Did the Puritans have slaves?

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There are numerous accounts of the Puritans owning slaves in New England.

Puritans are often fairly idealized; the group is typically seen as hardworking people with strong principles who were seeking to make a better life for themselves. However, there is a darker thread woven into this history.

Puritans arrived...

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There are numerous accounts of the Puritans owning slaves in New England.

Puritans are often fairly idealized; the group is typically seen as hardworking people with strong principles who were seeking to make a better life for themselves. However, there is a darker thread woven into this history.

Puritans arrived in New England with the hope of securing religious freedom for themselves, but they didn't extend this same vision to the Native population—nor to their ideas about enslaving Africans who were increasingly being bought and sold in this land.

John Winthrop was an early Puritan leader who helped write the Massachusetts Bodies of Liberty, which legalized slavery in North America. Section 91 makes the following declaration:

There shall never be any bond slavery, villeinage, or captivity amongst us unless it be lawful captives taken in just wars, and such strangers as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us. (Bold added for emphasis.)

The traditional reverence for the ideals of Puritanism certainly clashes with its historical reality, in which people were bought and sold as slaves.

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