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Sun Feb 10, 2019, 03:27 PM

What I learned today - John Punch. [View all]

I ran into this story via Brooklynite's thread about Gov. Northam.

John Punch. Often referred to as the "first slave in the New World" but really he has the first slave in the English colonies.

John Punch was a servant of Virginia planter Hugh Gwyn, a wealthy landowner, a justice, and a member of the House of Burgesses, representing Charles River County (which would become York County in 1642).[13]

In 1640, Punch ran away to Maryland accompanied by two of Gwyn's European indentured servants. All three were caught and returned to Virginia. On 9 July, the Virginia Governor's Council, which served as the colony's highest court, sentenced both Europeans to have their terms of indenture extended by another four years each. However, they sentenced Punch to a life of servitude. In addition, the council sentenced the three men to thirty lashes each.[1]

John Punch Wasn't the First Slave in America -- Just the First Slave in the English Colonies

One of the problems with the announcement this week is the researchers said "first slave in the United States," meaning the thirteen English colonies on the East Coast, but should have said the thirteen colonies or North American colonies, because some of the media, picking up on the story, simply wrote the “colonies.” Researchers should have identified the “colonies,” because the date they named for the first slave -- 1640, when John Punch was sentenced to a lifetime of perpetual slavery in Virginia -- was hundreds of years after African slavery began in the Americas.

By 1640, other African slaves were enchained in chattel slavery in the Spanish, Portuguese, and English colonies in the Carribbean and South America.

There was a Spanish colony established in 1526 in South Carolina, San Miguel de Gualdape, built in today’s South Carolina (possibly Georgia -- the exact location remains obscured) by African slave labor. The colony was abandoned the following year after a slave revolt. Another, more permanent colony was established in Florida in 1565 -- Saint Augustine.

So, when the burgesses who ruled the Virginia colony sentenced John Punch to indentured servitude in perpetuity, they sentenced him to a form of chattel slavery that already existed in the New World -- even in what would become the United States. He was not the first slave in America -- merely the first slave owned by the English.


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Reply What I learned today - John Punch. [View all]
underpants Feb 10 OP
appalachiablue Feb 10 #1