The Problem of Indian Slavery in Early America
This introductory chapter begins by describing a 1739 case involving a man named Caesar who had allegedly “deserted” the service of his master, Samuel Richards, who owned a blacksmith shop. Richards filed a complaint and demanded Caesar's arrest, claiming that Caesar was his slave. Caesar filed a countersuit that asserted he was a free man and no one's slave. The stories of Caesar and the other Indians who challenged their enslavement in the eighteenth century highlight two facts: that slavery flourished in colonial New England, and that Native Americans formed a significant part of New England's slave population. Popular imagination associates slavery with the colonial South or the Caribbean, not with New England. However, when viewed through the lens of Indian slavery and forced servitude, New England looks much like contemporary Virginia, Barbados, Providence Island, New York, and other English “societies with slaves.” The remainder of the chapter discusses the English origins of Indian slavery and slavery and servitude in early English America.
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