Sen. Kaine, the U.S. did not invent slavery

On June 16, Sen. Tim Kaine shattered my understanding of U.S. history. On the floor of the Senate he proclaimed, “The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it. It was created by the Virginia General Assembly and the legislatures of other states.”

I recall being taught that the U.S. declared its independence from England in 1776. As the first African slaves, captured from a Spanish ship headed to Mexico, were delivered to Virginia in 1619, and Virginia passed a slavery law in 1661, my recollection is clearly incorrect.

I would also note that it is generally acknowledged that Native American tribes had forms of slavery that pre-date European colonization.

The Spanish brought the first African slaves to the New world in 1501. In 1526, Spain brought the first African slaves to what is now the Georgia coast. France did the same into the Louisiana area beginning in 1719.

According to Henry Louis Gates Jr., of the 10.7 million slaves that survived the passage from Africa, 388,000 were transported to North America under control of England, Spain and France, and later the U.S.

A total of 10.3 million slaves were transported to colonies controlled by Portugal, Spain, England, Holland and Denmark—more than 27 times the number brought into what is now the U.S.

Mr. Gates also states that free African Americans owned fellow African slaves as early as 1619. Native Americans also kept African slaves.

Sen. Kaine must be wrong. Spain, France and England created African American slavery in what is now the U.S., and Northern European, Hispanic, Native American, free African Americans and Africans all participated in the slave trade.

Yes, to our discredit, we did not dismantle the vile system that was already in place when we declared our independence. But the history of slavery clearly predates the U.S.

Todd Blose


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