Many Americans think they know the history of slavery because it has been taught in schools, repeated through popular films, and mentioned on numerous occasions by those in the media.
But here is something you probably didn’t know: The first recorded American slave owner was a black man.
Anthony Johnson came to colonial America in the 1600s. He worked as an indentured servant to a tobacco farmer in Virginia. In colonial times servants typically worked under a contract of up to seven years to pay off their passage, room and board, and then their “freedom dues” — materials they would need to start life as a free person.
They were then released after the contract expired, with many of the former servants receiving land and equipment. This was the case for Anthony Johnson, who came to America under the name Antonio from Angola.
After his contract expired, he eventually received 250 acres of land. He then started a farm and enlisted the servitude of four white men and one black, who was said to be his son Richard Johnson.
While these contracts did not make one a slave, the case of John Casor — a black servant Johnson later acquired — would set a precedent and change that minor detail forever.
John Casor was working for Anthony Johnson on an indentured contract when he began seeking help from outsiders, claiming that his contract had well expired but Johnson refused to release him.
A neighbor, Robert Parker, brought a civil case against Johnson, demanding Casor be released. Parker intended to help Casor find another indenture contract.
The courts initially ruled in favor of Parker and demanded that Casor be released. Johnson did so, but after stewing in his defeat, he appealed.
On March 8, 1655, the court of Northampton County upheld Johnson’s right to hold Casor as a slave, stating in it’s ruling:
“This daye Anthony Johnson negro made his complaint to the court against mr. Robert Parker and declared that hee deteyneth his servant John Casor negro under the pretence that said negro was a free man. The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master … It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.”
This case marked the first time anyone who had not committed a crime was held as a slave for life, thus making Anthony Johnson one of the first, if not the most notorious, slave owners (H/T Gateway Pundit).
The problem with slavery is not a race problem, but a human problem. Greed, cowardice, and childishness made Anthony Johnson and countless other slave owners commit such treacherous acts against humanity.
More schools should teach about the story of Anthony Johnson … but while they’re primarily funded by the government, we don’t expect to see that happen soon.
Share this story on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the word — because government schools and the liberal media definitely won’t!