African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. In the United States, the terms are generally used for Americans with at least partial Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Most African Americans are the direct descendants of captive Africans who survived the slavery era within the boundaries of the present United States, although some are—or are descended from—immigrants from African, Caribbean, Central American or South American nations. As an adjective, the term is usually spelled African-American (William, 135).
African-American history starts in the 17th century with indentured servitude in the American colonies and progresses onto the election of an African American as the 44th and current President of the United States - Barack Obama. Between those landmarks there were other events and issues, both resolved and ongoing, that were faced by African-Americans. Some of these were: slavery, reconstruction, development of the African-American community, participation in the great military conflicts of the United States, racial segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement (William, 135).
Black Americans make up the single largest racial minority in the United States and form the second largest racial group after whites in the United States. The first recorded Africans in British North America (including most of the future United States) arrived in 1619 as indentured servants who settled in Jamestown, Virginia. As English settlers died from harsh conditions more and more Africans were brought to work as laborers. Africans for many years were similar in legal position to poor English indentures, who traded several years' labor in exchange for passage to America. Africans could legally raise crops and cattle to purchase their freedom. They raised families, marrying other Africans and sometimes intermarrying with Native Americans or English settlers. By the 1640s and 1650s, several African families owned farms around Jamestown and some became wealthy by colonial standards. The popular conception of a race-based slave system did not fully develop until the 1700s. The first black congregations and churches were organized before 1800 in both northern and southern cities following the Great Awakening (William, 135). By 1775, Africans made up 20% of the population in the American colonies, which made them the second largest ethnic group after the English. During the 1770s Africans, both enslaved and free, helped rebellious English colonists secure American Independence by defeating the British in the American Revolution. Africans and Englishmen fought side by side and were fully integrated. James Armistead, an African American, played a large part in making possible the 1781 Yorktown victory, which established the United States as an independent nation. Other prominent African Americans were Prince Whipple and Oliver Cromwell, who are both depicted in the front of the boat in George Washington's famous 1776 crossing the Delaware portrait.
By 1860, there were 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the United States due to the Atlantic slave trade, and another 500,000 African-Americans lived free across the country. In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation ...