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During the course of the slave trade millions of Africans became involuntary immigrants to the New World Some African captives resisted enslavement by fleeing from slave forts on the coast of West African Others mutinied on board slave trading vessels or cast themselves into the ocean rather facing death than enslavement In the New World there were those who ran away from their owners ran away among the Indians formed maroon societies revolted feigned sickness or participated in work slow downs Some sought and succeeded in gaining liberty through various legal means such as good service to their masters self-purchase or military service Still others seemingly acquiesced and learned to survive in servitude The European American and African slave traders engaged in the large amounts of trade in humans The politicians and businessmen who supported them did not intend to put into motion a chain of events that would motivate the captives and their descendants to fight for full citizenship in the United States of America But they did When Thomas Jefferson penned the words All men are created equal he could not possibly have envisioned how literally his own slaves and others would take his words African Americans repeatedly questioned how their owners could consider themselves noble in their own fight for independence from England while at the same time believing that it was wrong for slaves to do the same The first slaves came to the Western Hemisphere in the early 1500s Twenty African slaves were brought to Jamestown Virginia in 1619 Series of complex colonial laws began to reform the status of Africans and their connection to slavery The United States outlawed the transatlantic slave trade in 1808 but the domestic slave trade and illegal importation continued for several decades Captured Africans were sold at auction as chattel like inanimate property or animals Many literate ex-slaves discussed the degradation and humiliation they felt when they were treated like cattle
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