In the earliest days of the colonies, the first black Africans imported were indentured, achieving their freedom by fulfilling a term of service, or by converting to Christianity. At this stage, captured Indians were more likely to be enslaved. Charles Town in the Province of Carolina was founded in 1670 by a group of planters from Barbados who brought African slaves with them. As plantation cultivation of tobacco, rice and indigo rapidly expanded so did the importation of slaves. By 1770, c. 270,000 had been imported, giving rise to a black population of c. 450,000, over 20 per cent of the total population. But the incidence of slave-holding varied widely. In New England, it was prohibited except under specific circumstances (captives of war for instance) and slaves constituted around 1 per cent of the population. In Virginia and the Carolinas, the proportion exceeded 40 per cent, while around a third of the population of Georgia and Maryland were enslaved.
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