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Enslaved Africans taken to Virginia in 1619

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 13:10
Dennis Herrick

Traditionalist histories claim that slavery started in what is now the United States on or about August 20, 1619, when a British ship appeared in Chesapeake Bay and traded for food "20 and odd" Africans seized from a Portuguese slave ship.
      The White Lion, a British-owned privateer operating under a Dutch flag, "sold" the Angolans to planters of Viriginia's earliest tobacco fields at what is now Hampton, Virginia, less than forty miles from the Jamestown settllement.

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Did "political correctness" relegate Esteban to a background role in Cabeza de Vaca's account?

Sat, 06/01/2019 - 19:08
Dennis Herrick

A friend proposed that Cabeza de Vaca deliberately kept Esteban in the background in his 1542 book, possibly even with Esteban's knowledge.
      Cabeza de Vaca never mentioned Esteban in the first half of his account about the Narváez invasion of Florida. During their cross-continent trek, Cabeza de Vaca referred to the African slave sporadically by name but usually by simply labeling Esteban as El Negro. He  even credited some of Esteban's achievements to others.

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Outrageously inaccurate Mexican movie of 1990

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 20:05
Dennis Herrick

An absurd movie was released in Mexico in 1990 titled "Cabeza de Vaca." A relatively unknown actor, Gerardo Villarreal, played the part of Estevanico (Esteban).  The movie hero-worships Cabeza de Vaca, and the movie doesn't even try to follow the historical record, although it's supposedly based on Cabea de Vaca's chronicle of 1542 and is advertised as "true and amazing adventures." The movie is built primarily on dramatic accounts of events that never occurred.

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First African slave revolt in the New World

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 11:51
Dennis Herrick

The Wolofs, kidnapped from their home in West Africa, led the first African slave revolt against Spanish rule in the Caribbean. Sources seem fairly evenly divided between 1521 and 1522 for the start of the revolt. I went with the more conservative estimate of 1522 in the book on page 31. In either case, it would have been only a few years before Esteban arrived on Hispaniola, so as a slave himself he was bound to hear about the island's slave unrest.

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