• Exterior of Brown v. Board of Education NHS, the former Monroe Elementary School, at night.

    Brown v. Board of Education

    National Historic Site Kansas

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Colonial Era and Revolutionary War (1607-1783)

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1607 Jamestown, Virginia, is founded as the first permanent English settlement in America.

1619 A Dutch vessel brings 20 Africans to Virginia. These are the first Africans in the Jamestown colony. It is unknown if they are enslaved or indentured servants.

1623 William Tucker is the first African American born in the English colonies.

1629 The first enslaved Africans arrive in what is now Connecticut.

1634 Slavery is introduced into Maryland.

1637 Slavery is introduced into New Amsterdam (New York).

1641 Although Virginia is the first colony to have slaves, Massachusetts is the first English colony to legally recognize slavery, which is already a common practice in the colonies.

1641 Mathias De Sousa, African indentured servant who came from England with Lord Baltimore, is elected to Maryland's general assembly.

1642 "Fugitive slave" law passes in Virginia to penalize those who help enslaved people escape.

1650 Connecticut legalizes slavery.

1658 During the years of the English Civil War from 1640 to 1660, the ability of Englishmen to come to Virginia as indentured servants is severely limited. To correct this problem, Virginia lowers import duties to encourage the slave trade, in order to meet the need for labor.

1663 Maryland slave laws provide that all imported Africans are slaves. Free European women who marry enslaved men lose their freedom and all children born to such marriages are slaves.

1661 A Maryland law provides that conversion to Christianity does not change their status as slaves.

1663 Enslaved Africans and white indentured servants revolt in Gloucester County, Virginia. It is the first organized resistance to bondage in the colonies.

1670 African Americans represent approximately 5% of the population of Virginia.

1690 All English Colonies in North America have slaves.

1700 The number of African Americans in the English Colonies numbers 27,000.

1705 Virginia passes a law stating that only people of African descent can be slaves.

1712 Several enslaved African Americans are executed after a failed slave revolt. About 20 percent of the people in New York are enslaved African Americans.

1712 Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of enslaved Africans into the colony.

1724 African Americans outnumber whites in South Carolina by a factor of two to one.

1739 In South Carolina on September 9, 1739 a band of slaves marches down the road, carrying banners that proclaims "Liberty!". They shout out the same word. Led by an Angolan named Jemmy, the men and women continue to walk south, recruiting more slaves along the way. After the revolt, South Carolina passes legislation that limits the privileges of slaves. Slaves are no longer allowed to grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn their own money, or learn to read.

1740 There are 140,000 slaves in British North America. Only 15 percent of all slaves live in the North.

1754 Benjamin Bannecker, an African American, built the first American-made clock.

1758 The Quakers in Philadelphia exclude from church membership anyone who imports enslaved African Americans into the colony.

1769 Although he is a slave holder, Thomas Jefferson, introduces a bill in the Virginia House of Burgesses, to grant freedom to people held as slaves. The bill is rejected.

1770 Boston Massacre. Crispus Attucks, an African American who escaped slavery, is the first man to die for the cause of liberty.

1775 The American Revolution begins in Massachusetts. The Continental Congress opposes enlisting African Americans. The policy changes when the British offer freedom to African Americans who fight with them. Approximately 9,000 African Americans serve in the Continental Army.

1776 The idea of colonial independence rapidly gains momentum with the circulation of Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense. In Philadelphia, the delegates to the Continental Congress are divided on the issues of independence and the establishment of confederated colonies. On May 27, 1776, Congress receives the Virginia resolution and the movement toward independence quickens.

1776 The Declaration of Independence makes an eloquent plea for freedom with the following statement:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

In spite of this statement for freedom, African Americans still find themselves enslaved throughout most of the colonies.

1777 Vermont forbids slavery.

1780 Brom & Bett v. Ashley. Elizabeth Freeman, an enslaved woman, successfully sues for her freedom in Massachusetts. Her precedent eventually leads to the abolition of slavery in the state.

1780 The New York African Free School is established in New York City.

Did You Know?

Brown v. Board of Education NHS

The Brown v. Board of Education NHS is the only unit of the national park system named after a U.S. Supreme Court case.--Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site