, heading into combat.


April 9, 1865

General Robert E. Lee surrenders

General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to the Union’s Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, marking the beginning of the end of the grinding four-year-long American Civil War. But it would be more than 16 months before President Andrew Johnson would declare a formal end to the conflict in August 1866.

April 14, 1865

Lincoln is assassinated

By unattributed; based on the depiction from a mechanical glass slide by T. M. McAllister of New York, c1865-75 Restored by Adam Cuerden - Heritage Auctions, Public Domain.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Shot in the head as he watched the play, Lincoln died the following day at 7:22 am, in the Petersen House opposite the theater. He was the first U.S. president to be assassinated, with his funeral and burial marking an extended period of national mourning.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery, is ratified. The era of Reconstruction begins.

Occurring near the end of the American Civil War, the assassination was part of a larger conspiracy intended by Booth to revive the Confederate cause by eliminating the three most important officials of the United States government. Conspirators Lewis Powell and David Herold were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and George Atzerodt was tasked with killing Vice President Andrew Johnson.

Beyond Lincoln's death, the plot failed: Seward was only wounded and Johnson's would-be attacker lost his nerve. After a dramatic initial escape, Booth was killed at the climax of a 12-day manhunt. Powell, Herold, Atzerodt and Mary Surratt were later hanged for their roles in the conspiracy.

April 14, 1865

May 9, 1865

The Civil War ends

In an event that is generally regarded as marking the end of the Civil War, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.  


The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Pulaski, Tennessee

The Ku Klux Klan, was formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1865. Originally founded as a social club for former Confederate soldiers, the Klan evolved into a terrorist organization. It would be responsible for thousands of deaths, and would help to weaken the political power of Southern Blacks.



The “Black Codes” are passed by all white legislators of the former Confederate States.

Black Codes were restrictive laws designed to limit the freedom of #ADOS and ensure their availability as a cheap labor force after slavery was abolished during the Civil War.

Though the Union victory had given some 4 million slaves their freedom, the question of freed blacks’ status in the postwar South was still very much unresolved. Under black codes, many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested, fined and forced into unpaid labor. Outrage over black codes helped undermine support for President Andrew Johnson and the Republican Party.

July 28, 1868

The 14th Amendment is ratified

On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The amendment grants citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" which included former slaves who had just been freed after the Civil War.

The amendment had been rejected by most Southern states but was ratified by the required three-fourths of the states. Known as the "Reconstruction Amendment," it forbids any state to deny any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

July 28, 1868

February 3, 1870

The 15th Amendment is ratified, giving Black #ADOS the right to vote

It was ratified on February 3, 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment is one of the Reconstruction Amendments . Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.



The era of Reconstruction ends

A deal is made with southern democratic leaders which makes Rutherford B. Hayes (1822 – 1893) president in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, and puts an end to efforts to protect the civil rights of the Descendants of Slavery.

In the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified both the 14th Amendment (passed in 1868, it guaranteed citizenship and all its privileges to #ADOS) and the 15th amendment, stripping blacks in the South of the right to vote.

In the ensuing decades, various discriminatory practices including poll taxes and literacy tests—along with Jim Crow laws, intimidation and outright violence—were used to prevent American Descendants of Slavery from exercising their right to vote.



Thousands of American Descendants of Slavery leave the south

In the spring of 1879, thousands of 'colored' people, unable longer to endure the intolerable hardships, injustice, and suffering inflicted upon them by a class of Democrats in the South, had, in utter despair, fled panic-stricken from their homes and sought protection among strangers in a strange land.

Homeless, penniless, and in rags, these poor people were thronging the wharves of Saint Louis, crowding the steamers on the Mississippi River, and in pitiable destitution throwing themselves upon the charity of Kansas. Thousands more were congregating along the banks of the Mississippi River, hailing the passing steamers, and imploring them for a passage to the land of freedom, where the rights of citizens are respected and honest toil rewarded by honest compensation.

The newspapers were filled with accounts of their destitution, and the very air was burdened with the cry of distress from a class of American citizens flying from persecutions which they could no longer endure.


Tennessee passes the first of the “Jim Crow” segregation laws

Tennessee passes the first of the “Jim Crow” segregation laws, segregating state railroads. Similar laws are passed over the next 15 years throughout the Southern states.



Plessy v. Ferguson

Plessy v. Ferguson case: racial segregation is ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.  The “Jim Crow” (“separate but equal”) laws begin, barring African Americans from equal access to public facilities.


Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education case: strikes down segregation as unconstitutional. 

In the case that would become most famous, a plaintiff named Oliver Brown filed a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in 1951, after his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary schools.

In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for black children were not equal to the white schools, and that segregation violated the so-called “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment, which holds that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”



Dec. 1, 1955

Rosa Parks Arrested for Violating Segregation Laws

In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) is arrested for breaking a city
ordinance by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. This defiant act gives initial momentum to the Civil Rights Movement.


Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) and others set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Recognizing the need for a mass movement to capitalize on the successful Montgomery action, King set about organizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which gave him a base of operation throughout the South, as well as a national platform from which to speak. King lectured in all parts of the and discussed race-related issues with religious and <a class="md-crosslink autoxref" civil rights leaders at home and abroad.



The Civil Rights Act is signed, prohibiting discrimination against American Descendants of Slavery

The Act was signed into law by President Johnson at the White House on July 2, 1964 after the House of Representatives agreed to a subsequent Senate amendment to the bill passed the same day Johnson signed the bill into law


Voting Rights Act Passed

The Voting Rights Act is passed, outlawing the practices used in the South to disenfranchise Black American Descendants of Slavery voters.



Edward W. Brooke

Edward W. Brooke (1919 - 2015) becomes the first African American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. He serves two terms as a Senator from Massachusetts. In 1966, he became the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate. He represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979.


Rev, Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.


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