This is a wonderful overview of slavery and the abolitionist movement in America with concise explanations and historical reference points.
1526 A group of Africans is brought to South Carolina by a Spanish explorer to erect a settlement. They escape and settle with Native Americans.
1565 African slaves are brought to Spanish colony of St. Augustine.
1607 Jamestown is settled. It is the first permanent settlement in the colony of Virginia. The Virginia Company of London finances the settlement with the expectation of seeing profits from harvesting Virginia's raw resources.
1612 John Rolfe plants Caribbean tobacco seeds in the rich Virginia soil. Tobacco becomes the exported product that makes Virginia a wealthy colony.
1619 The first recorded Africans in the colony of Virginia arrive at Jamestown on a Dutch ship. Colonial Williamsburg historians believe these Africans were indentured servants.
1639 Blacks in Virginia are not required to bear arms although white settlers must.
1640 An African servant, John Punch, and two servants of European descent are captured while attempting to run away. The European servants are required to serve additional time as part of their punishment. John Punch is sentenced to lifetime servitude. This is the first recorded case of slavery prescribed by law in the colony of Virginia.
1641 Massachusetts Bay Colony legalizes slavery.
1642 Black women are counted as tithables-taxable property. Virginia passes a law making it illegal to help runaway slaves, punishable by 20 pounds of tobacco for each night of assistance.
1660 Virginia legalizes slavery.
1661 Children born to enslaved mothers are considered slaves as well, regardless of their fathers' status. Children of enslaved fathers and free mothers are not considered slaves.
1667 By law, slaves baptized into the church are still considered to be slaves.
1669 Accidentally killing a slave during correction is not considered a crime.
1670 Blacks and Native Americans are not permitted to own servants of another race. All non-Christians arriving in the colony by water are hereafter considered slaves.
1671 Black slaves are considered property in real estate appraisals.
1672 Runaway slaves resisting capture may be killed. Virginia passes a law putting a bounty on the heads of escaped Africans who formed communities in and around the Great Dismal Swamp bordering Virginia and North Carolina.
1680 The ages of imported black children are to be determined and documented within three months of arrival in the colony.
Blacks are forbidden to possess any type of weapon.
Slaves must have permission before leaving their plantation of residence.
Slaves are forbidden to raise a hand against any Christian. An act punishing slave insurrection is in force.
1682 All non-Christians coming into Virginia by any means are considered slaves, whether or not they convert to Christianity.
A court of oyer and terminer (a Latin term meaning "hear and decide") is established to try all slaves accused of crimes. No jury hears the cases and there is no right to appeal the court's decision.
Blacks are required to give up ownership of cattle, horses, and sheep.
1688 Mennonite Quakers in Pennsylvania sign an anti-slavery resolution.
1705 "An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves" revises and strengthens most of the laws regarding slavery.
1710 Slaves who turn in other slaves planning insurrections or revolts are to be set free by law.
1739 Stono Rebellion takes place 20 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina after the governor tells slaves they can go to St. Augustine, Florida and be free. A group of fugitives escape, killing 21 whites along the way. After their capture, 43 slaves are executed.
1740 North Carolina passes a law to prosecute people helping slaves to escape.
1769 Matthew Ashby, a free black man living in Williamsburg, Virginia, obtains the freedom (via petition and purchase) of his wife, Ann, and his two children, John and Mary. Ashby may have been one of a group that successfully petitioned the court to eliminate the tax on free black women.
In the Somerset Case, an English court rules in favor of a slave brought into England from British colony who claims he is a free man.
1773 George Lile and Andres Bryan organize the first African American Baptist Church at Savannah, Georgia. Members of this church helped escaping slaves.
1775 Governor Dunmore of Virginia issues an emancipation proclamation that imposes martial law in Virginia and offers freedom to indentured servants and slaves willing to fight for the King of England.
Slave insurrection occurs in the western part of Virginia.
First abolitionist society formed in Philadelphia.
1776 Delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, which begins, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
1787 U.S. Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance, which provides for territorial government and eventual statehood for the area north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. Slavery is prohibited in any of this new territory.
The Free African society is organized in Philadelphia by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. The form the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which assisted escaped slaves.
1792 Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin.
1793 U.S. Congress passes the Fugitive Slave Act to protect the rights of slave owners to retrieve runaway slaves from free states and territories.
1801 The Gabriel Plot for rebellion in Henrico, County, Virginia is suppressed.
1803 Haitians win independence from France and abolish slavery.
1804 Nearly all Northern states have abolished slavery by this time.
1808 U.S. Congress passes a law to end the importation of African slaves.
1816 Federal troops engage in war against Seminoles and escaped slaves in Florida.
1817 The first free Africans are repatriated to Sierra Leone.
1820 The Missouri Compromise admits Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state to maintain the balance of 12 free and 12 slave states in the United States. All territory north of latitude 36-30' is declared free, all territory south of the line is slaveholding.
1822 A slave revolt led by Denmark Vesey is suppressed in Charleston, South Carolina, 36 collaborators are hanged.
1830 Formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society by Lewis Tappan. Vigilance commitees are formed in northern cities to prevent return of slaves to the south.
1831 William Lloyd Garrison publishes The Liberator.
Nat Turner, a slave who believed God had chosen him to lead slaves out of bondage, leads an insurrection killing 51 whites in Southampton County, Virginia. He and his followers were caught. Turner was convicted of treason at his trial; hanged, skinned and boiled. More stringent slave laws were enacted following his rebellion.
1833 Oberlin College in Ohio is founded as an integrated institution and becomes a center of abolitionist and underground railroad activity.
All slavery is abolished in the British Empire, including Canada.
1832 New England Anti-Slavery Society is formed.
1837 Abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy killed in Alton, Illinois.
1840 New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont and Ohio pass a series of "personal liberty laws."
Enslaved African revolt on the Spanish ship Amistad off the coast of Cuba.
1843 Prigg vs. Pennysylvania challenging the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.
1847 Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and tremendous abolitionist orator, begins publication of the newspaper, The North Star.
1848 First Women's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York.
1849 Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery, begins helping others to escape.
1850 The Fugitive Slave Law is passed by Congress strengthening the 1793 Act. Federal officers are now offered a fee for returning runaway slaves.
1852 Dew, James H. Hammond and others issue strong proslavery arguments adopted by southern states.
Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin.
1857 U.S. Supreme Court decides in the Dred Scott decision that slaves do not become free when taken into free territory.
1859 John Brown and others attack the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia to prepare to free slaves. Ten of his men were killed, he and seven others were hanged after trial.
1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected president. South Carolina is the first state to secede from the Union.
First Conscription Act for Union troops made all men 20-45, liable to military service, but service could be avoided by payment of $300 or procuring a substitute to enlist for three years. State quotas were fixed (proportionate to total population) and states given credit for previous enlistments. The draft was regarded as inequitable to the poor.
The first drawings provoked serious riots in working-class quarters in New York City, culminating (13-16 July) in the New York City Draft Riots, four days of pillaging and lynching of African Americans, chiefly participated in by Irish-Americans, required the dis-patch to New York of regiments de-tached from Meade's army.
The Confederacy first relied on enlistments; then, drafted into military service every white man (18-35) for three years. The lower classes denounced the long list of exempted occupations as well as the privilege of sending substitutes; many Southern leaders questioned the constitutionality of conscription.
General. B. F. Butler, in command of Fortress Monroe, Va., ruled that slaves escaping to his lines were "contraband of war" which he would not return to their masters.
General Johm C. Fremont issued a proclamation declaring that slaves of Missourians taking up arms against the U.S. were free. Lincoln modified this order (2 Sept.) to conform to existing federal law.
Kansas admitted to the Union as a free state. Eleven states secede from the Union. The Civil War begins.
1863 The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln, frees slaves in the seceding States.
1865 Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution making slavery illegal and extending civil rights to former slaves. The Civil War ends with Union victory.
1866 U.S. Congress passes the Fourteenth Amendment extending civil rights to former slaves.
1869 U.S. Congress passes the Fifteenth Amendment permitting men to vote without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
This time line was found at Kentucky's Underground Railroad: Passage to Freedom as part of the U.S. National Timeline. http://www.ket.org/underground/timeline/ustime.htm