Slavery and Servitude in the Colonies

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Who was America's first slave owner?

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Slavery has been around for thousands of years, so it’s not exactly clear who the first American slave owner was, especially since Indigenous cultures often used slavery as a means to pay off debts. However, in 1654, a civil court ruled that Anthony Johnson legally owned John Casor’s services for life. Historians often recognize this case as one of the first known legal sanctions of slavery, so Anthony Johnson is often cited as the first American to own slaves. Johnson was a black tobacco farmer who was an indentured servant himself. After his debts were paid off, he was granted land by the colony of Virginia, which he turned into a successful tobacco farm. His farm gave him great wealth over time.

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