African Americans in the Colonial Era : From African Origins through the American Revolution

Donald R. Wright






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What are the origins of slavery and race-based prejudice in the mainland American colonies? How did the Atlantic slave trade operate to supply African labor to colonial America? How did African-American culture form and evolve? How did the American Revolution affect men and women of African descent?

Previous editions of this work depicted African-Americans in the American mainland colonies as their contemporaries saw them: as persons from one of the four continents who interacted economically, socially, and politically in a vast, complex Atlantic world. It showed how the society that resulted in colonial America reflected the mix of Atlantic cultures and that a group of these people eventually used European ideas to support creation of a favorable situation for those largely of European descent, omitting Africans, who constituted their primary labor force.

In this fourth edition of African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins through the American Revolution, acclaimed scholar Donald R. Wright offers new interpretations to provide a clear understanding of the Atlantic slave trade and the nature of the early African-American experience. This revised edition incorporates the latest data, a fresh Atlantic perspective, and an updated bibliographical essay to thoroughly explore African-Americans’ African origins, their experience crossing the Atlantic, and their existence in colonial America in a broadened, more nuanced way.

Acknowledgments / ix

Introduction / 1

Chapter One: Atlantic Origins / 7

Atlantic Africa / 11

The Atlantic Trade / 23

The Slaving Voyage / 47

Chapter Two: Development of Slavery in Mainland North America / 64

The Chesapeake / 68

The Low Country / 82

The Lower Mississippi / 96

New England and the Middle Colonies / 101

Slavery and Racial Prejudice / 110

Chapter Three: African-American Culture / 117

Africans in America / 119

Demography, Community, and Culture / 124

The Daily Toil / 133

Family / 146

Religion / 151

Folk Culture / 157

Whites and Blacks, Men and Women, Humanity and Inhumanity / 169

Resistance, Escape, Rebellion, and Suicide / 174

Chapter Four: The Revolutionary Era / 185

Slavery and Ideology / 187

Freedom for Some / 195

Changing African-American Society / 206

The Foundations of Caste / 227

Securing the Blessings of Liberty / 232

Epilogue / 236

Bibliographical Essay / 240

Index / 289

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