Friday, August 1, 2008

Today In History - Africans Come To America As Indentured Servants

August 1, 1619 is often acknowledged as the 1st day that African slaves were brought into the American Colonies (what later became the state of Virginia) as Indentured Servants. Their being the first Africans in America is sometimes disputed in that it is reported a census record for Virginia showed 32 Africans some 5 months earlier. With regard to those Africans brought into Jamestown on today's date: They were purchased by Jamestown, by way of barter, from a passing Dutch ship bound from Angola to Mexico. The ship needed repairs and Jamestown needed able bodied workers. The deal was done in order to provide Jamestown with those able bodied workers after their own population had been decimated by disease and war with Native Americans.

These first Africans joined what then was probably 1/2 of the white population of America as indentured servants; those white indentured servants were mainly Irish, Scottish, English and German. Approximately 1/2 of all whites in America during the 17th and 18 centuries were indentured servants. As indentured servants, these first Africans in America had something different to which to look forward than did many who followed them; they had freedom on the horizon. As indentured servants they worked for for a set period, and then were set free and provided with land and supplies upon attaining freedom.

It was not until after the only briefly successful Bacon's Rebellion, led by Nathaniel Bacon, that the slave trade of Africans in America pretty much turned to pure slavery - whereby African slaves became slaves for life, and their progeny inherited their slave status. The rebellion while at first a success, was put down several months after it had begun. It was a rebellion made up mostly of poor landowners and indentured servants, that fought against local Indians whom they saw as a threat, and against a government that was unjust to them. The government, in the long term, failed to support the campaign against the Indians despite many colonists and indentured servants losing their lives to them. Whether or not invasion of Indian lands by Bacon was right by today's standards, the truth of that time was that the government opposed the right of people of the Virginia Colony to be able to defend themselves, and bacon supported it. In addition the government had caused fine tobacco production (the main cash crop) to drop, and then raised taxes to make up for the loss in revenues. Furthermore the governor, Sir William Berkley had granted special favors to those in his favor, and had virtually ignored the needs of those wealthy not in his favor, and also ignored those who were poor and who were indentured servants.

Had the rebellion been a success there may never have been African slavery, as opposed to indentured servitude, as we know it today. Things also may have been quite different not only for those who were brought here against their wills from Africa, but for all Americans. This is because the acknowledgement of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (as a means of self defense, and as a means to oppose tyrannical government) was born under Bacon. It was also one of the first things that was revoked once power was restored to the former ruler of Jamestown. It was not until the rebellion was squashed and the liberty to exercise that right was revoked that slavery took a different turn, albeit indirectly but no doubt in part caused as a result of the rebellion's failure. (Please note the facts about Bacon's Rebellion, and about Bacon, were pretty much undisputed until recent years with the revisionist view of all things historical. Today many ultra-liberal 'modern' historians try to make Bacon look to be little more than a greedy land baron, when in fact he was a rebel in opposition to tyranny, and he fought along with many poor landowners and indentured servants.)

We can certainly learn from history folks, and we need to beware of those who would taint history, and they who would under that veil of lies try to strip us of our rights. Free men, and men who see others as equals, such as was Bacon, see one of our most important rights to be the Right To Keep And Bear Arms. This is so that we can defend ourselves and so that we can put down tyranny when it tries to overpower us with unjust rule. It is only the tyrants who wish to do away with that right, and it has been that way throughout history. Trust no man who says you do not have an inalienable right to keep and bear arms because in all likelihood, once you surrender those arms, it will be the same man who holds you under his well armed rule no matter what your race.

All the best,
Glenn B

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-Americans (see the history section of this article)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States (see the Colonial America section of this article)

http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0805681.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon%27s_Rebellion

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p274.html

http://www.nps.gov/jame/historyculture/bacons-rebellion.htm

http://www.virginiaplaces.org/military/bacon.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servant