The origins and development of the African slave trade into Texas, 1816-1860



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Between 1816 and 1860 approximately three thousand African slaves entered Texas illegally. Prior to the start of Anglo-American colonization of Texas in 1821, pirates and smugglers used Texas as a base for transferring the Africans into the United States. After the beginning of American colonization some of the colonists imported Africans for their own use in Texas. When Texas became the twenty-eighth stale in 1845, Texans continued to import Africans illegally into the state. During the 1850's efforts were made by Southerners, including some Texans, to reopen the legal African slave trade. But these efforts fell short of their intended goal. With the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in America, the African slave trade finally ended. During the entire period of the African slave trade into Texas, between 1816 and 1860, laws prohibited this form of commerce. The laws of Mexico, the Republic, and the United States expressly banned the importation of African slaves into Texas. Even so, the need for cheap labor and the profits of this trade motivated men to participate in the external slave trade. Once Anglo-American colonization of Texas began, slave ships frequently appeared along the Texas coast between Corpus Christi and Sabine Pass. Most of the African slaves brought to Texas were landed in the vacinity of Galveston Island and the neighboring rivers that emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. The History of the illegal African slave trade into Texas can be gathered from the diaries of participants, personal letters, public documents as well as newspaper accounts of this activity. During the years of the Republic, several foreign observers wrote of the illegal African slave trade that existed in Texas at that time. But the persistence of this trade in Texas until 1860 demonstrated the thinking of the white population toward the African slaves. Thus, in most of the accounts of the illegal African slave trade into Texas, the authors either laud the benefits of such trade, or condemn the idea of slave trading and the people who participated in that traffic. In essence, the African slave trade into Texas reflected the thinking of the people of Texas. The African slave trade also marked the beginnings for Blacks in Texas. The history of these first Blacks in Texas has long been overshadowed by other events of Texas history.



History, Texas, Nineteenth century, Transatlantic slave trade, Slave trade, African Americans