Anthony Johnson (colonist)
Anthony Johnson was an Angolan held as an indentured servant by a merchant in the Colony of Virginia in 1620, but later freed to become a successful tobacco farmer and property owner. Notably, he was the first to hold a black African servant as a slave in the mainland American colonies. Upon his death in 1670, a court ruled that he was "a negro and by consequence, an alien", and the colony seized his land.
 Early life
Johnson was captured by slave traders in his native Angola and sold as a slave to a merchant working for the Virginia Company. He arrived in Virginia in 1621 aboard the James. At this time he was known in the records as "Antonio, a Negro". Johnson was later sold to a white planter named Bennet to work on his Virginia tobacco farm as an indentured servant.
He almost lost his life in the Indian massacre of 1622 when his master's farm was attacked. The Powhatans, who were native to Virginia, were upset at the advance of the tobacco planters into their land and planned an attack on Good Friday. Of the fifty-seven men on the farm where Johnson worked, fifty-two died during the attack. In 1622, 30 Native Americans attacked Jamestown to avenge the death of one of their leaders.
The following year (1623) "Mary, a Negro" arrived aboard the ship Margaret and was brought in to work on the plantation, where she was the only woman. They were married and lived together for over forty years.
Prior to 1654, all Africans in the thirteen Colonies were held in indentured servitude and were released after a contracted period with many of the indentured receiving land and equipment after their contracts for work expired. Johnson would later take ownership of a large plot of farmland after the expiry of his contract.
By around 1635 Antonio and Mary were free, and Antonio changed his name to Anthony Johnson. In the late 1640s he moved to the Pungoteague River in Northampton County, Virginia where he acquired 250 acres (100 ha) of land on the eastern shore.
By July 1651 Johnson had five indentured servants of his own and he claimed an additional 250 acres (100 ha) of land based on the headright system. He is recognized in Virginia court documents when he pled for tax relief in 1653 after a fire destroyed much of his plantation, and in a case brought in 1654 in which he contested the freedom suit of a servant, John Casor. Johnson won the suit and retained Casor as his servant for life. The case effectively made Casor the first true slave in Virginia. In the tax-relief case, the justices noted that Anthony and Mary "have lived Inhabitants in Virginia (above thirty years)" and had been respected for their "hard labor and known service".
In 1657, Johnson’s white neighbor, Edmund Scarborough, forged a letter in which Johnson acknowledged a debt. Even though Johnson was clearly illiterate and couldn’t have written the letter, the court granted Scarborough 100 acres of Johnson’s land to pay off his "debt".
In 1665, Anthony Johnson and his family moved to Somerset County, Maryland, and negotiated a lease on a 300-acre (120 ha) plot of land for ninety-nine years. Johnson used this land to start a tobacco farm, which he named Tories Vineyards.
 "Not a citizen"
After Johnson’s death in 1670, a court ruling set a precedent that would be an important factor in determining the social status of freed black men in the colonies. A white Virginian planter was allowed to seize Johnson’s land because a ruling by a local court that said, "as a black man, Anthony Johnson was not a citizen of the colony." 
Johnson’s children were only able to hold on to enough land to become independent farmers.
The remaining forty acres of Johnson’s original property were inherited by his grandson, John Johnson Jr. He named the farm Angola, as a tribute to his grandfather's birth country. However, after an inability to pay taxes he lost the land. He died in 1721.
Slavery was unofficially established in Virginia in 1655, when Johnson convinced a court that his servant John Casor (also a black man), was his for life. Johnson himself had been brought to Virginia some years earlier as an indentured servant but he had saved enough money to buy out the remainder of his contract and that of his wife. The court ruling in Johnson’s favor resulted in Casor becoming the first state-recognized slave in the Colony of Virginia. Slavery in Virginia was officially enacted in state law in 1661.
Typically, young men or women would sign a contract of indenture in exchange for transportation to the New World. The landowner received 50 acres of land from the state (headrights) for each servant purchased (around £6 per person in the 17th Century) from a ships captain. The status of indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland was similar to slavery. Servants could be bought, sold, or leased. They could be physically beaten for disobedience or running away. Unlike slaves they were freed after their term of service expired or was bought out, their children did not inherit their status, and on their release from contract they received "a year's provision of corn, double apparel, tools necessary" and a small cash payment called "freedom dues."—John Hammond Indentured Servitude. Johnson himself had arrived in Virginia as an indentured servant.
The practice of importing Africans to the North American colonies started in the Virginia area in 1619, though slavery in the Spanish New World colonies brought African slaves to the Americas as early as the 1560s.
- Horton 2002, p. 29.
- Breen1980, p. 8.
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- Rodriguez 2007, p. 352.
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- Frank W. Sweet (July 2005). Legal History of the Color Line: The Rise and Triumph of the One-Drop Rule. Backintyme. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-939479-23-8. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Act CII, Laws of Virginia, March, 1661-2 (Hening, Statutes at Large, 2: 116-17)
- David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 124
- T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes, "Myne Owne Ground" Race and Freedom on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1640–1676, Oxford University Press, 1980.
- James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, Hard road to freedon: the story of African America, Rutgers University Press, 2002.
- Junius P. Rodriguez, Slavery in the United States: a social, political, and historical encyclopedia, Volume 2, ABC-CLIO, 2007.
- Charles Johnson, Patricia Smith and the WGBH Research Team, Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999.
- Cox, Ryan Charles. "The Johnson Family: The Migratory Study of an African-American Family on the Eastern Shore". Delmarva Settlers, accessed 16 November 2012.
- Ira Berlin, _Many Thousands Gone, The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America_, Harvard University Press, 1998.
- Virginia, Guide to The Old Dominion, WPA Writers' Program, Oxford University Press, NY, 1940 (p. 378)
- A Thinkport Library article on Johnson's Life
- Nash, Gary B., Julie R. Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, and Allan M. Winkler. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society. 6th ed. New York: Pearson, 2004. 74-75.
- Matthews, Harry Bradshaw, The Family Legacy of Anthony Johnson: From Jamestown, VA to Somerset, MD, 1619-1995. Oneonta, NY: Sondhi Loimthongkul Center for Interdependenc, Hartwick College, 1995.