Slavery

  • Start of Slavery

    Start of Slavery
    At Jamestown, Virginia, approximately 20 captive Africans are sold into slavery in the British North American colonies.
  • Legalization

    Legalization
    Massachusetts is the first colony to legalize slavery.
  • Hereditary Act

    Hereditary Act
    Virginia enacts a law of hereditary slavery meaning that a child born to an enslaved mother inherits her slave status.
  • Bacon's Rebellion

    Bacon's Rebellion
    In Virginia, black slaves and black and white indentured servants band together to participate in Bacon's Rebellion.
  • Rice Cultivation Starts

    Rice Cultivation Starts
    Rice cultivation is introduced into Carolina. Slave importation increases dramatically.
  • Virginia Slave Codes

    Virginia Slave Codes
    The Virginia Slave Code codifies slave status, declaring all non-Christian servants entering the colony to be slaves. It defines all slaves as real estate, acquits masters who kill slaves during punishment, forbids slaves and free colored peoples from physically assaulting white persons, and denies slaves the right to bear arms or move abroad without written permission.
  • New York Slave Revolts

    New York Slave Revolts
    An alleged slave revolt in New York City leads to violent outbreaks. Nine whites are killed and eighteen slaves are executed.
  • Slave Codes Reversal

    Slave Codes Reversal
    The Spanish reverse a 1730 decision and declare that slaves fleeing to Florida from Carolina will not be sold or returned.
  • Stono Rebellion

    Stono Rebellion
    Slaves in Stono, South Carolina, rebel, sacking and burning an armory and killing whites. The colonial militia puts an end to the rebellion before slaves are able to reach freedom in Florida.
  • First Separate Black Church

    First Separate Black Church
    The first separate black church in America is founded in South Carolina.
  • Quaker Sentiment

    Quaker Sentiment
    In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, forbids its members from holding slaves; the same year the declaration of independence is signed
  • Court Success

    Court Success
    Mum Bett and another Massachusetts slave successfully sue their master for freedom.
  • Northwest Ordinance

    Northwest Ordinance
    The Northwest Ordinance forbids slavery, except as criminal punishment, in the Northwest Territory (later Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Residents of the territory are required to return fugitive slaves.
  • Constitution Ratification

    Constitution Ratification
    The U.S. Constitution is officially adopted by the new nation when New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify it. The document includes a fugitive slave clause and the "three-fifths" clause by which each slave is considered three-fifths of a person for the purposes of congressional representation and tax apportionment.
  • Cotton Boom

    Cotton Boom
    Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin, making cotton production more profitable. The market value of slaves increases as a result.
  • Resistance

    Resistance
    In Pennsylvania the Underground Railroad is officially established.
  • ACS

    ACS
    The American Colonization Society is founded to help free blacks resettle in Africa.
  • Missouri Compromise

    Missouri Compromise
    The Missouri Compromise forbids slavery in the Louisiana territory north of Missouri's Southern border. Under its terms, Maine is admitted to the Union as a free state and Missouri as a slave state.
  • An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World

    An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World
    In Boston, Massachusetts, David Walker publishes his widely read vociferous condemnation of slavery, AN APPEAL TO THE COLORED CITIZENS OF THE WORLD.
  • Turner's Rebellion

    Turner's Rebellion
    Nat Turner, an enslaved Baptist preacher believing himself divinely inspired, leads a violent rebellion in Southampton, Virginia. At least 57 whites are killed.
  • NASSC

    NASSC
    New York City hosts the first National Anti-Slavery Society Convention.
  • Prigg v. Pennsylvania

    Prigg v. Pennsylvania
    In the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 1793 Fugitive Slave law is constitutional, while state personal liberty laws make unconstitutional demands on slave owners. Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave law is declared the federal government's responsibility, not the states'.
  • Free Soil Party

    Free Soil Party
    Anti-slavery groups organize the Free Soil Party, a group opposed to the westward expansion of slavery from which the Republican Party will later be born.
  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    The Compromise of 1850 admits California to the Union as a free state, allows the slave states of New Mexico and Utah to be decided by popular sovereignty, and bans slave trade in D.C.
  • Dred Scott Decision

    Dred Scott Decision
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sanford denies citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves and denies Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories.
  • Abraham Lincoln

    Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln is elected to the presidency.
  • Limited Abolition

    Limited Abolition
    Congress abolishes slavery in Washington, D.C., and the territories.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Emancipation Proclamation
    Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in areas of rebellion.
  • Thirteenth Amendment

    Thirteenth Amendment
    The thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishes slavery throughout the country.
  • Black Representatives

    Black Representatives
    Two African Americans sit in the Massachusetts Legislature. It is the first time black representatives have participated in this branch of American government.
  • Reconstruction Acts

    Reconstruction Acts
    Congress overrides Presidential vetoes to pass the first, second, and third Reconstruction Acts, ushering in the period known as "Radical Reconstruction," during which the governments of all Southern States, except Tennessee, are declared invalid and the states are broken up into military districts overseen by federal troops.
  • Redeemer Governments

    Redeemer Governments
    Tennessee is the first of many Southern states to establish an all white, Democratic "Redeemer" government sympathetic to the cause of the former Confederacy and against racial equality.
  • Ku Klux Klan Act

    Ku Klux Klan Act
    The Ku Klux Klan Act is passed, giving the federal government the right to mete out punishment where civil rights laws are not upheld and to use military force against anti-civil rights conspiracies.