Tuesday, May 18, 2010

358 Years Ago Today, First US Anti-Slavery Law Passed


On May 18, 1652 Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal. It was not effectively enforced. At the time of the American Revolution, 6.3% of the states population was held in bondage.
In February 1784 the Rhode Island Legislature passed a compromise measure for gradual emancipation of slaves within Rhode Island. All children of slaves born after March 1 were to be "apprentices," the girls to become free at 18, the boys at 21. By 1840, the census reported only five African Americans enslaved in Rhode Island.