The following is from The Confederate Handbook by Curtis Patranella (page 14):
It was common practice in the early days of Colonization of the New World for the wealthy to sponsor the poor for passage to the New World. In exchange for passage, the poor would become an indentured servant for a limited amount of time (usually 2 to 7 years).
After their term of service, an indentured servant would receive their freedom and a modest plot of land to call their own.
Anthony Johnson came to Jamestown in 1619 as an indentured servant; and within 4 years, he worked off his debt and settled down with his wife as a land owner. By 1651, Anthony Johnson became wealthy enough to sponsor 5 individuals for passage to the New World. The sponsorship not only garnered Anthony workers, but also increased his land holdings by 250 acres in headrights.
Unlike his contemporaries, Anthony Johnson put a twist in the normal sponsorship, when he outright purchased one of his wards (an African) as a slave.
Within a year or two, John Casor (the slave) pleaded with a local farmer (Robert Parker) to save him. Casor stated that Anthony Johnson had sponsored him as an indentured servant and that he had worked off his debt, but Mr. Johnson refused to release him.
Outraged, Robert Parker took John Casor under his wing. Anthony took Parker to court. After a year and a half court battle, the English Court had to make a ruling on something they never had before… whether a man could possess another man as chattel.
In 1654, the decision was rendered, and the court ruled that “seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master….It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.”.
John Casor had become the first ever slave of the New World Colonies.
The People of Jamestown, and elsewhere, began to see the benefit and cost savings of purchasing Africans outright for a life of servitude, as opposed to sponsoring freemen for a limited duration, and slavery was underway in force.
The above story is not spectacular, nor does it give rise to gasps of shock or surprise; what should surprise and shock you however is this…
Anthony Johnson, the man responsible for slavery in the New World was not named Anthony Johnson; that was the name he adopted upon arriving in the New World. Anthony Johnson signed on as an indentured servant under the name “Antonio, a Negro”. You see, slavery was birthed in the New World by a black man from Africa.
I am sure that this accomplishment will not be the subject of a Black History Month special.