African slaves were introduced to the Americas in 1502. Although the United States outlawed the importation of slaves in 1807, the brutal practice continued until 1865.

Painting by by Richard Schlecht, National Geographic
  • On March 2, 1807, the United States banned the importation of slaves. The law took effect in 1808, although the slave trade actually continued for many decades—the law was never strictly enforced, and people already enslaved in the U.S. remained in servitude. Children born to enslaved mothers were also enslaved.

    It wasn't until the Civil War ended in 1865 that slavery was completely abolished and slaves were free. By that time, roughly 12 million Africans had been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abolish Verb

    to wipe out or get rid of.

    ban Verb

    to prohibit, or not allow.

    Civil War Noun

    (1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

    debate Noun

    instructional strategy that fosters the mastery of content and the development of critical thinking skills, empathy, and oral communication skills. The process of considering multiple viewpoints and arriving at a judgment. Applications range from an individual using debate to make a decision in his or her own mind to an individual or group using debate to convince others to agree with them.

    decade Noun

    10 years.

    slave Noun

    person who is owned by another person or group of people.

    trade Noun

    buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.