Slavery in the United States facts for kids
The history of slavery in the United States began soon after Europeans first settled in what became the United States. All slaves were freed by 1865 during the Civil War, most by Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation but finally and completely by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
From about the 1640s until 1865, people of African descent were legally enslaved within the boundaries of the present United States by whites and also by Indians and free blacks. Some Indians were also held as slaves.
About 585,000 slaves were imported into the U.S., or 5% of the 12 million slaves brought across from Africa. The great majority went to sugar colonies in the Caribbean and to Brazil, where life expectancy was short and the numbers had to be continually replenished. Life expectancy was much higher in the U.S. (because of better food, less disease, lighter work loads, and better medical care) so the numbers grew rapidly by excesses of births over deaths, reaching 4 million by the 1860 Census. From 1770 until 1860, the rate of natural growth of North American slaves was much greater than for the population of any nation in Europe, and was nearly twice as rapid as that of England.
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