Chronology of Slavery in the United States

1730

From this time onward, England trades aggressively in North American slaves, with New York, Boston and Charleston thriving as home ports for slave vessels.

1750

Georgia is the last of the British North American colonies to legalize slavery.

1775

Founding of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the abolition of slavery, the world’s first anti-slavery society and the first Quaker anti-slavery society. Benjamin Franklin becomes Honorary President of the Society in 1787.

Writing the Declaration of Independence, by Jean Ferris.

Writing the Declaration of Independence, by Jean Ferris.

1776

Delegates to Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopt the Declaration of Independence, which declares that “All men are created equal.” However, slavery remains a legal institution in all 13 of the newly-established states.

1777

Vermont amends its constitution to ban slavery. Over the next 25 years, other Northern states emancipate their slaves and ban the institution. Some of the state laws stipulate gradual emancipation.

1780

Pennsylvania bans slavery.

1783

Massachusetts and New Hampshire ban slavery.

1784

Connecticut and Rhode Island ban slavery.

1787

Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory, which will eventually become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The United States draft the U.S. Constitution, which forbids Congress from interfering with the slave trade before 1808. Enslaved persons are counted as three-fifths of a person for the census.

Fugitive Slave, 1845

Fugitive Slave

1793

U.S. Congress enacts the Fugitive Slave Act to protect the rights of slave owners  to retrieve runaways across state lines.

Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor.

1799

New York bans slavery.

1800

Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved African American blacksmith, organizes a slave revolt intending to march on Richmond, Virginia. The conspiracy is uncovered, and Prosser and a number of the rebels are hanged. Virginia’s slave laws are consequently tightened.

1803

Haitians achieve independence from France after a 13-year rebellion and abolish slavery.

1804

New Jersey bans slavery.

1807

British Parliament votes to abolish the trade in slaves.

1808

In 1807 Congress bans the importation of slaves, effective January 1, 1808. The internal slave trade continues in states where the institution is legal.

 

 

 

Did You Know??….

Prior to the arrival of European slave traders in Africa, slavery had long been a part of life on the continent. The Arab slave trade from East Africa is one of the oldest slave trades, predating the European transatlantic slave trade by 700 years.

1820-1821

In the Missouri Compromise, Congress admits the slave state of Missouri and the free state of Maine into the Union, and bans slavery north of the 36° 30′ line of latitude in the Louisiana Territory.

1822

Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 co conspirators are hanged.

1831

In Boston, Massachusetts, William Lloyd Garrison founds the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, signaling a dramatic shift in the anti-slavery movement. The abolitionist movement soon becomes the dominant voice among anti-slavery advocates, who demand the immediate end to slavery.

Nat Turner, a literate slave who preacher, instigates a slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia. He and his followers kill 57 whites, but the revolt is unsuccessful and up to 200 slaves are killed. Afterwards, the Virginia legislature narrowly rejects a bill to emancipate Virginia’s slaves. The widespread fear of slave revolts, compounded by the rise of abolitionism, leads legislatures across the South to increase the harshness of their slave codes.

1833

William Lloyd Garrison, who founded the first abolitionist newspaper, joins with Arthur and Lewis Tappan to establish the American Anti-Slavery Society.

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