According to Dr. John Thornton, a Professor of History at Boston University, the 20 Blacks were from Angola, probably were Christians and highly skilled workers-craftsmen who had been captured and placed on Portuguese ships bound for South America and Mexico where there were already slaves.
“Whites worked side by side with Black indentured servants,” said Dr. Thornton. “The idea of racial slavery would not come until the 1640s.”
However, he noted there was a big difference. “The Blacks were never offered a labor contract which specified various provisions of their service, including how long they would work and how they could secure their freedom,” he said.
Dr. Thornton said the Blacks were called Negroes, which is a Portuguese word and not English. It referred to Blacks who were slaves or not.
The integration of Africans into the English Colonies led to interracial births. Thus, as slavery began to take hold after 1640, there was a debate on the rights of these children.
Dr. Thornton said this issue was resolved using the status of one or both of the parents at the time of the child’s birth. If the child’s father was white and free then the child was free. Even if the mother was Black, but was free, her child would be granted the same status
Children of two slaves would automatically be cast as slaves once the institution took hold in North America.
Dr. Peter Wallenstein, a professor at Virginia Tech University, observed it was with the 1619 creation of the first legislature in America, the House of Burgess, that racial slavery in this country was legitimized. “In 1619, we see ‘government by some people … for themselves over other people … this included slaves and servants. Not until after the Civil War and on to the Civil Rights Movement did we begin to see government by the people, for all the people … not just a few wealthy land owners ”
Initially white men were the source of cheap or free labor (via indentured servitude) in the colonies, according to Dr. Wallenstein.
“But the governing white class discovered that these white men did not like working as slaves or servants. They felt that in democracy, they, too, could compete for power and property,” said Dr. Wallenstein. “So the powerful land owners began to import Black slaves.
“The Black slaves were not given any rights, oppressed and had no native country overseas which was interested in coming to their rescue to free them.
So they made ideal free labor to build the nation’s economy.”
Dr. Wallenstein said that the Civil Rights Movement brought about the true application of a representative government, which the colonists failed to institute. He said that with the advent of national television news coverage in the early 1960s, revealing the cruelties against persons who were seen being clubbed and beaten for participating in civil rights protests for voting rights and desegregated facilities.
“We see the televising of young Midwestern whites joining Blacks and fighting for rights and freedom,” said Dr. Wallenstein. ”We see democracy taking shape this time by representative government which included all of the people, not just a few, which Colonial America failed to achieve in 1619.”