A Black Man’s Court Case Legalized Slavery

Anthony Johnson

Did you know that a black man, Anthony Johnson, won a court case in Northampton County Court in 1655 to keep his slave, John Casor, and the ruling became the first legal sanction of slavery in America? Johnson arrived in Jamestown in 1619, was treated as an indentured servant and eventually became a prosperous land and slave owner.  Casor claimed that he was an indentured servant and not purchased as a slave as Johnson claimed. The Northampton County Court awarded Casor to Johnson as a slave. The ruling on the case can be found in the Northampton County Deeds, Wills, Etc., March 8, 1654/5, 7 (1655-1668), fol.10.