Historians Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton tell the story of an enslaved Christian woman, Angela from West Central Africa, who in 1619 was transported from Luanda to the New World by Portuguese slavers, seized by English privateers off the coast of Yucatán, and eventually landed in Virginia in what is considered the first group of African captives to arrive in English North America. Heywood and Thornton speculate that Angela probably came from the Kingdom of Ndongo or Christian Kongo. Had she not already been Christian, Portuguese priests would have baptized her prior to embarkation as law required. 1 Angela’s story illustrates that Roman Catholic Missionaries were deeply implicated in both Christianization and the slave trade relatively early on. In Brazil, already in the mid-sixteenth century, Jesuit missionaries had complained that colonists’ violent campaigns to subdue and enslave Native Americans were undermining evangelization efforts. 2 British Protestant colonizers, slaveholders, and missionaries entered the Atlantic field long after Iberian Catholics. As Carla Gardina Pestana notes, British slaveholders in the West Indies only began to receive increased requests from missionaries to work among their slaves in the 1780s; slaveholders themselves finally came to “encourage the Christianization of their chattel”
Social Sciences and Missions (preceeded by Le Fait Missionaire until 2006) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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