March 8th - On this day, in 1654, John Casor becomes the first person of African descent in Britain’s Thirteen Colonies to be declared by the county court a slave for life.
At this time, there were only about 300 persons of African origin living in the Virginia Colony, about 1% of an estimated 30,000 population. The first small group came to Jamestown in 1619 as indentured servants. Though there was no official provision in the colony at this time to naturalize foreigners, people of African descent were still considered outsiders, despite the fact that they came with the white settlers to the ‘new world’.
John Casor was a servant to a ‘free negro’ Anthony Johnson, who took him to court after Casor demanded his freedom, claiming that he’d earnt his freedom by serving Johnson for eight years. Casor lost the case and on March 8th 1654, he was recognised by the court as a slave for life. He worked for Johnson until his death.