Introduction to Colonial African American Life

Slavery existed in every colony

At the dawn of the American Revolution, 20 percent of the population in the thirteen colonies was of African descent. The legalized practice of enslaving blacks occurred in every colony, but the economic realities of the southern colonies perpetuated the institution first legalized in Massachusetts in 1641. During the Revolutionary era, more than half of all African Americans lived in Virginia and Maryland. Most blacks lived in the Chesapeake region, where they made up more than 50 to 60 percent of the overall population. The majority, but not all, of these African Americans were slaves. In fact, the first official United States Census taken in 1790 showed that eight percent of the black populace was free. [Edgar A. Toppin. "Blacks in the American Revolution" (published essay, Virginia State University, 1976), p. 1]. Whether free or enslaved, blacks in the Chesapeake established familial relationships, networks for disseminating information, survival techniques, and various forms of resistance to their condition.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.       http://www.history.org/almanack/people/african/aaintro.cfm

 

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