In the early 17th Century, Portugal and Spain dominated the African slave trade. Over the course of several hundred years, about 95% of the slave cargoes purchased from African dealers ended up in South and Central America and the Caribbean islands. England was the newcomer to New World plantations; Jamestown, founded in 1607, being the first to survive. English “sea dogs” though, raided the Spanish Main, seizing valuable cargoes of gold and silver, and occasionally African slaves. King James of England prohibited the seizure of Spanish ships, and stopped issuing letters of marque that allowed for such depredations. In 1619, two English-flagged ships, White Lion and Treasurer, waylaid the San Juan Batista and the African survivors of the “middle passage,” destined for slavery in South America. Aware of the King’s prohibitions, and fearing exposure, the English captain sailed to Jamestown where the governor took the Africans off his hands.
The Spanish San Juan Bautista Battles the English Treasurer and White Lion
Thirty-two Ndongo tribesmen, victims of the Imbangala, “a rampaging class of renegade marauders,” and their Portuguese slave merchants, made landfall in Jamestown on August 20, 1619, where some were kept as slaves and others indentured out to plantations along the James and York Rivers. The seventeen females and fifteen male Angolan natives proved expert cattlemen and traders, and the stories of their subsequent years of working off the indentures, marrying with Powhatan natives, English, and one another, provide a number of amazing Providential stories of success.