Cotton Slavery

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Before Cotton
Before the common ideas of slavery there was two hundred years full of progressing hatred, promise, and potential freedom for African Americans. These years were not accompanied by slaves picking cotton but split up into three stages or generations. The first is the Charter Generation which was a time for promise and potential freedom. The Plantation Generation was the production of products like rise, tobacco, indigo, and was also the beginning of slave degradation. The Revolutionary Generation was an age for ideas about slavery and what it really means. All of these fall under a time before the cotton fields so commonly thought of when someone mentions slavery.

The people of the Charter Generation are referred to as the slaves who came to North America before the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The important aspect of this generation is that about one-fifth to one-fourth of these slaves gained their freedom. Anthony Johnson’s story accurately represents life for some of the slaves in this period. He was known as a hard worker and survived the Indian raid of 1622 in Jamestown. Due to his accomplishments and reputation he was allowed to marry, farm independently, and baptize his kids. In 1651, Anthony earned 250 acres of land to farm which was a fair amount of land for anyone at the time and his sons followed in his footsteps both earning significant plots of land. He also used the law to lengthen his success and in one example won a slave back from a white land owner in court. This was all possible in the Charter Generation and many stories like Antony’s were found all over North America.

Unlike the slaves of the Charter Generation those of the Plantation Generation came looking for equal success and only found harder work and a loss of culture. Most in this generation lived in large estates in the deeper part of North America, concealed and made it more difficult for slaves to escape. The growth of this generation was lead by greed...
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