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Blacks in Early Massachusetts Portal

This Portal project focuses on Blacks in Massachusetts from the earliest period up to the American Revolution. See other Geni projects on specific areas, periods, and events in Colonial Massachusetts.


"An early muster roll from the Plymouth Colony in New England, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620, shows that at least one African, " blackamoor" (the old English term for a dark-skinned African), was present in the community by the early 1630s and was serving in the militia.

The journal of John Winthrop, governor of the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony (founded in 1630), makes clear that in 1638, not long after the English defeat of the neighboring Pequot Indians, a Boston sea captain carried Native American captives to the West Indies and brought back "salt, cotton, tobacco, and Negroes."

Six years later, in 1644, Boston merchants sent several ships directly to the West African coast, a small beginning to a pattern of New England slave trading that would continue for a century and a half...."infidel" Pequots who opposed Winthrop's men in New England were sold into bondage in the Caribbean. " (Strange New Land, p. 37).


  • Strange New Land: African Americans, 1617-1776 by Peter H. Wood.