The extensive use of African labor in Brazil and the Caribbean by the Spanish for farming purposes during the 16th and 17th centuries led British and other European colonists to do the same in North America, where Native American and indentured servant populations were insufficient to meet the demands for agricultural labor.
Most Africans brought to North America were used to produce the export crops (tobacco, rice, indigo, and cotton) that became a major source of wealth for European nations and their colonies.
Sadly, the English settlers of North America turned to black slavery to solve their labor shortage. Spain forcibly brought at least 100,000 Africans to Mexico during the 16th century, although England did not engage extensively in the slave trade until the Royal African Company was established in 1663.
Although a few free Africans came to colonial America as indentured servants in 1619, their status was different than that of the white indentured servants, who remained the backbone of the agricultural labor force until the end of the 17th century.
As white workers improved their status during this period, however, both free and enslaved blacks were subjected to outrageous laws punishing slave disobedience, prohibiting salary increases, limiting their freedom and ensuring that the political rights and economic opportunities granted to whites would not be granted to Africans.
African-Americans bravely resisted enslavement in Africa, but, outnumbered by whites, North American slaves were less likely to engage in massive rebellions. Africans in North America typically underwent "obedience training" in the West Indies and were harshly punished for practicing their culture and beliefs. Retention of African skills and social patterns was not at all common among North American slaves since most young slaves were born in the U.S. Only in South Carolina, where slaves were a majority of the population, did...