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Confronting InjusticeMoral History and Political Theory$
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David Lyons

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662555.001.0001

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The Balance of Injustice and the War for Independence 1

The Balance of Injustice and the War for Independence 1

(p.6) 1 The Balance of Injustice and the War for Independence1
Confronting Injustice

David Lyons

Oxford University Press

Many of us learned that slavery began in the English North American colonies in1619 when twenty Africans were purchased from the crew of a Dutch ship that had stopped at Jamestown for provisions. Colonial records do not tell us the fate of the Africans who arrived in Jamestown’s early years. This paper uses legislative and judicial records to reconstruct that history. The institution was not imported from England, under whose laws (which governed its colonies) one person could not own another. Chattel slavery was created by the colonial elite who decided to make their very profitable tobacco industry even more profitable by using slaves instead of contract labor. Colonial records reveal that unlawful enslavement was officially tolerated for decades; that it was incrementally regulated to meet slave-owners’ felt needs; and that it was not legally authorized until late in the seventeenth or early in the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   American Revolution, Native Americans, African Americans, colonial domination, territorial expansion, the spread of slavery

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