Documents of Slavery
In August of 1619, an English ship called the White Lion brought twenty Africans to Old Point Comfort, Virginia, to begin an era that was to last for 236 years. By the time of the Revolution, the number of slaves in the Colonies totaled just under one-half million. Congress outlawed the importation of slaves in 1807. But by 1860, the number of slaves in the United States had grown to four million.
This packet contains two simple documents which frame an era in which, unlike the words of the Declaration of Independence, all men were not created equal.
Advertisement for a Slave Auction – Charleston South Carolina, called Charles Town until 1783, was a busy port city. Like all major port cities, normal business included the importation and auctioning of slaves. This document shows a poster that advertised one such auction in 1774.
Certificate of Manumission – The original document from which this facsimile was copied was a paper that granted a slave his freedom. The document was issued in Burlington County, New Jersey, and set free a 55 year old man named Pompey on August 5, 1776. Ironically this date is almost two months to the day from the independence of the United States. Freed men and women often carried these papers as proof of their freedom to prevent their being forced to return to slavery.