One was white, one black. One was from England, one from Africa. One, almost certainly, owned the other. The black family included the first identified African child born on the mainland of English America — the first African American. Four centuries later, as America shreds itself over the racial legacy that began in that home, two women will meet where it all started. One is white, one black.
Roots of slavery
Forced Marriage as a 12-Year-Old Girl: The Life of America's Last Slave Ship Survivor
On February 19, , Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts senator, wrote his supporters about an enslaved 7-year-old girl whose freedom he had helped to secure. She would be joining him onstage at an abolitionist lecture that spring. She is neatly outfitted in a plaid dress, with a solemn expression on her face, and looks for all the world like a white girl from a well-to-do family. Newspapers from Maine to Washington, D. The name referred to the title character of Ida May: A Story of Things Actual and Possible , a thrilling novel, published just three months earlier, about a white girl who was kidnapped on her fifth birthday, beaten unconscious and sold across state lines into slavery. The author, Mary Hayden Green Pike, was an abolitionist, and her tale was calculated to arouse white Northerners to oppose slavery and to resist the Fugitive Slave Act, the five-year-old federal law demanding that suspected slaves be returned to their masters.
The history of sexual slavery in the United States is the history of slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation as it exists in the United States. African-American slaves were systematically raped or forced to breed with other slaves. Early American colonists were largely male, and some men resorted to force to procure wives. Native American women were often captured to be traded, sold, or taken as wives. Currently, under federal law , a prostitute is considered a victim of human trafficking if he or she is either under 18 or is being controlled through force, fraud or coercion. However, this is not fully implemented, and in many states, prostitutes who are considered victims under federal law are still arrested and prosecuted under state law. As early as the s, Christopher Columbus established trade in sex slaves on Hispaniola , which included sex slaves as young as nine years old. From the beginning of African slavery in the North American colonies, slaves were often viewed as property, rather than people. Slave women , men, and children were often raped by white overseers, planter's younger sons before they married, other white men, and in some cases white women associated with the slaveholders. Slave breeding was the attempt by a slave-owner to increase the reproduction of his slaves for profit.
The daguerreotype shows a 7-year old girl. Her face is pale, her expression somber. Her elegant plaid dress, trimmed in lace, and the notebook on the cloth-covered table behind her, suggest that she comes from a prosperous family. Though modest, the photograph taken in Boston in , is actually historic. It shows not a white child but a black girl — Mary Mildred Williams — who was born into slavery. It was an image so compelling to white Americans at the time that it helped transform the abolition movement. Housed in relative obscurity at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the daguerreotype was recently rediscovered by the photographer and scholar Jessie Morgan-Owens while researching her dissertation. Morgan-Owens wrote. Mary is now the subject of Ms. Mary and her family had been enslaved in Virginia.