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African Americans and Native Americans, free or enslaved, were generally treated as a single group in colonial Connecticut. The acts of legislation were frequently amended and revised.

The colony of Connecticut declared that African Americans and Native Americans were exempt from serving in the military. Native Americans had been enslaved following the Pequot War in the 1630s.

A colonial survey of Connecticut, answering questions posed by England, estimates that there were fewer than 30 slaves in Connecticut, with 3 or 4 being imported annually from Barbados and sold for £22 each. Two African Americans were known to have been baptized.

Killing a slave is declared a capital offense in New England.

The colony of Connecticut limits Native Americans’ and African Americans’ travel beyond town borders.

African Americans, along with minors, apprentices and servants, are prohibited from drinking in taverns or inns without permission from their parents or masters.

The colony declares that former slave owners are financially responsible for any slaves they free.

African Americans are prohibited from owning land in Connecticut, but this law was not enforced. In the 18th century, the enslaved were regarded as “property” for purposes of voting, and property and estate taxes; but regarded as “persons” in court with the right to make contracts, to bring suit, to trial by jury, etc.

The colony passes an act to prevent the “Disorder of Negro and Indian Servants and Slaves in the Night Season,” establishing a curfew of 9 p.m. Violation of the curfew is punishable with a whipping for the servant and a fine for his master.

Slaves convicted of slander are to be whipped; the law also stipulates that accused slaves are to be given the same opportunities to defend themselves as anyone else.

Connecticut estimates its population to include 700 “Indian and negro slaves” and 1,600 Native Americans total.

A colonial survey of Connecticut estimates a population of 1,000 African Americans and 500 Native Americans; in 1756 the colony’s Governor acknowledged that this number was too low, and estimated the population of African Americans to be 3,587; the Governor’s figures do not correspond to the census figures for 1756.

A comprehensive act “concerning Indian, Molatto and Negro Servants, and Slaves” is passed. It restates several earlier laws: travel beyond town boundaries is prohibited without a pass for free and enslaved Negroes; violating the 9 p.m. curfew is punishable with a whipping; the last owner of a freed slave and the last employer of a servant are financially responsible for that person for life; the importation of Indians into Connecticut is banned.

The census records enumerate 3,019 African Americans and 617 Native Americans living in Connecticut; it does not distinguish between free and enslaved. There were 27 African Americans and no Native Americans in Waterbury.

The colony estimates a population of approximately 4,590 African Americans and 930 Native Americans.

The importation of “Indian, Negro or Mulatto Slaves” to Connecticut is banned.

The total number of African Americans in Connecticut is 5,085. The colony’s census did not distinguish free from enslaved. There were 34 African Americans and 4 Native Americans in Waterbury.

Roughly half of all ministers, lawyers, and public officials in Connecticut own slaves, and a third of all doctors.

The “Gradual Emancipation Act” declares that the children of enslaved African Americans born after March 1, 1784 were to be granted freedom upon reaching the age of 25.

State legislation outlaws the slave trade in Connecticut, prohibiting the import of Africans and the export of African Americans for sale, and requires every slave owner to register the births of every child born into slavery in their household with their town clerks.

Connecticut ratifies the United States Constitution

African American population in Connecticut numbers 2,759 enslaved and 2,801 free. Waterbury has 10 enslaved and 14 free.

Connecticut’s first abolitionist society, the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom and the Relief of Persons Unlawfully Held in Bondage, is formed. Waterbury’s slave-owning Rev. Mark Leavenworth was a founding member.

The transportation of slaves to other states for the purpose of selling them is banned.

The Gradual Emancipation act is modified so that any “Negro or Mulatto Child” born in Connecticut after August 1, 1797 will be freed on his or her 21st birthday.

The laws enacted in 1750 concerning restricted travel, a 9 p.m. curfew, and unusually harsh punishments for theft are repealed.

Census records show 951 African Americans enslaved in Connecticut. There are 7 people enslaved in Waterbury.

Census records show 310 African Americans enslaved in Connecticut. There is only one person enslaved in Waterbury; this is the last year that the census records show anyone enslaved in Waterbury.

Connecticut’s new constitution specifically denies the right to vote to African American population

Census records show 97 African Americans enslaved in Connecticut.

The Amistad trial takes place. The Africans from the schooner were held prisoner in Connecticut until the U.S. Supreme court finally declared them to be free, and they returned to Africa.

Census records show 17 African Americans enslaved in Connecticut

Slavery is outlawed in Connecticut.


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Bill of Sale of Peter, 1762
Cover. Collection of the Mattatuck Museum.

Enlarge this image
Bill of Sale of Peter, 1762
Peter was sold by James Kasson to Edward Hinman, both residents of Woodbury, Connecticut. Collection of the Mattatuck Museum.

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