Slavery & Emancipation
Some five hundred years ago, ships began transporting millions of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. This massive population movement helped create the African Diaspora in the New World. Many did not survive the horrible ocean journey. The enslaved Africans represented many different peoples, each with distinct cultures, religions, and languages. Most originated from the coast or the interior of West Africa, between present-day Senegal and Angola. Other enslaved peoples originally came from Madagascar and Tanzania in East Africa.
Even though slavery existed throughout the original thirteen colonies, nearly all the northern states, inspired by American independence, abolished slavery by 1804. As a matter of conscience, some southern slaveholders also freed their slaves or permitted them to purchase their freedom. Until the early 1800's, many southern states allowed these manumissions to legally take place. Although the Federal Government outlawed the overseas slave trade in 1808, the southern enslaved African-American population continued to grow.