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Source: Press Release
Date: December 14, 2010
Byline: National Park Service/City of Philadelphia

The President's House: Slavery Timeline

1619Enslaved Africans brought to Jamestown, Virginia.
1641Massachusetts legally recognizes slavery.
1662Virginia law determines status of children will be same as that of the mother.
1684Ship Isabella brings150 enslaved Africans to Philadelphia.
1705Virginia law determines imported servants who were not Christians in native country are slaves; slaves are chattel property, and may be disciplined or killed without penalty.
1780Pennsylvania passes the Gradual Abolition Act prohibiting importation of enslaved Africans into the state and guarantees future children of enslaved Pennsylvania mothers will be born free but indentured until age twenty-eight.
1783Massachusetts abolishes slavery.
1787Transporting enslaved persons into the Northwest Territory is banned.
1787The Constitution states that Congress may not interfere with the slave trade until 1808. Pennsylvania legislature amends1780 Gradual Abolition Act; prohibits transportation of a pregnant enslaved woman out of state (so the child would be born enslaved) or separation of enslaved family members by more than ten miles; requires registration of the child of an enslaved mother within 6 months of birth.
1791Washington circumvents law by transporting enslaved servants out of state before six-month residency in Pennsylvania.
1793Fugitive Slave Act reinforces the Constitutional right of a slaveholder to recover a runaway slave.
1794Slave Trade Act makes it illegal for American ships to engage in the slave trade and to sell enslaved people abroad.
1808Children born after 1780 to enslaved Pennsylvania mothers are freed of their indentures under the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act.
1808Congress bans international slave trade; smuggling continues.
1820Missouri Compromise establishes boundaries of slavery in Louisiana Purchase territory.
1847Pennsylvania legislature frees all enslaved in the state.
1850Compromise of 1850 makes it easier for slaveholders to retrieve escapees.
1851Largest trial for treason in U.S. history occurs in Philadelphia. Thirty-eight black and white Pennsylvanians attempt to prevent the seizing of suspected runaway slaves in Pennsylvania. One is found not guilty; charges against the rest are dismissed.
1857Dred Scott Supreme Court decision rules Congress may not ban slavery in states or territories, and African Americans are not citizens.
1860Federal census counts almost four million enslaved in the U.S.
1863President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation.
1865The Thirteenth Amendment to abolishes slavery in the U.S.



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