The Real Resistance to Slavery in North America

By Russell Maroon Shoats/z

Long before the founding of the country, Africans were transported to what later became known as the United States of America. Some came as free individuals and companions of the Europeans from Spain and elsewhere. They were ship guides, sailors, soldiers, explorers, and adventurers. Others, however, were “enslaved” workers.

The earliest known enslaved Africans were brought by the Spanish to serve in a colony that was set up in what is today the Carolinas. There, within a couple of years (around 1528) the survivors are reported to have “rebelled and escaped to dwell amongst the Indians.”

In the mid-1500s, an even less-known but larger group came as “free colonizers” from South America. They numbered at least 300 and had been formerly enslaved but were part of a successful rebellion and takeover by enslaved Africans and English and “mixed-race” privateers, or pirates.

They, along with a larger group of *Indigenous South Americans were recruited by England to help shore up the failing English colony at Roanoke, Virginia/North Carolina. They eventually abandoned Roanoke and melted into the countryside — never to be heard from again.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Danish vied to control North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean islands. At that time, however, the Amerindians — contrary to popular myth — were still the strongest military power in all of those areas, not discounting the breakup and conquest of the large Aztec and Inca empires. Thus, Europeans were forced to use a strategy of “divide and conquer,” forming alliances of convenience with and using the various Amerindian ethnic groups and confederations to fight each other, primarily to enslave the defeated and sell them to the Europeans, keep all of them off balance while the European colonies were weak and, finally, to police the enslaved Africans and “indentured” whites.


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