Most Americans think they know the history of slavery because it has been an abhorrent part of the American narrative taught in schools, portrayed in Hollywood, and mentioned frequently in the media.
But here is something you probably didn’t know: The first recorded American slave owner was a black man.
Anthony Johnson came to colonial America in the 1600s. He worked as an indentured servant to a tobacco farmer in Virginia. In colonial times servants typically worked under a contract of up to seven years to pay off their passage, room and board, and then their “freedom dues” — materials they would need to start life as a free person.
They were then released after the contract expired, with many of the former servants receiving land and equipment. This was the case for Anthony Johnson, who came to America under the name Antonio from Angola.
After his contract expired, he eventually received 250 acres of land. He then started a farm and enlisted the servitude of four white men and one black, who was said to be his son Richard Johnson.
While these contracts did not make one a slave, the case of John Casor — a black servant Johnson later acquired — would set a precedent and change that minor detail forever.
John Casor was working for Anthony Johnson on an indentured contract when he began seeking help from outsiders, claiming that his contract had well expired but Johnson refused to release him.
A neighbor, Robert Parker, brought a civil case against Johnson, demanding Casor be released. Parker intended to help Casor find another indenture contract.
The courts initially ruled in favor of Parker and demanded that Casor be released. Johnson did so, but after stewing in his defeat, he appealed.
On March 8, 1655, the court of Northampton County upheld Johnson’s right to hold Casor as a slave, stating in it’s ruling:
“This daye Anthony Johnson negro made his complaint to the court against mr. Robert Parker and declared that hee deteyneth his servant John Casor negro under the pretence that said negro was a free man. The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master … It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.”
This case marked the first time anyone who had not committed a crime was held as a slave for life, thus making Anthony Johnson one of the first, if not the most notorious, slave owners (H/T Gateway Pundit).
The problem with slavery is not an issue of race, but an issue of the human condition. Greed and cowardice, not skin color, made Anthony Johnson and countless other slave owners commit such treacherous acts against humanity. Similarly, the black slaves brought to the colonies were sold to the America-bound slave ships by blacks in Africa.
More schools should teach the full story about slavery, including that of Anthony Johnson. But as long as schools and writers of history books are held hostage by liberals in academia with their victimization agenda, we know that will never happen.
The actual truth is often far different from what we might expect given the way we are taught things and the distortions afforded by those with a particular agenda.
The further away from an event in history we get, the more difficult it is to get history right. People, even "educated" people, tend to interpret history to fit their agenda.
It behooves us, therefore, to avail ourselves of documents written as close to the actual event in history. We are more likely to get it right by realizing that those who lived at the time knew more about an event than we can today. This truth has many implications and applications.
I was born in Miami, Florida, the son of an Air Force officer, traveled the world, was saved at age 17, and have served the Lord since. That's me on the left and my lovely wife, Bonnie...the pretty one...on the right.
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