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The Father of American Slavery

It is a documented fact that the first blacks, only twenty in all, came as indentured slaves to work for English colonists at Jamestown. Indentured servants worked for five to seven years, and then were given their freedom.

Among them was a black man named Anthony Johnson. After working off his indenture, he was not only a free man, but a landowner with a prosperous plantation. This in itself was an historical step forward in black history.

He became even more famous as the first black man in the colonies to effect a landmark decision in a court of law. Johnson, established in a Virginia court in 1654 a radical new concept in the laws relating to master and slave - "lifetime indenture."

The claimant was John Casor, a black servant indentured to Johnson. Johnson successfully asserted that he had a claim to the service of Casor for the remainder of Casor's life, and Johnson became America's first slave holder and the Father of American Slavery.

Indenture flourished among blacks as well as whites. The 1830 National Census counted 3,775 black slave owners who between them owned 12,760 slaves.

Instauration by Wilmot Robertson, Sept. 1997