Slavery and the Making of America: Ep. 1/4 The Downward Spiral (2005 02) PBS
SLAVERY AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA is a four-part series documenting the history of American slavery from its beginnings in the British colonies to its end in the Southern states and the years of post-Civil War Reconstruction. Drawing on a wealth of recent scholarship, it looks at slavery as an integral part of a developing nation, challenging the long held notion that slavery was exclusively a Southern enterprise. At the same time, by focusing on the remarkable stories of individual slaves, it offers new perspectives on the slave experience and testifies to the active role that Africans and African Americans took in surviving their bondage and shaping their own lives.
Episode 1: The Downward Spiral
Episode one opens in the 1620s with the introduction of 11 men of African descent and mixed ethnicity into slavery in New Amsterdam. Working side by side with white indentured servants, these men labored to lay the foundations of the Dutch colony that would later become New York.
There were no laws defining the limitations imposed on slaves at this point in time. Enslaved people, such as Anthony d'Angola, Emmanuel Driggus, and Frances Driggus could bring suits to court, earn wages, and marry. But in the span of a hundred years, everything changed.
By the early 18th century, the trade of African slaves in America was expanding to accommodate an agricultural economy growing in the hands of ambitious planters. After the 1731 Stono Rebellion (a violent uprising led by a slave named Jemmy) many colonies adopted strict "black codes" transforming the social system into one of legal racial oppression.
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