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Indians and Mayans made into Negroes for Profit and Land

Documentation over Conversation

Indian Will Sues For His Freedom :

The stories of the enslaved, both African and Indigenous to the Americas are intricately bound together.

In 1747, "Indian Will" is identified as an enslaved man "belonging to the estate of George Nicholas Turner." That year, he sued for his freedom in Virginia and this document reveals that he had “a right property of freedom” because he was born to a free Native woman, and Virginia’s law “is entirely against free born Indians to be made slaves.”

While Will is identified as Indian and son of a free Indian woman in the previous document, in another document created in 1745, he is identified as as a "Negro man" listed in the Estate Inventory for George Nicholas Turner and distributed to his son.

     Like other property, real or personal, Indian slaves could be given away by word of mouth or by “last will and testament”. One of the earliest of such wills on record is that of Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts, made in 1639, by which he gave to his son Adam, Governor’s Island and with it “also my Indians thereon”.6 In South Carolina 1 Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, series 3, i, p. 27, contains a bill of sale of an Indian man, given by Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts to John Mainford of Barbadoes.

     2 As typical examples of this kind of advertisement, see Boston Gazette, December 15, 1718; Pennsylvania Gazette, March 7, 1732; New England Weekly Journal, March 5, 1733; Boston News Letter, August 20, 1711; January 5, 1719; December 28, 1720.

     3 Boston News Letter, July 2, 1711; October 11, 1708; October 6, 1737; February 11, 1717; November 22, 1708; May 24, 1714; Boston Gazette or Weekly Journal, November 15, 1748; New England Weekly Journal, February 24, 1729.

     4 Stiles, A History of the City of Brooklyn, etc., i, p. 233; New York Mercury, June 12, 1758.

     5 Early Records of Portsmouth, p. 434; Currier, History of Newbury, p. 254.

     6 Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop, ii, p. 252; Winsor, The Memorial History of Boston, i, p. 489.


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