The first 19 or so Africans to reach the English colonies arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, brought by Dutch traders who had seized them from a captured Spanish slave ship.The Spanish usually baptized slaves in Africa before embarking them.For slavery in the colonial period, see Slavery in the colonial United States.
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The historian Ira Berlin noted that what he called the "charter generation" in the colonies was sometimes made up of mixed-race men (Atlantic Creoles) who were indentured servants, and whose ancestry was African and Iberian.
They were descendants of African women and Portuguese or Spanish men who worked in African ports as traders or facilitators in the slave trade.
In some cases, convicted criminals were transported to the colonies as indentured laborers, rather than being imprisoned.
The indentured laborers were not slaves, but were required to work for four to seven years in Virginia to pay the cost of their passage and maintenance.
New communities of African-American culture were developed in the Deep South, and the total slave population in the South eventually reached 4 million before liberation.
As the West was developed for settlement, the Southern state governments wanted to keep a balance between the number of slave and free states to maintain a political balance of power in Congress.
There were no laws regarding slavery early in Virginia's history.