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 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.