Marking beginning of slavery

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor 

The bell rang at the Isle of Wight County courthouse Sunday for four minutes to commemorate the first arrival of Africans to colonial America in 1619. 

Four individuals rang the bell for one minute to highlight one hundred years each, for a total of 400 years. 

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The Isle of Wight event coincided with a four-day commemoration at Fort Monroe, once known as Point Comfort, where the first 20 Africans from Angola arrived on a Dutch ship. Those Africans were then forcibly scattered as involuntary laborers among the plantations that dotted the James River at the time, according to Isle of Wight County Museum Curator Tracey Neikirk.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The year marks the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States. 

The year 1619 was also notable for several other reasons. It was  the first year that tobacco grown in the new colony was shipped to England as a commodity. It was also the first year that the first representative assembly met in Jamestown, which had been settled in 1607. 

It was the year that active recruitment of European women as wives began for the new colony, the first thanksgiving was held at the newly established Berkeley Plantation and Christopher Lawne arrived in Isle of Wight to establish his own plantation, according to Niekirk. 

The plantation didn’t succeed, but Lawnes Creek was named in his honor, said Niekirk. 

Isle of Wight, once home to the Warraskoyack Indians, was named for Sir Richard Worsley of Isle of Wight, England. Worsley was the principal investor of Lawnes Plantation. 

Ringing the bell Sunday was Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson, Lanny Hinson with Historic Smithfield and the 1750 Courthouse, Andrew Barker with the Southern and Central Isle of Wight County Citizens’ Group and Lisa Meunier, president of the Isle of Wight Citizens’ Association.  {/mprestriction}