Angela, brought to Virginia 1619

Portuguese in Angola
Portuguese in Angola
photo 1607. A Nation Takes Root
From 1618 to 1620 the Portuguese fought the people of Ndongo in western Africa. Thousands of Africans were abducted and killed by African warlords and mercenaries employed by the Portuguese in Angola. Many were marched from their villages to the port of Luanda. Some escaped. Some died. They were often kept in terrible conditions for months until 350 to 400 could be packed together on an available vessel for the journey across the sea. Survivors were shipped in bondage, at first to the mines of Mexico and the fields of Brazil.

map of africa
Africa (Detail Ortelius World Map)
click to enlarge

The Portuguese had been in Angola for some time — building a large trade industry between Africa, Europe and the New World. There is evidence that some Africans had been baptized in the Christian faith before being enslaved. Others were baptized shortly before being loaded onto ships.

woman hoeing
African woman hoeing

In August 1619, a privateer vessel, White Lion, landed in Virginia at Point Comfort, present day Hampton, with a cargo of more than 20 Africans. While raiding in the Caribbean the White Lion, along with privateers from another ship, Treasurer, had seized part of a cargo of Africans from a Portuguese slave ship named Sao Jao Bautista bound from the African city of Luanda to Veracruz, Mexico. A short time after the White Lion stopped at Point Comfort, the Treasurer arrived carrying more Africans.

The status of the Africans in Virginia is uncertain, but some were “bought” by Governor Yeardley and Abraham Peirsey — meaning they were either slaves or indentured servants. Without papers of indenture (as carried by most white servants), these new arrivals had no protected legal standing and could be easily exploited.

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Copyright 2007