Indians and the Origins of American Slavery —and Abolitionism
This chapter argues that while Indian slavery became the forgotten story subsumed in the larger story of racialized slavery in both history and memory, Indians were the charter generation. Indian slavery was an integral part of New England history—both for Native Americans and for Euro-American colonizers. Indians were the main non-English labor supply, and in that capacity they were crucial to the success of the colonization project and the prosperity enjoyed by English colonists. Indians, not Africans, were the objects of the first laws regarding slavery, and of the masters who competed for bound labor. Indians also experienced the first, great costs of slavery in the region, in terms of mortality, loss of family, and cultural pressure, even as they created new relationships and regional identities with English, Indians, and Africans alike. The remainder of the chapter discusses the diary of Samuel Sewall, and freedom suits brought by Connecticut Indians. Both show how Indian slavery and African slavery became intertwined, and how the abolition of one became linked to the other.
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