A Black Women's History of the United States (OBOC 2021-2022)

Chapter Two: Angela’s Exodus Out of Africa, 1619-1760


The authors mention these websites in the chapter:

Additional reading

Wendy Ann Warren, “’The Cause of Her Grief:’ The Rape of a Slave in Early New England,” The Journal of American History, Vol. 93, no. 4

(March 2004): 1031-1049.

Ira Berlin and Leslie M. Harris, editors, Slavery in New York (NY: New Press, 2005). CSN has a copy of this book, WC library.

Loren Schweninger, “Freedom Suits, African American Women, and the Genealogy of Slavery,” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 1

(Jan. 2014): 35-62.


One Book One College Discussion/Essay/Reflection Prompts:

Chapter Two: “Angela’s Exodus out of Africa, 1619-1760”

1. Locate a present day map of the United States and a map reflecting the same area from 1619-1760, and identify where the areas named in Chapter Two—Spanish Florida, Sante Fe New Spain, Dutch New York, French Louisiana, and the British Colony of Virginia—existed. Discuss the personal freedoms of women who lived there then and of women who live there now. Trace how a woman of color’s race, marital status, and sexual orientation have affected her access to work, health care, and representation. Utilize concrete examples. Consult the Park Ethnography Program link.


2. Chapter Two opens with a quote from John Rolfe. Spend some time researching who John Rolfe was by visiting the following links: Historic Jamestowne and Pocahontas and John Rolfe. How does your research coupled with Chapter Two’s account of Rolfe match up to Disney’s or commercialized presentations of him?


3. Review the language of some of the laws and codes discussed in Chapter Two. How do they add to the concerted efforts of enslavers to exploit, diminish, and erase the lives of Black women and their children? Enlist the content of the links regarding slavery, slave trade, and slave laws related to Chapter Two to shape your response. Pay particular attention to the content found at these sites related to slave laws in Virginia: Virginia Slave Codes and Colonial Virginia Laws on Slavery and Servitude.


4. Berry and Gross assert that Black women from 1619-1760 “used whatever tools they had at their disposal to carve a space for themselves to be free or to survive captivity” (39). Pick one woman discussed in the chapter—you may have to do additional research on her—and discuss her use of her “tools.” What struck you about her story? Argue a case for her inclusion in a history book being written by a current high school textbook publisher.


5. Has the concept of body as property been eliminated? Consider the efforts of the women discussed in Chapter Two to gain control of their bodies. Compare them to other women then, after, and now. You may want to revisit the earlier discussion of “commodification of bodies” (22).

John Newton

Lyrics to the hymn, Amazing Grace, 1779, John Newton

1 Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)

that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

was blind, but now I see.


2 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

and grace my fears relieved;

how precious did that grace appear

the hour I first believed!


3 Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come:

'tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

and grace will lead me home.


4 The Lord has promised good to me,

his word my hope secures;

he will my shield and portion be

as long as life endures.


5 Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

and mortal life shall cease:

I shall possess, within the veil,

a life of joy and peace.


6 The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

the sun forbear to shine;

but God, who called me here below,

will be forever mine.


John Newton - resource guide - PBS

History of Slavery


Act XVI, Laws of Virginia, April 1691 (Hening’s Statutes at Large, 3: 87).


The first enslaved people were brought to the Virginia colony in 1619. The population of enslaved people grew quickly in the 1600s. Over time, lawmakers became concerned with reinforcing the idea of difference between the dark-skinned people who were enslaved, and the white-skinned people who were their masters. Much of the legislation targets women, because their ability to have children meant they could affect the status of future generations.

By legislating the outcomes of women’s sexual relationships, the Virginia Assembly hoped to divide the two races for generations to come.

Document Text 

And for prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may increase in this dominion, as well by negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, as by their unlawful accompanying with one another, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that for the time to come, whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negro, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever and that the justices of each respective county within this dominion make it their particular care, that this act be put in effectual execution, and be it further enacted, That if any English woman being free shall have a bastard child by any negro or mulatto, she pay the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, within one month after such bastard child shall be born, to the Church wardens of the parish where she shall be delivered of such child, and in default of such payment she shall be taken into the possession of the Church warders and disposed of for five years, and the said fine of fifteen pounds, or whatever the woman shall be disposed of for, shall be paid, one third part to their majesties for and towards the support of the government and the contingent charges thereof, and one other third part to the use of the parish where the offense is committed, and the other third part to the informer, and that such bastard child be bound out as a servant by the said Church wardens until he or she shall attain the age of thirty years, and in case such English woman that shall have such bastard child be a servant, she shall be sold by the said church wardens, (after her time is expired that she ought by law to serve her master) for five years, and the money she shall be sold for divided as is before appointed, and the child to serve as aforesaid.


During the 17th century, the English colonies hoped to meet their labor with indentured servants. Individuals entered into a contractual relationship, promising to serve a master for a fixed number of years, after which the servant became free. Many individuals entered into such arrangements in order to gain passage to North America, but some convicts could escape imprisonment or death by agreeing to become indentured labor in America. Despite numerous indentured servants who crossed the Atlantic, they were too few and their labor too temporary to serve the needs of the South's emerging plantation economy. Virginia and other Southern colonies responded by turning to African slaves for their work force. The first Africans arrived at Jamestown in 1619, but it was not until later in the century that distinctions emerged between the institutions of slavery and indentured servitude. In the following excerpt, Robert Beverly differentiates between the two. Virginia born and English educated, Beverly served as clerks of the General Court, Assembly, and Council, and represented Jamestown in the House of Burgesses.

Their servants they distinguish by the names of slaves for life, and servants for a time.

Slaves are the negroes and their posterity, following the condition of the mother.... They are

called slaves, in respect of the time of their servitude, because it is for life.

Servants, are those which serve only for a few years, according to the time of their indenture,

or the custom of the country. The custom of the country takes place upon such as have no

indentures. The law in this case is, that if such servants be under nineteen years of age . . . they

must serve until they reach four and twenty; but if they be adjudged upwards of nineteen, they are then only to servants for the term of five years.

. . . The male servants, and slaves of both sexes, are employer together in tilling and manuring the ground, in sowing and planting tobacco and corn. Some distinction indeed is made between them in their clothes, and food but the work of both is no other than what the overseers, the freemen, and the planters themselves do. Sufficient distinction is also made between the female servant, and slaves; for a white woman is rarely or never put to work in the ground, if she be good for anything else; and to discourage all planters from using any woman so, their law makes female servants working in the ground tithables, while it suffers all other white women to be absolutely exempted; whereas, on the other hand, it a common thing to work a woman slave out of doors, nor does the law make any distinction in her taxes, whether her work be outside or at home. . . . Because I have heard how strangely cruel and severe the service of this country is represented in some parts of England, I can't forebear affirming, that the work of their servants and slaves is no other than what every common freeman does; neither is any servant required to do more in a day than his overseer. And I can assure you, with great truth, that generally their slaves are not worked near so hard, nor so many hours in a day, as the husbandmen, and day laborers in England. An overseer is a man, that having served his time, has acquired the skill and character of an experienced planter, and is therefore entrusted with the direction of the servants and slaves. But to complete this account of servants, I shall give you a short account of the care their laws take, that they be used as tenderly as possible:



1.) All servants whatsoever have their complaints heard without fee or reward; but if the master be found faulty, the charge of the complaint is cast upon him, otherwise the business is done ex officio.

2.)Any justice of the peace may receive the complaint of a servant, and order everything relating thereto, till the next country court, where it will be finally determined.

3.) All masters are under the correction and censure of the county courts, to provide for their servants food and wholesome diet, clothing and lodging.

4.) They are always to appear upon the first notice given of the complaint of their servants, otherwise to forfeit the service of them until they do appear.

5.) All servants' complaints are to be received at any time in court, without process, and shall not be delayed for want of form; but the merits of the complaint must be immediately enquired

into by the justices; and if the master may cause any delay therein, the court may remove such servants, if they see cause, until the master will come to trial.

6.) If a master shall at any time disobey an order of court, made upon any complaint of a servant, the court is empowered to remove such servant forthwith to another master who will be kinder, giving to the former master the produce only, (after fees deducted,) of what such servants shall be sold for by public outcry.

7.) If a master should be so cruel, as to use his servant ill, . . . and thereby rendered unfit for labor, he must be removed by the church wardens out of the way of such cruelty, and boarded in some good planter's house, till the time of his freedom, the charge of which must be laid before the next county court, which has power to levy the same, from time to time, upon the goods and chattels of the master, after which, the charge of such boarding is to come upon the parish in general.

8.) All hired servants are entitled to these privileges.

9.) No master of a servant can make a new bargain for service, or other matter with his servant, without the consent of the county court, to prevent the masters overreaching, or scaring such servant into an unreasonable compliance.

10.) The property of all money and goods sent over thither to servants, or carried in with them, is reserved to themselves, and remains entirely at their disposal.

11.) Each servant at his freedom receives of his master ten bushels of corn, (which is sufficient for almost a year,) two new suits of clothes, both linen and woolen, and a gun, twenty shillings value, and then becomes as free in all respects, and as much entitled to the liberties and privileges of the country, as any of the inhabitants or natives are, if such servants were not aliens.

12.) Each servant has then also a right to take up fifty acres of land, where he can find any unpatented.

converted to html by Laura Belmonte, Dept. of History, Oklahoma State University

Slavery in Virginia and law code - Includes a timeline and text of the codification of slavery in colonial Virginia

Colonial Virginia Laws on Slavery and Servitude


Petition against the slave trade - This is from the National Archives, an online tool for teaching with documents.

Analyzing a petition about slavery - This is related to the document, gives some pointers on how to use this document in the classroom.

Elizabeth Keye (Kaye) - From Colonial Williamsburg, about Elizabeth Keye (Kaye), slave woman petitions for freedom.

Rediscovering The Stories Of Self-Liberating People - A database including a number of advertisements from colonial newspapers looking for runaway slaves.

Louisiana’s Code Noire

Code Noire 1724

Maroon Communities in the US

Maroon Communities

Maroons during a Revolutionary period

Map of Maroon Communities - Information about archeology where some of these maroon communities are located. This also includes an interview by an author who wrote about this subject, Sylvianne Diouf, Slavery Exiles: The Story of the American Maroons.(UNLV Lied Library has a copy of this book)

South Carolina Maroon Communities

Keeping their freedom