In 1619, two closely related events occurred in the Jamestown colony of Virginia. On 30th of June that year, the Polish craftsmen who had come to the colony with John Smith ten years before refused to work unless they were accorded the same voting rights as the British colonists. This was the first recorded strike in colonial America, and it lasted for three weeks—until the court granted the Poles equal voting rights on 21st of July.
A few weeks later, in August 1619, the first Africans (approximately twenty of them) arrived in Jamestown. The legal status of these people is not entirely clear. They were seized from a Portuguese slave ship by English privateers, but may have been treated as indentured servants (of whom there were already about a thousand in Jamestown), as they had been baptized as Christians and were therefore exempt from slavery according to the English custom of the time. It was not until 1640 that a Virginia man, John Punch, was legally sentenced to be a slave. Within a few decades, however, slavery was firmly established as an integral part of the political and economic structure of Virginia society.