Slavery Timeline
Timeline Description: The history of slavery in America is full of shame and regret. From the arrival of the first slaves to the abolishment of the slavery system, the effects of racism still resound today. Under the arrangement of slavery, people were treated as possessions. Slaves were able to be seized against their will if they were captured or bought. Historically, the system of slavery was accepted by most societies. Today, slavery is illegal in all countries. The history of slavery predates written records.

Date Event
1619 The first slaves arrive in Virginia

The first slaves imported into American colonies were twenty African-American men from the Caribbean. This trade was tied to the need for plantation labor and profits for Britain.
1636 The first American slave carrier was built and launched

Desire, the first American-built slave ship, was a two way slave transporter that carried Pequot Indians to the West Indies in exchange for African slaves. The ship was intended for cargo and conditions for humans were dreadful.
1641 Massachusetts is the first colony to legalize slavery

The bay colony of Massachusetts was the first to legally accept slaves. Samuel Maverick was the first legal slave owner, although he had held two slaves prior to the legalization of slavery.
1664 Maryland ordered permanent servitude for all black slaves

New Jersey, the Carolinas, New York, and Virginia passed similar laws. When European servants became rare and progressively more expensive and Africans began to dominate the labor market, legislation was passed ruling that new arrivals of color would be slaves for life. The slaves met a volatile environment, abuse, and controlled mobility.
1676 Bacon's rebellion

Led by Virginia settler Nathaniel Bacon, combat arose against the governor and the disorganized structure of politics. Over one thousand settlers armed themselves and torched the capital. Indentured servants and slaves were part of the upheaval.
1694 Slave importation grew as rice cultivation in California began

Beginning with the California Gold Rush, nearly 40,000 Chinese workers were brought to the state to cultivate rice. Slave labor was an economical means of netting a profit with this labor-intensive crop.
1739 Stono, South Carolina slaves rebelled

The Stono Rebellion, also called Cato's Conspiracy began in September of 1739. Led by natives of Africa, they recruited slaves as they travelled to Florida, killing several white men before being defeated by the militia of South Carolina. In response, the Negro Act of 1740 restricted the education and assembly of slaves.
1794 The invention of the cotton gin created a huge demand for slave labor

With the amplified ability to produce cotton, cotton farms were in high demand. This increased the need to hire inexpensive laborers to yield cotton.
1808 The United States banned slave trade from Africa, but smuggling continued

With the abolishment of slavery came a demand for additional laborers. Slave traders and owners did not break and the United States did not have enough authority to impose the laws they passed. Illegal trade persisted through Texas and Florida. Ships continued to carry slaves to land through South Carolina, even though it was punishable by death if caught.
August, 1831 Slave revolt by preacher Nat Turner

Rebel slaves, led by Nat Turner, revolted and killed between 55 and 65 people. This was the largest number of fatalities caused from a southern slave uprising.
September 17, 1849 Harriet Tubman escaped

After the passing of her owner, Tubman was in danger of being traded to another master and having her family divided. Tubman and her brothers fled by means of the Underground Railroad.
1857 Dred Scott Decision

Dred Scott vs. Sanford, a groundbreaking Supreme Court case, ruled that African Americans, regardless of slave status, could never be residents of the United States. The case was expected to resolve slavery arguments, but became a catalyst of the Civil War.
1859 Harper's Ferry

This historic town in West Virginia was the location of an invasion on the Armory, led by John Brown. The abolitionist directed his group of men, three free African-Americans and two slaves, to capture weapons and start a revolution in the South.
1863 Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, as a Civil War measure, the liberty of all slaves was proclaimed. Many slaves were permitted their freedom over the course of the war. However, it took time for this nonviolent effort to be completely finished.
January 31, 1865 Slavery Abolished.

The Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment abolished involuntary servitude and slavery. While it made slavery illegal, the Black Codes and white supremacist groups still held slaves. While slavery is illegal in all countries today, there are still occurrences of it, mainly, in South Asia and North Korea. These instances of slavery are known as debt bondage and human trafficking. Far less African-Americans are kept as present day slaves. There is, however, still a fair amount of women and children being forced into prostitution and manual labor and the effects of racism that still plague our country.