Chronology of Slavery


Normans and Venetians produced sugar on Cyprus, Crete and Sicily between 1200 A.D. and 1500 A.D. using primarily white slaves.

Sugar production in the Iberian peninsula and the Iberian controlled islands off the coast of Africa, Madeiras, Sao Thome, the Cape Verde Islands and the Canaries after about 1440 utilized primarily African slaves.

Information on sugar production and slavery prior to Columbus is difficult to locate as most authors choose to concentrate on the more politically correct American slavery.

About 10,000,000 African slaves were transported to the Americas between 1501 and 1860. Of these about 5% or 500,000 were transported to the Continental North American British colonies and the subsequent United States.

325 B.C.

Admiral Nearchus, Alexander the Great’s Navy, writes of Indian reeds “that produce honey, although there are no bees.” First known reference to sugar.

300 B.C.

The Carthaginian Navy rules the seas in quinquiremes. War ships with five banks of oars manned by government owned galley slaves. Carthage built a powerful economy based on slaves. All Mediterranean powers used galleys manned by slaves into the 18th century. In some cases, as in France, the slaves were felons sentenced to the galleys.

Carthaginian planters own fertile plantations in Libya worked by slaves. Some have up to 20,000 slaves.

Sugar is introduced to the Middle East from India.

168 B.C.

Battle of Pydna Roman General Lucius Aemilius Paulus defeats Macedonian King Perseus and brings home so much booty that Roman citizens are relieved of direct taxation. Macedonians captured at Pydna constitute a large part of the booty and are sold as slaves in Rome with females fetching fifty times the price of a male.

135 B.C.

Rome’s first slave war begins when slaves on large estates in Sicily revolt under leadership of the Syrian Eunus who styles himself King Antiochus.

132 B.C.

Rome’s first slave war ends with the capture of the Syrian Eunus. He is savagely execute with his supporters.

103 B.C.

Rome’s second slave war began when slaves in Sicily revolt under the leadership of Tryphon and Athenion.

99 B.C.

Rome’s second slave war ends after four years when Consul M. Aquillius subdues the slave army.

73 B.C.

Rome’s third slave war begins under the leadership of the Thracian slave Spartacus.

72 B.C.

Roman armies defeat the slave forces of Spartacus.

71 B.C.

Rome’s third slave war ends when Spartacus is defeated by the Roman Praetor M. Licinius Crassus. Pompey returns from the Hispanic provinces and mops up the remnants of the slave army.

9 A.D.

Emperor Wang Mang frees China’s slaves.

12 A.D.

Emperor Wang Mang repeals reforms which have met with widespread protests.

17 A.D.

Slaves are taxed in China.


Rome has 400,000 slaves for 1.5 million citizens. Middle class citizens own an average of eight.


Sugar from India is brought to Constantinople by Byzantine solders who found it in 627 at the sack of the Persian castle at Dastagerd.


Moors invade the Iberian Peninsula and introduce sugar, rice and saffron.


Vikings sell slaves from all over Europe to Moslems in the eastern Mediterranean.


From the middle of the 9th century until 1831 all Muslim kingdoms purchased white male slaves, mainly Turkish prisoners and Circassians from Russia, the Caucasus and central Asia, and form them into regiments of guards known as Mamelukes. The Mamelukes, from Arabic mamluk, owned, like the Roman Praetorian Guard, soon begin to exert considerable influence over the affairs of state. See 1375.


Thessalonica is plundered by the Saracen Corsair Leo of Tripoli who carries off 20,000 people as slaves.


Jewish merchants known as the Radanites sell white female slaves in the marketplace at Mainz and at other slave markets in the Orient. The Radanites then purchase spices, aloe, musk, pearls, and precious stones.


The Crusaders plant sugar cane in the Holy Land.


Sugar serves as an emergency ration for Crusaders at siege of Acre.


Crusaders take sugar back to Europe.


Henry III asks Mayor of Winchester for 3 pounds of sugar. An enormous amount for the time.


Some time late in the 14th century, exact date unknown, until 1826 the core of the Ottoman Empire’s standing army was the Janizaries who were organized by either Orkhan or Murad I. The Janizaries, from Turkish yenicheri, recruits or new troops, were originally prisoners of war but the main source of Janizaries were Christian boys taken prisoner in war or delivered as tribute by subject states. The Janizaries like the Roman Praetorian Guard and the Mamelukes, soon begin to exert considerable influence over the affairs of state.


Wat Taylor’s rebellion in England. A mob of 30,000 rioters enter London and behead the archbishop of Canterbury. Richard II promises reforms and an end to serfdom.


England repeals reforms and reestablishes serfdom.


Sugar cane from Sicily is planted in Madeira.


March 1

Murad II, Ottoman Sultan, attacks Salonika. The city is carried by storm. The inhabitants and the Venetian garrison are massacred. The survivors are sold into slavery. The churches were converted into mosques.


African slaves are brought to Portugal by a caravel returning from Africa.


African slaves are sold in the market at Lisbon. About 10,000,000 Africans will be transported to Europe by 1901.


Moors captured by the Portuguese officer, Antam Goncalves, are ordered returned to Africa by Prince Henry the Navigator. The Moors exchange ten African slaves and some gold dust for their fellow countrymen.

The Portuguese construct forts on the coast of Africa and establish a thriving trade in slaves. The first African slaves in the New World are slaves from Spain and Portugal.


Pope Nicholas V authorizes the Portuguese to “attack, subject, and reduce to perpetual slavery the Saracens, pagans and other enemies of Christ southward from Cape Bajador and Non, including all the coast of Guinea.” See 1514


Sugar from Madeira reaches Bristol, England. This is first sugar many Englishmen have seen.


African slaves in the kingdom of Gaur in India rebel and place their own leader on the throne.

African kingdom of Benin begins trade with Portugal.

Christopher Columbus submits his proposal, for a westward expedition to the Orient, to Castile’s Isabella and Aragon’s Ferdinand.


Sugar cane is planted on the island of Sao Thome and slaves are transported from the kingdom of Benin and other African countries to work in the cane fields.


Spanish colonists plant sugar cane in the Canary Islands.


August 3

Christopher Columbus weighs anchor on a Friday. The 100 ton Santa Maria has a crew of 52.

October 12

Christopher Columbus sights land.

The first known reference to smoking tobacco is made by Luis de Torres and Rodrigo de Jarez. Rodrigo will be imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for his “devilish habit” of smoking.


Sugar cane and cucumbers from the Canary Islands are planted on Santo Domingo by Columbus. Columbus’ father in law owns a Madeira sugar plantation.


Columbus sends five hundred Carib Indians taken in wars with the Caciques to be sold as slaves at Seville. Queen Isabella suspends the royal order for their sale and requests an inquiry into the lawfulness of the sale. Theologians differ on the lawfulness of the sale. The Indians are eventually shipped back home.


Spain completes conquest of the Canary Islands from the Portuguese and the native fair skinned Guanche who have fought off invaders for a century.

Statute of Piotkow deprives Polish peasants of freedom to move about.


The Spanish ship some six hundred cannibal Caribs to Spain to be sold as slaves.


Sebastian Cabot sails to North America and returns with 3 Indian slaves. There is some controversy as to exactly where Henry and his son Sebastian landed on their voyages.


Gaspar de Corte-Real (Portugal) makes the first authenticated European landing on the North American Continent since Leif Ericson in 1000.


Gaspar de Corte-Real (Portugal) kidnaps 57 Indians in North America to be sold as slaves. The Indians and Gaspar are both drowned when the ship sinks. A second vessel reaches Portugal with seven Indians.

African slaves introduced into Hispaniola at Santo Domingo by Spanish settlers. This is the first importation of African slaves into the Americas.


Nicolas de Ovando, governor of Santo Domingo, is given permission to transport slaves born in Seville and other parts of Spain provided they had been instructed in the Christian faith.


Nicolas de Ovando, the Spanish governor of Hispaniola, petitions Ferdinand the Catholic to permit no more African slaves to be sent to Hispaniola.


The Spanish begin sugar production in the Caribbean’s Great Antilles.


The Portuguese capture Zafi in Morocco and begin a commerce in captive Moors, Berbers and Jews. Many are female, all are called white slaves to distinguish them from African slaves.


The native population of Hispaniola is 60,000 as compared with 200,000 to 300,000 in 1492.


A consignment of African slaves is transported to Brazil to labor on Portuguese sugar plantations.

King Ferdinand transports African slaves to Santo Domingo to work the mines.


Poland establishes serfdom under laws passed by the diet.


African slaves are imported into Hispaniola’s western settlement (Haiti) in large numbers to replace Indian slaves who are dying out from over work and disease.


Pope Leo X issues a bull denouncing slavery and the slave trade. See 1450

The Spanish conquer Cuba.


The Castilian regent Jiminez forbids importation of slaves into Spanish colonies but Carlos I grants his courtiers licenses to import slaves into Spanish colonial islands.

Carlos I receives 6 loaves of sugar grown in the Americas from Hispaniola’s inspector of gold mines. The first sugar grown in the America’s to reach Europe.


Archduke Charles grants Florentine merchants a monopoly in the African slave trade.

Enslavement of Indians in the America’s is protested by Father Bartolomeo de Las Casas. Father Las Casas, bishop of Chiapa, first priest ordained in America and a former planter, went back to Spain to plead the case of the Indians to Carlos I. He requests that each Spanish resident in Haiti be granted a license to import twelve African slaves in order to release the natives from slavery.


The 28 Spanish sugar plantations on Santo Domingo step up importation’s of African slaves to replace the Island’s fast disappearing native population.

Tobacco is introduced to Juan de Grijalva by a native chief. 1522

Hispaniola has a large scale slave uprising. There will be at least 10 more in the next 31 years.


Sugar introduced into Cuba.


Congolese king Mbemba Nzinga protests to John III (Portugal) that Portuguese merchants are “taking every day our natives, sons of the land and sons of our noblemen and our vassals and our relatives.” The king is a convert to Christianity and he says the slavers are depopulating his country.


Sugar becomes as important as gold in the Spanish and Portuguese colonial economies.


France begins sentencing condemned criminals to the galleys. See 1561.

Tobacco is cultivated on a commercial scale in the Spanish West Indies.


Slaves on Hispaniola stage an uprising which is suppressed with a great deal of bloodshed.


England begins to suffer shortages of honey as the monasteries are dissolved pursuant to the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The priests keep bees for the wax which is used for votive candles.


Slave uprising on Hispaniola


Portugal’s agrarian system declines as a result of dependence on slave labor introduced since 1441.


Spain forbids the enslavement of Indians but does not abolish Indian slavery.


The Protestant Reformation leads to a shortage of honey as the Monasteries are broken up and the apiaries formally tended by the priests fall into decay. This creates a demand for more sugar which in turn creates a demand for more slaves.


A silver mine is discovered at Potosi in the altiplano of New Castile. The mine will yield an estimated $2 billion in silver.


Mayans stage a major uprising but are crushed by the Spanish.


The population of New Spain has fallen from 11 million in 1518 before the arrival of Cortez to 6 million in 1547 as a result of disease and over work in mines and on plantations.


Hispaniola has another slave uprising

The native population of Hispaniola is less than 500.


Prices in Europe and England rise as coins minted from Mexican and Peruvian gold and silver devalue the old currencies. Stalin gets the Spanish gold in 1936 when he persuaded the Spanish Central Bank to send the gold reserves to Russia for safe keeping during the Spanish Civil War.

Brazil has 5 sugar plantations.


Franciscan monk Andre Thevet brings tobacco seeds to Europe from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


A smallpox epidemic ravages Portugal’s Brazilian colony increasing the need for African slaves to cut sugar cane.


France enacts the Ordonnance d’Orleans providing for the sentencing of condemned criminals to the galleys. See 1564.

Tobacco grows in Spain and Portugal where it is used as an ornamental plant and for its alleged medicinal properties.


John Hawkins hijacks a Portuguese ship carrying African slaves to Brazil. He sells the slaves in 1563 at Hispaniola for sugar, pearls and ginger and makes a huge profit.


John Hawkins sells a hijacked cargo of 105 to 300 African slaves in Hispaniola.

Queen Elizabeth: “If any African were carried away without his free consent it would be detestable and call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertaking.”


Queen Elizabeth loans John Hawkins a ship and takes shares in his slave running ventures. Apparently she doesn’t fear Heaven.

Charles IX of France forbids sentencing prisoners to the galleys for less than 10 years. Galley slaves are branded with the letters GAL. See 1748.


John Hawkins introduces tobacco into England from Florida.


Large scale traffic in African slaves begins between the African coast of Sierra Leone and the Brazilian bulge 1,807 miles away.

Slave ships returning from Brazil bring peanuts, maize, manioc, sweet potatoes and beans to supplement Africa’s few subsistence crops. Manioc (cassava) is very resistant to locusts and to deterioration in the field and serves as a reserve against famine.

Maize fuels the population growth necessary to provide the steady supply of African slaves required for the new trade.


Spain and Portugal unite under one crown. Spain’s Philip II is crowned Philip I of Portugal.


Philip II of Spain sends some of his African slaves to St. Augustine. These are the first African slaves to be landed in North America.

Philip II unifies control of the Oriental spice trade eliminating the competition in the sugar, spice and slave trade that existed before the Spanish takeover of Portugal in 1580.


Colony planted on Roanoke Island by Walter Raleigh.


The “invincible” Spanish Armada sails for England. The fleet carries handcuffs, legirons and chains for the thousands of English slaves the Spanish expect to take.

English merchants form the Guinea Company to traffic in slaves from Africa’s Guinea coast.


North Africa’s African culture is destroyed when Spanish and Portuguese Mercenaries in the service of Moroccan pashas use firearms to defeat the Africans, destroy Goa and assist the Moroccans in establishing themselves at Timbuktu. The pashas gain independence from Morocco in 1612 and rule Timbuktu until 1780.

Portugal closes Brazil to further immigration of anyone except Portuguese but continues to import African slaves for the Brazilian plantations.


A Russian census lists peasants under the names of landholders. The peasants will hereafter be considered as serfs of the landlords.


The Dutch East India Company sends its first ships to the Orient. The Dutch begin settlements on Africa’s Guinea coast. Dutch ships arrive in the East Indies.


A Muscovite ukase requires the seizure of runaway serfs and their return to their masters.

A German visitor to England makes note of Queen Elizabeth’s black teeth. Paul Henter ascribes this condition to the Queen’s excessive consumption of sugar. This is the first recorded association between sugar and tooth decay.


There is an estimated 900,000 African slaves in the America’s. Most of the slaves are engaged in producing sugar.

The Dutch raise the price of pepper from three shillings per pound to six or eight and eighty London merchants form their own East India Company.

Prices in western Europe are six times what they were a century ago. The nobility is impoverished and is forced to sell its land to the despised middle class.


Tobacco sells in London for its weight in silver shillings.


English adventurer John Smith is captured by the Turks, while serving with Transylvania’s Sigismund Bathory, and sold into slavery.


John Smith kills his slave master, escapes from captivity east of the African Sea and returns to England.


James I publishes Counterblast to Tobacco anonymously. He regards smoking as a filthy stinking habit.

1607 May 14

Jamestown, Virginia founded by Captain Christopher Newport.

June 22

Captain Christopher Newport sails for England leaving Jamestown under the command of Captain John Smith.


Jamestown grows rich on tobacco and the import duties alter James I attitude towards tobacco.


English slaver Thomas Hunt kidnaps a Wampanoag from Patuxet. He sells Tisquantum (Squanto) into slavery at Malaga, Spain.


May 11

One hundred and forty transported white female convicts are sold at a slave auction in Jamestown, Virginia against their weight in tobacco “at a fixed poundage for the crop” and fetch between two hundred and six hundred pounds each depending on age and condition. This shipment of female convicts is follow by another shipment in a few weeks which includes 105 women and girls. Transported convicts were slaves without any rights during the period of their sentence.

Planters purchase any labor they are offered and do not ask questions. Press-ganged, kidnapped, convicted criminals, prisoners of war or self-sold, red, white, African, male or female it makes no difference. Slaves in Jamaica are sold against sugar, about £7 each. Branding and flogging are usually included in the process. See 1698.


African slaves are sold in Jamestown, Virginia by a Dutch privateer. They introduce African diseases such as yellow fever, virulent forms of malaria and hookworm to North America. This is the first sale of African slaves in an English Colony. The Dutch ship is short of food and according to tradition the twenty Africans were about to be thrown overboard. Theoretically they are indentured servants. See 1650.


March 16

Squanto makes his way back from Spain and assists the Pilgrim colony on Cape Cod Bay with farming.


Brazil has 350 sugar plantations.


Snuff users are threatened with excommunication by Pope Urban VIII


Lemonade is invented in Paris as sugar imported from the French West Indies drops in price.


Dutch forces invade and occupy northern Brazil and Dutch planters enter the lucrative sugar market.

A new French law restricts sale of tobacco to apothecaries on prescription of a physician.


A Dutch planter introduces Sugar cane from Brazil to Barbados. The English settlers have been growing cotton, indigo, ginger and tobacco.


Dutch forces take Elmina from the Portuguese and construct forts along the Gold Coast to insure a supply of African slaves for their sugar plantations in Brazil.

The Massachusetts militia massacre the Pequod village at Mystia. They kill about 600; take 30 males offshore, drown them and sell the women and children as slaves. The technical term for a mass drowning is: Noyäde’.

The Pequod Indian slaves were transported to the Indies aboard, the first American Slave Ship, the Desire.

The Desire, 120 tons, was constructed at Marblehead, Massachusetts and was one of the first, if not the first, ships built in the colonies.

The Desire transported a cargo of African slaves to Connecticut on the return voyage.


A Wonderful Victory Over the Enemies of God


Massacre at Fort Mystic

Hugh Peter writes to John Winthrop, Jr., that he had heard of a “dividend” of women and children from the Pequod captives and that he would like a share, “a young woman or girl and a boy if you think good.”


The British West Indies have a population of 20,000, most of it employed in growing sugar cane.


Massachusetts outlaws slavery. The code of laws, Body of Liberties, adopted in 1641, Article 91 reads “there shall never any bond slaverie, villinage, or captivites amongst us unless it be lawfull captives taken in just wars, and such strangers as willingly selle themselves or are sold to us. And these shall have all the liberties and Christian usages which the law of God established in Israell concerning such persons doeth morally require. This exempts none from servitude who be Judged thereto by Authoritie.”

A person can, theoretically, still be sold into slavery in the United States as the thirteenth amendment allows slavery as a punishment for crime. See 1865 and 1926.

Some 10,000 slaves will be imported to the Americas during this decade. Most of them for the sugar plantations in Brazil.

The first sugar refinery in the English colonies is constructed on Barbados using money borrowed from the Dutch against the sugar to be produced.

Russia’s Michael Romanov forbids the sale and use of tobacco. Users and sellers are to be flogged.

Russia makes tobacco a state monopoly.


Transportation and sale of convicts and prisoners of war becomes a major branch of the slave trade from 1642 to 1649 during the English Civil War.


Portuguese colonists begin an uprising against the Dutch in Brazil.

Barbados has 6,000 slaves.


Czar Alexis Mikhailovich abolishes the state monopoly in tobacco and reimposes the ban on smoking.


There are 300 slaves in Virginia.


Chattel slavery legally recognized in Virginia.

Virginia grows rich on tobacco exports.


John Cotton writes a letter to Oliver Cromwell thanking him for the gift of “The Scots whom God delivered into your hands at Dunbarre. . . . .” and goes on to report that “They have not been sold for slaves to perpetuall servitude, but for 6 or 7 or 8 yeares as we do our owne; . . . .”


Capetown, South Africa is founded by Dutch ship’s surgeon Jan van Riebeck who goes ashore at Table Bay with 70 men, seeds, agricultural implements and building materials.

Ukrainian serfs rise in a revolution that will continue for six years.


Portugal recovers the Brazilian territory taken by the Dutch in 1635.

Sugar cane is planted on Martinique by the French. Martinique will become a major Caribbean sugar producer.


Africa’s Bambara kingdom’s of Segu and Kaarta on the upper Niger begin their rise against the Mandingo Empire which they will replace in 1670.


Plockhoy’s Dutch Mennonite settlement on the Delaware is raided by Sir Robert Carr and the Massachusetts militia. The women are raped by the God fearing Puritans and the survivors, of the raid, men, women and children are sold into slavery in Virginia and the West Indies.


England imports less than 88 tons of sugar. This will grow to about 10,000 tons in 1700 as prices fall and tea drinking increases in popularity.


Czar Alexis suppresses a peasant revolt in the southeast led by the Don Cossacks. Stenka Razin, leader of the Cossacks, is executed.

The governor of Virginia estimates that Africans comprise less than 5 percent of the population.

Rice is introduced into South Carolina by physician Henry Woodward who received some Magdagascar rice from a sea captain.

Russian serfs rise in revolt.

English merchants form the Royal African Company to exploit the African slave trade.


Richard Baxter, English Puritan, denounces slave hunters as “enemies of mankind” but he does nor denounce plantation slavery itself so long as the slaves are well treated.


New England has a population of 50,000 while the native population is less than 20,000.


King Philips War ends in August. Chief Metacum’s head is cut off and displayed in Plymouth for the next twenty years.

King Philips widow and children are sold as slaves in the West Indies, despite Increase Mather’s vote that they be executed, along with other survivors. Over 500 are shipped into slavery from Plymouth alone as the militia tracks them down.

Dutch traders purchase African slaves at 30 þorins in Angola and sell 15,000 per year in the Americas at 300 to 500 þorins each.


Between 1680 and 1700 The Royal African Company exported 140,000 African slaves and private adventures exported 160,000. See 1700.


The African slave trade of England which had been restricted to exclusive companies is opened to all subjects of the Crown.


The Treaty of Rijswijk recognized French possession of the western third of Hispaniola, Haiti, which they name Saint Domingue.


Transported convicts are sold in Monserrat for a fixed price of 2,500 pounds of sugar “per servant, male or female”. See 1712.


Between 1700 and 1786 610,000 African slaves are transported to Jamaica.


Philadelphia mechanics demonstrate to protest competition from Indian slaves.


South Carolina has 2,400 adult whites; 1,100 Indian slaves and 2,900 African slaves.

Britain’s Caribbean colonies import 20,000 slaves per year by official estimate but many are for re-export to North and South America.


Queen Anne’s Proclamation Against Vice generates fresh supplies of felons for transportation. See 1718.

April 6

Slaves revolt in New York. Six committed suicide and 21 are executed.


April 11

The Treaty of Utrecht grants the South Sea Company a monopoly, asientos, to import 4,800 African slaves per year into Spain’s American colonies for a period of 30 years to date from May 1, 1713. The French had previously held this monopoly and before them the Dutch. See 1739.


African slaves comprise 24 percent of Virginia’s population.


The act of 1718 reaffirming the Transportation of Convicts make transportation the routine alternative to a death sentence of hanging or burning at the stake. See 1745.


African slaves outnumber whites two to one in South Carolina.

A Code Noir for regulating the Africans and expelling the Jews at New Orleans is proclaimed by Louisiana Governor de Bienville.


Molasses Act passed by Parliament imposes heavy duties on molasses, sugar and rum imported from non-British West Indies islands and increases the cost of rum. Americans consume 3 Imperial (3.75 American) gallons per capita per year.

Smugglers evade the Molasses Act and trade slaves for molasses and sugar in the non-British West Indies to sell to New England distillers to be made into rum which is carried to Africa and traded for slaves to trade for molasses in the Indies.


Trustees of Georgia prohibit slavery and rum. Beer is encouraged as a temperance drink.


The Cato Conspiracy at Stono, South Carolino takes the lives of 40 African slaves and 30 whites. Slave uprising. 1739/1740

Spain cancels England’s contract to import slaves into Spanish colonies. Complaints of the English slavers on the one hand and the complaints of Spanish planters on the other were causing such a din that Philip V was fed up. Cancellation of the contract along with other differences led to the War of Jenkin’s Ear.


Second slave uprising in New York; either 13 or 18 slaves hanged; 13 burned at the stake and 71 deported. Four whites are hanged. Fires broke out and Catholic priests were charged with a “Negro Conspiracy” and inciting slaves to burn New York on orders from Spain. Oglethorpe reports this news to the trustees in a letter of May 28, 1742. He also mentions fires at Charles Town and a Negro insurrection in Carolina where Mr. Bathurst and above twenty white people and forty Negroes were killed.

Indigo introduced into South Carolina by Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney.


Female convicts are being dumped in Pennsylvania in such large numbers that the Puritans begin to complain. See 1751.


France incorporates the corps of galleys with the navy.


Massachusetts has 63 distilleries producing rum made from West Indies molasses to be shipped to Africa to trade for slaves.


May 9

Benjamin Franklin suggests in the May 9, 1751 issue of his Pennsylvania Gazette that the convict transport ships be laden for the return voyage with Rattlesnakes to be distributed in St. James Park, in the gardens of the Prime Minister, the Lords of Trade and the Members of Parliament. See 1776.


Money from slave produced commodities such as sugar, tobacco and sea-island cotton create a growing leisure class in England.


Forty per cent of Virginia’s population of 250,000 are slaves.


Slave traders are excluded from the Society of Friends by the American Quakers despite the fact that many Quakers own slaves.


Granville Sharp finds a slave beaten and left to die in the street. He nurses the slave back to health only to have the slave kidnapped by his owner and shipped to Barbados to be sold. A public outcry results.


April 5

The Sugar Act replaces the Molasses Act of 1733. The tax is cut in half but customs officials are dispatched and the governors ordered to collect the tax.


George Washington ships an unruly slave off to the West Indies in exchange for a hogshead of rum and other commodities.


There is an estimated 15,000 African slaves in Great Britain. See 1772.


Serfdom ends in Savoy (Sardinia).


June 22

Lord Chief Justice William Murray, Lord Mansfield, rules in the Somerset case after some hesitation that “as soon as any slave sets foot on the soil of the British Islands he becomes free.” Apparently this does not apply to miners. See 1775 and 1778.


Samuel Hopkins and Yale President Ezra Stiles urge that freed Africans be resettled in West Africa.


George III signs an order freeing women and children working in British coal and salt mines. Many of the children are under 8 years of age and are forced to work 10 to 12 hour days. They could be transferred with the mines or when their masters had no further use for them.

The first American abolition society is founded in Pennsylvania. The slave population below the Mason-Dixon line exceeds 450,000. Africans outnumber whites two to one in South Carolina.


Delaware forbids further importation of slaves. The slave population of the thirteen colonies reaches 500,000.

The House of Commons hears the first motion to outlaw slavery. The motion fails.

Importations of female convicts sold as slaves exceeds 30.000 and large numbers continue to be transported. See 1783.

July 2

Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress. The term “all men” is evidently the particular man, male and not the generic man, mankind. Jefferson’s draft was edited to omit an attack on slavery so “all men” apparently also does not extend to non white males.

The House of Commons hears the first motion to outlaw slavery in Great Britain and her colonies. David Hartley calls slavery “contrary to the laws of God and the rights of man.” His motion fails.


The Virginia legislature forbids further importation of slaves at the persuasion of Thomas Jefferson.

Scottish miners gain some partial remission of the conditions of virtual slavery under which they labor but they will not achieve complete freedom until 1779.


Massachusetts constitution of 1780 declares that “all men are born free and equal”. See 1783.

Holy Roman Emperor Josef II abolishes serfdom in Bohemia and Hungary.

March 1

Pennsylvania abolishes slavery. Pennsylvania enacts a gradual emancipation act providing that no child born in Pennsylvania after March 1, 1780 should be a slave.


Serfdom is abolished in Austria and her dominions.

The Virginia legislature authorizes manumission of slaves as slavery begins to die out in some parts of the South. Some 10,000 Virginia slaves will be freed in the next years. Independence has a high price as British subsidies on critical commodities are ended and Britain shifts her trade elsewhere.

English Quakers form an association “for the relief and liberation of the Negro slaves in the West Indies, and for the discouragement of the slave trade on the coast of Africa.”

Maryland forbids further importation of slaves.


A consignment of transported convicts is refused entry and returned to England. See 1787.

A slave named Quaco sues for his freedom, in the Massachusetts courts, under the 1780 constitution and wins. At the census of 1790 Massachusetts is the only state that returns no slaves. See 1788.

Prime Minister Andreas Bernstorff abolishes serfdom in Denmark.


Connecticut abolishes slavery.


Ordinance of 1787 prohibits slavery in new states north of the Ohio.

New South Wales replaces North America as a dumping ground for transported convicts. The convicts are not sold. The commissioned officers are given their pick of the women, then the non-commissioned officers, then the privates and finally male convicts that have completed their sentences are allowed to choose from what is left.

For some reason British North America apparently was not a destination for transported convicts.

Captain Bligh, as governor of New South Wales, undergoes his third mutiny in 1808. See 1788.

Delaware forbids importation of slaves.

The Free Africa Society founded at Philadelphia by Richard Allen and other Africans.

Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Virginia declares the importation of convicts illegal. See 1789.

Massachusetts prohibits participation in the slave trade.


The Declaration of the Rights of Man adopted by the French Assembly declares that man has “natural and imprescribable rights. These rights are liberty, property, personal security and resistance to oppression. . . .”

Planters in Saint Domingue on Hispaniola send delegates to Paris and demand freedom to deal with local matters, slavery, without interference. Paris is not sympathetic to their demands. Hispaniola has 480,000 slaves.

Jamaica has 211,000 slaves and William Wilberforce informs the House of Commons that one third of the African slaves landed in the West Indies die within a few months of arrival, many by suicide.

A young girl sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for some petty crime refused transportation in lieu of death. At the time it was fashionable for the Society Ladies to attend such trials and set on the bench with the judge.

Mrs. Fitzherbert, morganatic wife of the Prince Regent, and a coterie of noble ladies were present on this occasion and when despite the pleas of the judge and the entire courtroom, which was reduced to tears, the girl persisted, saying “she would rather die” the judge adjoined the trial.

Mrs. Fitzherbert and her Ladies plead with the girl for several hours in her cell before she finally agreed to accept transportation and allow the trial to continue.


First U,S. census reports 500,000 slaves and 3,500,000 free citizens.


The French National Assembly grants Africans born of free parents in the French West Indies voting rights and the same privileges as all citizens.

The 30,000 white citizens of Saint Domingue prepare to secede

Free Africans and mulattos in Saint Domingue revolt. Within a few months 2,000 whites and 10,000 Africans have been killed. Sugar plantations are burned but 70,000 tons of sugar are produced.

A motion by William Wilberforce to prevent further importation of slaves into the British West Indies fails by a 188 to 163 vote. The House of Commons has been prejudiced by the slave insurrection at Saint Domingue and by similar revolts in Martinique and Dominica.


Edward Gibbon writes Lord Sheffield expressing his approval of the vote against slavery but hopes that humanity is the only motive as he has a fear of wild ideas about the rights and natural equality of man.

Paris sends an army to restore order in Saint Domingue but the military commanders favor emancipation and support the slaves.

Eli Whitney develops an improved cotton gin which is capable of processing short staple upland cotton. This is the first improvement to the cotton gin in 2,000 years. Cotton will rescue slavery from oblivion by replacing the naval stores and indigo trade lost during the revolution and advance the inevitable war between the Northern and Southern States by a generation.


Riots in Paris over high price of sugar.

May 16

Denmark becomes first nation to abolish the slave trade. The Act is to take effect from the end of 1802 in all Danish possessions.

1793 February 12

The Fugitive Slave Act passed.


February 4

The French Assembly emancipates all slaves in French colonies. The first nation to free slaves. See 1802.

March 24

U.S. citizens forbidden to participate in the slave trade to foreign countries by act of Congress.

Thomas Clarkson issues a pamphlet urging suppression of the slave trade.


Georgia forbids further importation of slaves.


Napoleon revokes the emancipation decree act of 1794 and reintroduces slavery to French colonies and sends an army to put down the rebellion in Haiti (Saint Domingue).


South Carolina resumes importation of slaves as cotton becomes profitable and the demand for field hands increases.

Cotton passes tobacco as the leading U.S. export crop.

Renewal of hostilities in Europe increases demand for U.S. commodities and further fuels the demand for slaves.


January 1

Haiti is established as an independent republic.

All slaves are freed and all whites that do not flee are killed. Many of the whites flee to Baltimore.


March 2

Congress bans importation of slaves from Africa to take effect on January 1, 1808.


January 1

United States bans all importation of slaves.


Prussia abolishes serfdom.

France makes tobacco a government monopoly.


Sweden abolishes the slave trade.


Dutch end slave trade.

May 30

Great Britain and France conclude a treaty prohibiting the introduction of slaves into the French colonies by foreigners to take effect immediately and interdicting absolutely the trade to the French themselves after June 1, 1819.


Congress of Vienna acknowledges the principal that the slave trade should be abolished as soon as possible but leaves the determine of the time limits to separate negotiations between the Powers.

December 24

Treaty of Ghent ends War of 1812.

United States and Great Britain agree to cooperate in suppressing the slave trade but Yankee Clippers built at Baltimore, Maryland and New Port, Rhode Island out sail the ponderous British man-of-wars assigned to patrol the slave lanes.

The ostensible reason for the war was the impressment of U.S. seamen but the United States was trounced so badly that it dropped its demand for an end to impressment and only asked for a return to the status quo ante bellum.



Portuguese subjects are prohibited from prosecuting the slave trade north of the equator, to take effect immediately, and a complete ban on the slave trade to take effect as of January 21, 1823. See 1823.

November 20

Second Peace of Paris reconfirms the France’s promise to abolish her slave trade by 1819 and to limit the trade to her own colonies until then.


The Spanish agreed to end the slave trade and England pays Spain an indemnity of £400,000.

March 3

Missouri Compromise accepted by Congress. Missouri is admitted as a slave state in exchange for Maine’s admittance as a free state on condition that slavery be abolished in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase.

Liberia is founded by the Washington Colonization Society for the repatriation of U.S. Africans to Africa.


Benjamin Lundy urges abolition of slavery and begins publication of the antislavery newspaper Genius of Universal Emancipation.

William Wilberforce appeals to Thomas Fowell Buxton to undertake an inquiry into slavery in parliament.


Moresby Treaty restricts the Zanzibar slave trade to within limits which exclude Iran and India.

William Wilberforce and Thomas Fowell Buxton establish an antislavery society in London.

June 16

Vasey’s slave rebellion fails in South Carolina. Over thirty executions take place and several southern states tighten their slave codes.


Portugal’s deadline for ending the slave trade extended to February 1830. England pays a £300,000 compensation to Portugal.

May 5

Thomas Fowell Buxton moved that the House should take into consideration the state of slavery in the British colonies. Buxton and his associates favored the establishment of serfdom for existing slaves and freedom for children after a certain date.


Robert Owen promotes abolition of slavery, women’s liberation and free progressive education.


Pennsylvania nullifies Fugitive Slave Act with passage of law making kidnapping a crime. See 1842.


New York abolishes slavery.


September 15

Mexico abolishes slavery.

December 2

President Vicente Guerero exempts Texas Territory from antislavery decree of September 15.

Stephen D. Miller, Governor of South Carolina, tells the legislature that “Slavery is not a national evil; on the contrary, it is a national benefit.”

The British Slave Trade Commission takes over the administration of the African island of Fernando Po with Spanish consent.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke leave Charleston for the North. They become Quakers and are active in the antislavery and women’s rights movements.


Mexico forbids further colonization of Texas Territory and prohibits further importation of slaves into the Territory.

The schooner Comet is wrecked on a voyage from Alexandria, Va. to New Orleans La. Survivors are taken to the Bahamas where the slaves on board are declared free by the British authorities. The U.S. government registers a protest.


Great Britain and France enter into an agreement for a mutual right of search in certain areas. Most of the other Powers accede.

Nat Turner leads slave revolt in Virginia. Fifty seven whites including children are murdered. When questioned about killing children Turner says “Kill them all. Nits breed lice.” Turner is captured by the Army in August, tried and hanged.

December 27

Samuel Sharp’s rebellion in Jamaica results in the hanging of Sharp and the flogging of other slaves involved.

The Liberator begins publication in Boston. William Lloyd Garrison advocates emancipation of the slaves. Slaves comprise nearly a third of the U.S. population.


The New England Anti-Slavery is founded at Boston.

The African face musical Jim Crow debuts at the City Theater on Jefferson Street in Louisville, Kentucky. The cast gets 20 encores.


Kentucky bans importation of slaves. See 1850.

Great Britain and France enter into a new agreement for a mutual right of search within certain areas.

David Lee Child writes An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans and advocates education of Africans.

Prudence Crandall, Canterbury, Connecticut school mistress is imprisoned for violating a special act of the legislature directing her to not admit African girls to her school.

The Female Anti-Slavery Society is founded at Boston by Lucretia Coffin Mott and others.

August 23

Slavery abolished in the British colonies as of August 1, 1834.

December 4

The American Anti-Slavery Society is founded at Philadelphia by James Mott and others.

1834 August 1

35,000 slaves freed in South Africa as slavery ends in British Empire.


December 10

A royal decree forbids the export of slaves from and Portuguese possession.


Congress enacts a gag law to suppress debate on the slavery issue.

December 7

Elijah Paris Lovejoy, editor of the abolitionist Alton Observer, is shot dead by pro slavery partisans.

1838 May 17

A Philadelphia mob burns Pennsylvania Hall as Irish immigrants and other working people fear that freed slaves will take their jobs as the Underground Railroad goes into operation.


Theodore Dwight Weld, evangelist-abolitionist, publishes American Slavery as It Is.

Henry Clay delivers a conciliatory address against militant abolitionism.


The World’s Anti-Slavery Convention opens in London. William Garrison refuses to attend protesting the exclusion of women. The U.S. antislavery movement has split into factions over Garrison’s advocate of women’s rights including the right to participate in the antislavery movement. See 1848.


Ashburton Treaty provides for joint American and British maintenance of squadrons on the west coast of Africa.

The blockading cruisers had a pecuniary interest in capturing the slavers on the high seas instead of interdicting the traffic. Ships captured on the high seas can be sold for prize money. Prize money is divided among the officers and crew.

The result of the blockade was a 300 % increase in slaves shipped with two thirds being murdered at sea and a deterioration in the conditions of current slaves as the work load was increased to compensate for the decrease in supplies of new slaves.

March 1

U.S. Supreme Court rules in, Prigg v. Pennsylvania that the owner of a fugitive slave may recover him under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. The 1826 Pennsylvania law is overturned but state authorities are under no obligation to assist in recovery of a slave.

March 22

Joshua R. Giddings, Congressman from Ohio, resigns his seat after being censored by the House for introducing antislavery resolutions. Giddings is reelected and back in his seat May 8.


India abolishes slavery.


The Methodist Episcopal Church in America splits into northern and southern conferences after Georgia Bishop James O. Andrews resists an order to give up his slaves or resign his Bishopric.

Zanzibar abolishes the slave trade.


July 26

Liberia is proclaimed an independent republic. Liberia was colonized by U.S. freedmen and is the first African colony to gain independence.


Illinois abolishes slavery.

France abolishes slavery in it’s West Indies colonies. About 74,000 slaves freed on Martinique alone.

Dred Scott sues in U.S. Supreme Court for his freedom.

The first Women’s Rights Convention is held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., under leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott.


Harriet Tubman escapes to the north and becomes a conductor on the underground railroad.


Slave trade banned in District of Columbia.

Kentucky repeals ban on importation of slaves.

The first national women’s rights convention is organized by Lucy Stone and held in Worchester Massachusetts

September 18

A new Fugitive Slave Act strengthens the 1793 act by substituting federal jurisdiction for state jurisdiction.

October 21

The Chicago City Council moves to not sustain the new act.

October 30

A mass meeting in New York resolves that the act should be sustained.

The first person arrested under the act is New York freedman James Hamlet. He is arrested by a deputy U.S. Marshal as a fugitive from Baltimore. The arrest arouses so much public indignation that Hamlet is redeemed and freed.


February 15

Boston Africans defy the Fugitive Slave Act and rescue the fugitive Shadrach from jail.

February 18

President Fillmore calls upon Massachusetts citizens and officials to execute the law.

October 1

New York abolitionists free a fugitive slave at Syracuse N.Y.


The Sand River Convention signed by Great Britain and the Boers in South Africa contained a clause forbidding slavery.


Wisconsin Supreme Court rules Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is unconstitutional.

February 28

Republican party organized at Ripon, Wisconsin by former Whigs and disaffected Democrats opposed to the extension of slavery.

May 26

A Boston mob attacks a federal courthouse in an attempt to rescue the fugitive slave Anthony Burns. Federal troops are called in to escort Burns to the Boston docks for extradition to the South.


James H. Adams, governor of South Carolina, urges repeal of the 1807 law against trading in slaves.

Free soil leaders are indicted for treason by The Kansas Territorial Legislature. Pitched battles between free-soilers and pro slavery proponents result.


The United States recognizes William Walker’s government in Nicaraguan. Walker plans a military empire based on slavery and a transisthmus canal.

May 20

Charles Sumner, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Calls the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 a “swindle.”

May 21

Pro slavery forces led by a U.S. Marshal attack Lawrence Kansas.

May 22

Preston Smith Brooks, U.S. Representative from South Carolina assaults Sumner in the Senate chamber with a walking cane. Massachusetts reelects Sumner the following year even thought he was beaten so badly he will not be able to resume his duties for 3 years.

May 24

John Brown and six followers butcher five men at Pottawatomie Creek by hacking them to death in reprisal for Lawrence, Kansas. The resulting was leaves 200 dead.


William Walker is elected President of Nicaragua.


March 6

Dred Scott decision rules Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional.

Penal Servitude Act Of 1857 abolishes transportation of females.


A fugitive slave is rescued by Oberlin College students and a professor in Ohio. The fugitive is sent to safety in Canada.

Czar Aleksandr begins emancipation of Russia’s serfs.


The Wanderer lands at Jekyll Island, Georgia with about 300 slaves on board.


Georgia prohibits the post-mortum manumission of slaves by last will and testament. The state legislature votes to permit free Africans to be sold into slavery if they have been indicted as vagrants.

Kansas Territory adopts the Wyandotte Constitution and bans slavery.

March 7

U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (Ableman v. Booth) reversing the Wisconsin court decision of 1854

October 16

John Brown raids Harper’s Ferry.

October 18

John Brown is captured by Colonel Robert E. Lee and a detachment of U.S. Marines.

December 2

John Brown is hanged for treason.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton urges woman suffrage in an address to a joint session of the New York State Legislature.

Lincoln elected president.

December 20

South Carolina adopts an Ordinance of Secession to take effect on December 24.


Czar Aleksandr completes the emancipation of Russian serfs begun in 1858.

New Jersey has 18 persons legally classified as slaves, apprentices for life.

January 9

Mississippi secedes.

January 10

Florida secedes.

January 11

Alabama secedes.

January 19

Georgia secedes.

January 26

Louisiana secedes.

February 1

Texas secedes. Ratified by popular vote February 23.

April 17

Virginia secedes.

May 6

Arkansas secedes.

May 7

Tennessee secedes.

May 20

North Carolina secedes.

February 4

Delegates from six Southern States meet at Montgomery, Alabama and form a provisional government, the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis is named provisional president. The Confederate Constitution forbids importation of slaves; Section 7-1.

April 12

War Between the States begins with bombardment of Fort Sumpter in Charleston harbor. Abner Doubleday, who was erroneously credited with the invention of baseball by the Spalding Commission, is Major Anderson’s artillery officer at Fort Sumpter.


April 16

Slavery abolished in the District of Columbia.

September 22

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issues an Emancipation Proclamation which declares that “persons held as slaves” within areas in “rebellion against the United States” will be free on and after January 1, 1863. Slaves in areas controlled by U.S. forces are not freed.


The First Regiment of South Carolina volunteers is organized. This is the first regiment of (U.S. Colored Troops?).


War Between the States ends.

Ratification of thirteenth amendment forbidding slavery. A person can, theoretically, still be sold into slavery in the United States as the thirteenth amendment allows slavery as a punishment for crime. See 1926


Ratification of fourteenth amendment defining citizenship. Despite the plain unequivocal language, the U.S. Supreme Court in it’s infinite wisdom ruled in Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94, 1884, that despite the universal grant of citizenship the term “all persons” somehow did not encompass Indians.


The Spanish legislature enacts the Moret Law freeing slaves in Cuba as they reach 60 years of age. Children not yet born are free at birth but are to be kept at the expense of their parent’s masters until 18 years of age and are to be employed until 18 as apprentices in work suitable to their age.

June 3

A U.S.-British convention for the suppression of the African slave trade is concluded.


Brazil frees the children of slaves. The Rio Banco Law

1873 June 5

Zanzibar’s public slave markets are closed under pressure from the British to prohibit the export of slaves. See 1897.


Zanzibar signs treaty denying slaves access to the coast port.



Representatives of fourteen nations, including the United States, meet in Berlin to carve up Africa. They agree to suppress slavery and promote the tenets of Western civilization. The Berlin Act is signed in February of 1885. See 1889.


Brazil frees all slaves over 60.


May 13

Approximately 700,000 slaves are freed in Brazil.


The signatories of the Berlin Act meet in Brussels at the instance of Queen Victoria with the declared objective of putting an end to the crimes and devastation engendered by the traffic in African slaves.



Arab slave holders in the Belgian Congo rebel.

November 22

Arab slave holders defeated by Belgian forces.

December 5

Forced labor by Congo natives is disguised as taxes to be paid in labor.


Zanzabar abolishes slavery.


William Cadbury (Cadbury Chocolates) visits Trinidad and is informed that the cocoa workers on Sao Thome and Principe Islands are for all practical purposes slaves.


William Cadbury sees an advertisement for the sale of a Sao Thome cocoa plantation where the workers are listed as assets at so much a head.


William Cadbury visits Lisbon to investigate alleged slavery in the Portuguese African cocoa islands Sao Thome and Principe. The Portuguese authorities inform Cadbury that his suspicions are unfounded and invite him to see for himself.


Joseph Burtt, English Quaker, spends 6 months on Sao Thome and Principe at the suggestion of William Cadbury and observes that nearly half of the workers on one cocoa plantation died within one year of arrival.


William Cadbury publishes Labor in Portuguese West Africa and persuades two other Quaker cocoa and chocolate firms, Fry and Rowntree, to boycott Portuguese cocoa.


China abolishes slavery.


The Convention of St. Germain-en-Laye.


The Slavery Convention.


The Forced Labor Convention.


The League of Nations Second Slavery Committee.


The Permanent Advisory Committee of Seven Experts on Slavery.


Ibn Sa’ud, King of Saudi Arabia, issues a decree regulation the condition of slaves and providing for manumission under conditions. Importation of slaves by sea is forbidden and provisions are made for the licensing of slave traders.

March 8

Slavery is reported in Liberia by a U.S.-League of Nations commission.


November 11

The United States cruiser Omaha and the destroyer Somers seize the German blockade runner Odenwald and bring her into San Juan, Puerto Rico on the preposterous charge that she had been engaged in the African slave trade.


Ethiopia abolishes slavery.


Paris brothels are closed by La Loi Marthe Richard. Mile. Richard is named for a member of the French Assembly who has campaigned against enslavement of women in houses of prostitution. Prostitution is not outlawed, just the slavery of working in a house. The deminondaines are free to work the streets. Medical examinations were also discontinued.


The assembly of the United Nations requested the Economic and Social council of the United Nations to study slavery. The council appointed an ad hoc committee of four experts to study slavery.

1962 November

Saudi Arabia abolishes slavery.


Dates Slavery

Order of


Date of


Vermont (F)




Ohio (F)

Indiana (F)

Maine (F)

New York

Michigan (F)

Iowa (F)


California (F)

Oregon (F)

Minnesota (F)

Kansas (F)

West Virginia (F)





New Jersey

New Hampshire

Rhode Island















































































Free at time of admitance to United States.
Vermont forbid slavery in its first constitution.

Pennsylvania enacted a gradual emancipation act providing that
no child born in Pennsylvania after March 1, 1780 should be a slave.

Congress omitted to complete the paperwork on Ohio and by joint
resolution admitted Ohio to the United States in 1953 retroactive to
March 1, 1803. Congress refused to remit the taxes collected.
Negro settlers prohibited by law.
New Jersey had 18 persons legally classified as slaves,
apprentices for life, in 1861.
Approximately 90% of the slaves imported into the
United States landed in New Port, Rhode Island.