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Fort Monroe and the Beginning of Slavery America
By Jim Newton

FMon image2019 marks the 400 year anniversary of a major event in one of the darkest periods of American history. An event which is, perhaps, unknown to most Americans. It is the 400 year anniversary of the first slaves to arrive in the British occupied land in what was to become the United States of America. A ship named the "White Lion” and flying the Dutch flag had recently done battle with the Portuguese ship "San Juan Bautista” in the Bay of Compeche off the coast of Mexico. The Dutch would often intercept in these shipping lines used by the Portuguese to transport Atrican slaves to Mexico for labor. The Dutch ship prevailed and numerous human cargo were captured. The slaves were from the country of Angola and were of the Bantu culture. The "White Lion” having now to make the long journey home was in dire need of rations. As a result, the ship sailed around the Florida peninsula ond up the east coast of the "New World” and arrived in 1619 at, what was then known as, Point Comfort, Virginia. Said site being known today as the location of Fort Monroe. After arriving, the Dutch traded approximately 20 slaves for provisions and supplies. The slaves loter became recognized for their many tolents. While in Mexico they had acquired many skills and had become experts in crop cultivation and the production of food. They were also adept blacksmiths. Two of the slaves, Anthoney and Isabell become servonts of Coptain William Tucker, commander of the fort at Point Comfort. Around 1624 the union of Anthoney and Isabell birthed the first Atrican child in the English North America and was given the name William Tucker.

So began over 240 years of slavery that started in England’s North American colonies and continued into the newly formed United States of America. Slavery was an indelible stain on America’s sole. Slavery was the biggest human transgression perpetrated by one human being on another. And through it all their descendants have endured with dignity the cruelest barbaric acts of enslavement.

Fort Monroe later become a symbol of freedom when 10,000 enslaved African Americans sought refuge there during the civil war (although Virginia had seceded from the Union and become a confederate state, Fort Monroe was still considered a part of the Union and was held by Union forces). On November 1, 2011 President Barack Obama declared Fort Monroe as a National Historic Monument. Special events to enlighten and inform the public about the beginnings of slavery in America are being held throughout 2019 at Fort Monroe.


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