tv 1619 - First Africans in Virginia CSPAN March 25, 2021 10:23pm-11:19pm EDT
rick murphy talks about his book arrival of the first africans in virginia, which profiles the 20th africans who arrived in jamestown colony and hundred 19. the group included murphy zone ancestors. the virginia museum of history and culture hosted event and provided the video. >> today's a lecture takes place about 200 years prior. in the 1619, a group of african men and women arrived on the shores of virginia. they had been kidnapped in the city outside angola and forced onto spanish slave ships, and one bautista. the ship was attacked, and they
were taken by the english to their new colony. this group has been shrouded in controversy ever since. today, our speaker is rick murphy, and historian who explains the rich contributions made by african americans and united states history. rick has a bachelors degree from the university of massachusetts, and a masters degree from boston university. he is the author of several books, including the subject of today's lecture, arrival of the first africans in virginia, which explores the fascinating story of colonialism, treason, piracy, kidnapping, and enslavement, and british law. please welcome rick murphy. >> adam, thank you very much for that introduction, and thank you for your warm reception today. i'm going to take you through
the writing of the book and the arrival of the first african americans in virginia i will tell you some behind the scenes stories, tell you how i got involved in this, and more important, i will hope to explain who the first africans were who arrived in virginia, and subsequently, english america. when i first put pen to paper, there were some things i wanted to do. if you see me drinking water, i don't want to half interrupting myself. i found it very interesting who the men, women, and children were. my interest in the story, i hoped, would be the same interest all of you would have. when i put pen to paper, i want to talk about the significance of who these angolans were, where they came from, the importance and african society that they had, that --
and equally important, the conditions in which they lived once they were here. when it comes to history and our knowledge of history, and particularly for authors, we tend to write what we know, and we only know what we are trying to exclude. i knew nothing of virginia's history. i knew nothing about the founding of jamestown, the representative government. i never learned about the arrival of the 20. i knew a bit about bacon's rebellion. i had no context of how the colonies got into the revolutionary war.
eric people will ask, how is it that they didn't know? if you can't tell from my accent, i'm from massachusetts. we had our own very distinct history. i learned about the arrival of the mayflower, the founding of plymouth rock, the mayflower compact, the arrival of the 100 pilgrims. i learned about america's first thanksgiving and the boston tea party, and the shot heard round the world that lexington and concord. that was the basis of my learning in school and my historical knowledge of colonial america. when i first got into this, i didn't do it as a historian. frankly, i fell into this strictly by accident. what i want to do is to explain to you how i as a historian and genealogy just came to learn about the 20 and odd.
my story starts in the early -- the family owned a substantial tract of land on martha's vineyard that goes back to the 1700s. in this land dispute, we were told we would have to create a family pedigree. that dumbfounded us, particularly myself and siblings hand cousins, because in my family, we raised german shepherds. when you think of a family pedigree, we only knew of the american kamala so see a shunned, aka, and that was the raising of poppies. we didn't see ourselves as pure breads or puppies. but we learned that discussion was one of creating a family
pedigree. what's we had to do was construct a family lineage going back to the 1700s that clearly documented that our family owned the land. this dispute with a very famous person who had a lot of money and hired an attorney, because they didn't want any kind of problems in the press. truncating the story, we entered into a settlement. this is the land, what a beautiful track of land. that's one of the most expensive tracts of land there can be. this tract of land, once the settlement came about, this was on my maternal grandfather's side of the family, my maternal
grandmother wanted us to do in investigation on land that her family owned. the land was the land that later became red gate farm, the property owned by jackie kennedy onassis. if you look at the right arrow, you can see the background, and the picture is the land that we own a. she wanted to take as much land as she could. i mentioned how my grandmother wanted us to do an investigation on her family in terms of all the land that the family-owned. my grandmother born in massachusetts, her parents came from grand bill county, north
carolina. she often talked about how the family owned thousands of thousands of people. as a young people, they had no meeting to, us but she insisted i begin to do a similar type of research, and in that research, find out about the land arguments. my mother joined the -- . so i would come down to dar, go to their library, and i began to research the documents on grand ville, north carolina. my grandmother, as i knew her made, name she knew her grandmother's made a name and i was able to find my first great-grandparents birth certificate, both of their parents birth certificates.
that took me very much to the early 1980s. but then, unlike massachusetts that had every birth, deaf, and merit certificate going back to the 1600, i had to start looking at the land acts. what's interesting, what i am about to do and share with you, had i done it through a genie illogical perspective, i would have never been able to share the story. because i did it in an unusual way, through the land, records which is what my grandmother had requested, we were able to find an awful lot of information. i drove down to the granville county courthouse, and lowell and behold, not only did i find land patents, i found the original family land deed, actually signed by lord granville himself. lord granville, the county named after him.
from that, i was able to find other abstract going back, and what it actually enabled me to do was track the family land and in tracking the family land, it took me all the way back to virginia. these land records were very interesting, because when someone dies with land, they leave the name their family. so they almost provided a genealogy, and with that enabled me to do, as you can see here, if you look at the bottom, my grandmother's maiden name, i found her father. his father was edward. his father was edward. his father was edward. his father was edward. to william, to mcgill, and john. i knew nothing about virginia's history. i was not looking for these individuals from a historical
perspective. i was only looking at them, looking for them, in a genial audio perspective, and frankly, i wasn't even looking for that. i was looking for land records. as you can see, the land records took me in a direct line from north carolina to the james river. flipping that technically meant that the family started and ended in north carolina and grand bill county. these are just some of the articles i used at the dar library. nothing mysterious about it.
it was not trying to do anything fancy, but these are the books that had interesting records and them. when i was able to do was to absolutely connect a family genealogy from my first, my second great grandmother, all the way through to my 11th great-grandfather. fortunate for me, the family only -- at my grandmother's grandmother, and because i knew her, i was able to follow all the men from land patent to land patent. they even showed how they sold land in one location to purchase land in another location. that became quite invaluable to me. in doing this research, the clear blue sky, i made a remarkable discovery. the discovery of 1619.
and i will explain a bit about 1619 and how i made this discovery, but those of you who are virginians and no virginia history knew that 1619 was the year of the first representative government in july of 1619, and a month later in august 1619, was the arrival of what was known as the 20 and odd. and you can see the document here aka where he refers to them as 20 and odd. but that's really not the number who came here. the white lion was the first ship to arrive on august 25th, 1619. three or four days later arrived the treasure, as documented in colonial records. in my research, in 1984, 85,
two publications came out in the william mary quarterly. in those two documents, a danish researcher explained the story about a ship called the sand one bautista. and that ship was pirated by two english ships and for a whole year, i tried to piece together the story in william and mary quarterly. then the next year, what happened is john 14 came up with a book. it is william and mary volume 54, april 1997. if you want to look it up, that is. the following year, john 14, came up with a book and he explained where they came from and the historical significance
of the city where they came from, which i will get into momentarily. i now have a wealth of material that allows me to understand the arrival of the first africans in virginia this wasn't anything i was planning, because had i've been looking, i would have never found this. i found it purely by accident. those of you who are genealogy snow we all have a secret, and the secret is our ancestors speak to us. frankly, my ancestors spoke to me, because they said we have to look farther, most unusual. when i wrote the book, i wanted to talk about the historical significance of who they were, where they came from, their importance and african society, how they departed their homeland, the circumstances in which they lived here, and their legal status. that brought me to four conclusions, globalization, colonization, integration, and propagation.
let's first talk about globalization. did you know why european nations felt that they had ownership over africa and south america and other parts of the world? spain and portugal were on the same iberian peninsula, and like family, did not get along. they were exploring around the world and kept bumping into each other. they were going to go to war and the pope knew that would be a disaster, so he divided the world and a half. he said to spain, you have west portugal you have east. many people would say how is that possible, because brazil is in the west. the reality is, it depends on how the pope divided the world up. that's why portugal, during the
early period of the colonial era, believed that it owned africa, and everything there including the people. and it began to colonize. that brings us now to colonization. colonization is when you establish control over indigenous people. in 14 93, a year after columbus and 1492 and he sailed the ocean blue, they found the kingdom of congo and and go lap. very different than what we learned in the history books, he said it was such an advanced civilization. they had a form of government. they were very sophisticated. they had very sophisticated
languages, which i happen to find interesting. to learn they had a very developed language, they not only did they have a language and a religion, the portuguese and the angolans in particular had such a strong trading and international relationship that many of the royal suspect sons were educated in spain, portugal, and in rome. how do we know that? it's in the colonial records. but something happened, and obviously, i am truncating this, but something happened. despite the good, long, strong relationship, when they found silver underneath the royal
city, yes, you named it, they were determined to take control. in the fall of 1618, they sent 36 ships loaded with sailors and are meant to take control. in january and february of 1619, the royal africans were beaten. 4000 were captured, approximately. whatever you try to take over a government, obviously, take the most educated, the landowners, those of prestige, those are the ones who were captured. the last ship to arrive was the first ship to leave, and that was the san on bautista. because was the first to leave, it had the most of the royals on it.
while they were placed on 36 slave ships, it's important to understand, 350 left on the san juan bautista. but that ship was pirated by two english ships, illegally pirated, by two english ships that almost led england and spain back into a war that no one wanted. this is what the san juan bautista looks like. . this is a replica. look at how small the ship is. originally, 350 captured angolans were on this ship headed to new spain that's present day mexico. the ship was built in japan, but that is a another story you will find in the book.
they had the characteristics of the ban to people that we know today they were royal subjects and came from the upper ranks and they were catholics because within the 200 period that they had the relationship with portugal, they converted an entire population to cathal a system. as a result of that, they had the names of patron saints. catholic patron saints. if a when the angolans were taken from the royal city, they were enslaved. . when they were placed on the san juan bautista they were slaves. and they were destined to be slaves when they reached new spain. but those that came to the colony of virginia, that would not be their destiny.
i will share with you how we know that. when the white line in and the treasure attacked the san juan bautista, they thought there was gold and silver on it. they certainly were not going to release them at that point in time. they were looking for gold and silver. for two hours they battled, and in the two hour battle, they boarded the san juan bautista hand realized that there was nothing more than enslaved men, women, and children on it. they searched the entire ship. they ripped it apart board by board, because they just knew there was gold on the ship and that would not be the case. one of the reasons they thought gold was on the ship because it was a very elaborate looking
ship, because the ship belonged to the emperor of japan and sailed around the world debating whether he wanted his country to become a christian company, country, decided not and then sold the ship to spain. it wasn't just the one ship. it was quite elaborate, as you saw in the picture. the english pirates, when they attacked the san juan bautista, they created such an international crisis that it created specific problems for the two captains, because king james conducted a pretty council inquiry. when the end goal in's came to virginia on august 25th, 1619, virginia is not what we think of it today, when they arrived at port comfort. when they arrived at point
comfort, the first ship, the white line, they knew, those two captains, they were now in trouble. when the white line arrived, he was told there is a warrant out for the arrest of the captain, who was the second captain to arrive for days later on board the treasurer and that the ship was to be seized. that's how serious an inquiry he had. the white line, they sold the 29 angolans who are on board. once they arrived, they became just like the port british indentured servants, and they had no contracts. the settlement of jamestown, founded in 1607, on a
peninsula. the colony was owned by the virginia company of london. the habitants where the employees of the virginia company. the first 20 years was an absolute failure. there was high atrocities by the local population, famine. most came from the peasant class of england. they were poor, an educated. many were orphaned or homeless and many had community prison sentences. but they worked for the virginia company as indentured servants. the survival here in virginia was very much like the tv show we see today, survivor. no matter how hard they work, they didn't have the skills necessary for survival, because
they didn't have the basic skills of agriculture, farming, or animal husbandry. particularly, as we look at undeveloped countries today, particular those in a semi tropical climate, that's what they came to when they came here. you've got to ask how do we know this. there was one book in particular listing versus of quality. this book is interesting. i like the title. original list of persons of quality. it leads you to believe that everyone who came here, and most virginians who have ancestors that came from that time period, believe they came here because they were people of quality, but if you look at the second heading, there were immigrants, exiles, political rebels, serving the period of time, and others who went from
great britain to the american plantations. that's who is here. it is a social history of forced emigrations of felons, destitute children, religious non-conformance, vagabonds, beggars, other undesirables. every man, woman, and child who came here from england was put on a ships registrar manifest, and that's how we know who these folks are. when it comes to angolans, some historians profess that they were not christian. we don't know their names, that they were slaves, and that they arrive with no skills. we had that belief because there is an actual document that someone kind of conforms to that, and the document came out of the ferrari papers. in this is the virginia
sentence of 1620, which would have been just a couple of months after the first angolans came here. what you will notice here, you see it says non-christians, in the service of the english. those of you who understand religion, they came from a catholic environment. the english colony was a protestant colony of paul -- with respect to the religion of england and those of africa. he made the leading and goal and catholics in the country and actual archbishop. if you notice, the number was 32. even though he wrote in his notes 20 and odd, that was a cover-up for the crime that had been committed, but when the
census was taken, it was 32. how do we know that he is not correct? we can tell by the number of people who got off the ship. some historians, we don't know their names. that's another false narrative because in the 1623 census, as you see, the list of the living misses a year after the great massacre. in this list here, you will see the beginning of some of the names being listed. you will notice, many of these names have spanish names or had recently been converted from spanish names to english sounding names. what happened was they were distributed to all the colonies and integrated within the colony. some professed that they were slaves. someone not too long ago made the statement that the first
africans, their skin was black and dirty and representative evil, so they had to be slaves. i will show you that that wasn't necessarily the case. in the 1625 muster, you have these ship captains. these captains were salty old man. they traveled all over the world. they were captains. they knew wouldn't enslaved person was and what an enslaved person wasn't. the head of each of these plantations or developments of settlements was headed up by a captain. they gave their districts these fancy names, and you can see the names of the plantations and the areas in which these angolans lived. but the sea captains, who were worldly man, but they did in the same muster is they listed
their legal status. they didn't list the man as slaves. they listed them as servants. in 1624, 16 to 25, we hear people say slavery started all the way to the beginning, and that's not what the legal documents, not with the colonial records was showing. the same records are in england and virginia. >> those of you who work in government, who work in the private sector, you know y2k essays are. for those of you who have not worked in those jobs but you have heard the expression ksas, you know that that is knowledge, skills, and abilities. cn knowledge, scale, and abilities, because they were farmers, merchants. they were cattleman. they raised crops. they traded crops.
how do we know this? in the original list of persons of quality, there is just so much information in these colonial records that no one knew they were there or chose not to share it, and we have with immigrants and religious exiles, it also shows the ships these people came on. i will show you. this is the cover, and to the right is a page, one page out of this. and this one page, you will see the servants that are listed at the muster of captain william pierce, one of the most wealthy man. thomas smith is a servant.
a maid servant came on the abigail. lo and behold, angela, oh whose name is angela and changed to andrew low, is on the treasurer. the angolans who came on the san juan bautista, they are legal status we find throughout those early colonial records. we do not find them as enslaved. indentured servants are no different than the english. but as they come out of their indenture, what's even more interesting is we find where they have the ability to own their own animals and a slave person cannot do that. they were able to indenture their own children for
protection and a slave could not do that. they entered into contracts. they leased land and a slave person could not do that. i will share with you some of these angolans and start to talk a bit fast, because my time is running out. there were two in particular you will see it listed there. he and his wife became a head right, for every had you bring over you get 50 acres of land, and listed here. he and his wife were listed as head rights. lo and behold, they came on the treasure. the treasure was not allowed to land. they went to bermuda because the privy council investigation brought them back on different ships. mary came back on the margaret
and john and 1622, in times of the census. lo and behold, this man who in his lifetime was captured as an enslaved and destined to be enslaved for the rest of his life, he bought 250 acres of land in north hampton county and 1651 on page 36. he transported for englishman and his son richard from another county, and that enabled him, five people in total, times 50, 250 acres of land. he was a catholic martyr to. we are all probably pretty familiar. this catholic martyr was named juan pedro. they believed he was an actual catholic priest over and angola because he was one of the highest ranking catholics in the colony. when they had the great battle, he was the second person to be
killed. where do we find him? right there on the 16 24, 16 25 muster. by 11th great-grandfather, how i stumbled upon the story of 1618, as i am following up on the information of the man who came on the treasurer. his name was spelled different in the next document will show that he is actually on the -- of captain william. margaret cornish, his wife, is right there on the 1623 census, and there is my 11th great grandmother. they said we didn't know the name from research and i and others have been able to get to
the angolans, and we know who they are for the original colonial records, and there were so few africans in the colonies, up until the 1600 forties and the 1600 fifties, when it surfaced based on the relationships and where they came from and the captains were able to determine who they were. i just did something wrong here. i apologize for that. now, when i did my research, i had judicial rulings, personal statements, deeds and orders in the state court papers. and again, all in these documents right here. but you know, those originally angolans because they were smart people who could read and write and understood the tenants of religion and we're so sophisticated that the next
generation, they began to strip away the rights. one of the things that they did is, you know, many people want to the black community, is such a matriarchal society because in 16 62, the laws would change for the child with the status of the mother. and after the rebellion, there was a legacy that was left behind, and that legacy was integration. and those of you who -- know is a multi racial rebellion, i was multiracial because the africans and the native americans and the english we're all into marrying with each other. and we go back to those original a colonies or counties within virginia, a german wrote a book about white slaves and i think the title is a little too narrow. but what he did was, he was able to find between 16 16 and 1721, more than 5000 white children were kidnapped and taken to virginia.
and those same individuals were the ones that intermarriage with those angolans. and from bacon's rebellion, we got this 1705 slave clothes and found those slave codes, they were the foundation of the slavery and jim crow laws. and those slave coats, if you were to look at them, those slave coats, they actually mirror the accomplishments of the first and goal into came here. so you can look at anthony johnson and every accomplishment that he made, it was flipped into an actual code, so no other african could benefit the way that anthony did. my ancestor and his wife separated and based on my research, he became the first man in the virginia colony to sue for custody of his son. as found in the english records. mark -- years later, appears to be the
first woman ever to purchase her own land. now, women got their land from that that serve their husbands, they inherited it or they got it from their sons but margaret appears, based on the records to be the first to actually purchased her homeland. and with those successes, they turn them around to make sure that no other african would be able to do that. so propagation came as a result of the english and the angolans intermarrying one another and those 20 africans and other colonial africans actually became 900 separate individual free african american families for the least 17 hundreds. and if you look at this list here, you'll begin to see all of the original names that came out of those first documented
angolans in 60 19. these are their descended names and again, most of this is through interracial relationships. now, some of you will know, somebody will ask usually all the time, your paperwork says this but how do we know this is true? when i did all of my research in the early eighties through the early nineties, that was before the internet. that was before all this new technology and i have been asked by several of my publishers, you should take a dna test because we need to make sure that your dna follows your narrative. and lo and behold, my dna, i have them to dna, and not only do have been to dna, my dna
goes to the specific area have costa, angola where margaret cornish and john came from. so my dna takes me directly to john and margaret. whether you look at the, when we look at, it's been idolized in overanalyze goes right back to the paper trail as everyone thought that it would. it was more important, the legacy that these angolans left behind, i don't know if you know that there are 44 million americans of african descent in the united states today. 70% of us are related to one another and not only are 70% of each other related to another, or beginning to figure out that 20 to 40 million americans of european descent also have african dna, which makes sense because again, because of
integration population. so with that, i think my time came right to the moment. so in writing the book, the first africans to arrive in virginia, i wanted to make sure that i talk about the historical significance on who with a were, why did they come from, the importance and the african society in terms of being royals and their skills and abilities. there are circumstances in which they left and they left for no other reason that the portuguese found silver under their land so when you hear people say 60 19, it is a fake made-up story, it was african something other africans, that was not the case. and the legal status, their legal status once they came here. i want to thank you all for the kind invitation and i hope we
have a lot of good questions. if you want to find out more, you can go to my website. i'm on facebook, i'm on youtube, among twitter although i have not done any tweeting for the last three or four years, so i will get back to that shortly and with that, any questions that you have, i hope i can answer them. >> thank you. great presentation. for those of you on facebook and youtube, please feel free to add some questions, we've got a few minutes for rick. so one question i want to start off with is being a native virginian, you are objective in this search and telling the story, what was the biggest discovery or surprise to you as a non virginian historian?
>> as a non virginian, again, as i started to do the records, i really had no idea where i was going. i literally was just going from one patent to another one and fortunately, they had laid out elevated for a should. so when i went to the county and -- to original land pan, i was pretty impressed with that. and i was also impressed that he had the signature of -- i must admit, my family in new england, and we own land coming back to the 1700s as well so i guess i wasn't blown away with that, other than. but when i saw that we sold line in virginia and i started to research virginia, i'm getting into the mid-16
hundreds and all of a sudden, i realized, 16 35 i find john with this legal dispute that his wife margaret and then i find out that he's one of the original. that blew me away. that was something that i had been looking for, i would have never found it, somebody told me about it, i wouldn't be able to make the connection. that blew me away for weeks. >> so someone asks, what happened to the africans who didn't come to virginia outside of the 32 angolans that you spoke of? >> when the ship left angola, and within one weeks time, over 100 men and women and children had died. they were not cut out for this. there were not hard and people. the captains stopped and america, he needed to get food
he, need to wash down the ship. to get the food and the medicine he needed, he left behind 24 young boys has evidence in his ships manifest. the remainder 147 eventually arrived in veracruz, new mexico, and they went bankrupt and the captain of the ship was kept a no kahuna, and he went back to spring, he talked to his cousin, his cousin was count -- who was also the ambassador to england. he was the ambassador to change aims, and that's why kim conducted the investigation and that's why he became at such a big deal because he was trying to recoup the funds that his funds this cousin are going bankrupt over. so now you hundred 45 and arrived at veracruz in spain. what's interesting is some of the people today who were doing dna are finding distant
relatives and parts of brazil and in mexico and jamaica as well. . >> another listener has asked, why did the first time cohen's who had been royals worked with the english to get back? >> probably the same reason that the english presents who came here couldn't work with the english to go back home. the ships were not leaving here to go take people back and when the ships left here, they were taken barrels of tobacco back to england. some of the children who were kidnapped, based on some of the colonial records, they kidnapped the wrong kids and their family had the funds and the resources to come and get them but the reality is no one
went back to their home and you're only dealing with 32 angolans when you're dealing with thousands and thousands of english presents when they didn't get back home either. >> one of the vessels that you spoke about, the treasure was apparently have owned by samuel argo, a former admiral and governor of virginia, was he charged by the king for his piracy? >> he was a partial owner, he was a minor stakeholder. the real person who owned it mercer robert of war work, he was like aristotle, he owned a large fleet of ships, yes he was charged, there were a number of lawsuits and the only reason he got away is because the governor died in 16 25, --
and the count died in 16 27 so the three major principles who were going to go after him each died in three consecutive years. i'm king james to hide and 16 25 as well and his son charles took over. so the principles in this investigation, i bet it was a pretty serious investigation because if you recall, sir reilly in 16 18 was beheaded for power sea of spanish hips. >> have family that you mentioned when you were doing your junior logical research that one of your predecessors had in early custody case with their son, do you know how that turned out? >> he has, he won the case. and that's why i found out so much information about john was because of the custody case and
i didn't initially know who his son and the grandson was, which made that last connection but i happened to come in within one of the books and found the name and that was the family name and once i found the name, then i made the connection for the three generations to -- that i had all these edwards, and they kept leaving land to my son edward and then that's how i made the connection. because the grandson william lifeline to their son edward, who was edward -- the first. >> so what's next for you? what projects are you looking on for the future? >> i'm actually doing a biography of margaret and john, i'm writing about another family out of noble,
massachusetts, they were involved in a revolutionary war. they had 100 acres of land and because in small parts, the air of the land gave a man for perpetual care of his children. three girls, because he was afraid that would he be sold into prostitution it's, a phenomenal story because they were absolutely war heroes. they were part of the three marvin boys, says mourners group and they were prisoners of war for 18 months and half of them prisoners have died and they succeeded. so that's the book. and i'm also going to write about the legacy of the first angolans because of all the discussions today about 60 19 and 400 years, i think it's really important that people will understand the legacy of these first angolans and how their successes were actually turned into the slave codes, which became antebellum slavery
richard shows he was an interpreter of african american history at colonial williamsburg, portraying several characters including a runaway slave named peter. up next, he discusses why it's important to tell history from the african-american perspective and talks about the emotional toll of portraying historical characters. thomas jefferson's monte carlo provided this video. >> all right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to mount to tell -- livestream today. today, we have with us richard shows he, who is the founder and principal consultant for collected journeys and