Between 1450 and 1850, at least 12 million Africans were shipped from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean the notorious Middle Passage primarily to colonies in North America, South America and the West Indies. Eighty percent of these kidnapped Africans were transported during the 18th century. Ten percent to 20 percent of them died en route. Unknown numbers of Africans, probably at least 4 million, died in slave wars and forced marches in Africa. In 1619, a Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans for food in Jamestown. The Africans became indentured servants, similar in legal position to many poor Englishmen who traded several years of labor for passage to America. The race-based slave system did not develop until the 1680s. In 1638 an African man could be sold for about $27 and
serve his entire life as a slave. In contrast, an indentured European laborer could earn as much as 70 cents a day toward paying off his debt and ending his servitude. In 1660 the trans-Atlantic slave trade begins, producing one of the largest forced migrations in history. From the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries, between 10 million and 11 million Africans were taken from their homes. The American colonies began enacting laws that defined and regulated slave relations, including a provision that black slaves, and the children of women slaves, would serve for life. Slave owners gave a great deal of attention to the education and training of the ideal slave. In general, there were five steps in molding the character of a slave: strict discipline, a sense of his own inferiority, belief in the master's superiority, acceptance of the master's standards and a deep sense of his own helplessness and dependence. In 1797 George Washington writes," I wish from my soul that the legislature of [Virginia] could see a policy of a gradual abolition of slavery." Two years later, Washington revised his will, providing for his slaves to be freed after his death. Some 122 of the 314 slaves at Mount Vernon were freed; the others were Martha Washington's and by law owned by her heirs. Washington left instructions for the care and education of his former slaves, including financial support for the young and pensions for the elderly.
In 1865 on June 19, two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers land at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war
has ended and that the slaves are free. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
After the Civil War, Congress authorized the creation of six segregated black regiments to serve in the peace-time army, under white officers. The Ninth and 10th cavalries and the 38th through 41st infantries were formed. The new cavalries were mainly stationed in the Southwest and the Great Plains, where it was their responsibility to build forts and maintain order on a frontier overrun by outlaws and occupied by Native Americans who were battling land-grabbing intruders. The black troops earned the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" as much for their ability in battle as for their dark skin from the Cheyenne Indians.
In 1866 Congress overrides President Andrew Johnson's veto...