1520 and the Slave Trade to the Americas
Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the 1619 commemorations is that few people realize that the earliest known slaving voyages to sail directly from Africa to the Americas actually landed 500 years ago in Puerto Rico, which eventually became and incorporated territory of the United States.
The ship Santa María de la Luz embarked captive Africans in “Portuguese Guinea” (most probably in Arguin, today’s Mauritania) and disembarked these captives on November 15, 1520, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Of course, this shows the connections between the Spanish conquest and colonization of the Americas and the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade.
Join us for a conversation with Prof. David Wheat and Prof. Sabrina Smith on the early history of slave trading and slavery in the Caribbean and Mexico.
David Wheat is Associate Professor of History, whose book Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean (2016) won the James A. Rawley Prize of the American Historical Association, and the Harriet Tubman Book Prize of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery.
Sabrina Smith is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Merced and the author of “Slave Trading in Antequera and Interregional Slave Traffic in New Spain, 1680–1710” in the edited volume From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas (2020) edited by Alex Borucki, David Eltis, and David Wheat.