How Long Was Slavery In The US (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 246 Years

It all started when the United Kingdom began colonization throughout the world. Amongst the countries that the UK colonized even United States was also under slavery. Slavery in the US became a sort of legal institution.

Human chattel slavery mainly comprised of the enslavement of Africans and African Americans. It even existed right when America was founded in 1776. If the colonization by the United Kingdom is to be considered, it started in 1526 and lasted for hundreds of years.

How Long Was Slavery In The US

How Long Was Slavery In The US?

There are multiple theories concerning the period of slavery in the United States, and some of them hold truth. With an intent to bring growth and development to the United States, the British started with the idea of colonies in the states.

If the timeline of slavery is to count, actual slavery in the United States started in the year 1619 when 20 Africans were brought into the states as slaves. It was in this period that black Americans, African Americans were sentenced to enslavement for life.

This went on for centuries, and meanwhile, many new rules were passed against the slaves and those who harbor slaves. It was only in December 1865 that finally slavery was outlawed in the united states. As per the timeline, the period for which slavery existed in the United States was for 246 years.

It became a crime being born as a black person in the United States. The person who was black was automatically enslaved for life. There were many cities in the United States where reform started to put an end to slavery. Owing to this, gradually the whole United States was anti-slavery by the end of 1865.

CalculationPeriod for which slavery existed in the United States.
In Years246 years
In Months2954 months
In Days89790 days

Why Was Slavery That Long In The US?

What started with colonization in the US soon led to a norm where black people were more than looked down upon. They were denied all human rights and were also treated as servants.

Bringing a change in the nation so wide became a reform. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a few states formally adopted anti-slavery resolutions. It lead to a nationwide uproar where those who were enslaved began fighting for their freedom.

There were revolts everywhere. A few revolts like the one in New York in the year 1712 led to the death of nine white men. It infuriated the government, and more restrictions were levied upon the slaves.

The hatred towards black men lowered when free black soldiers helped to the cause of Independence of America from the British rule that has been going over for more than a century.

To make the nation anti-slave, many revolts took place in the eighteenth century at different locations which led to the death of hundreds of white men. It was after the most brutal revolt of the century that happened in 1831, that the United States started making changes for the rights of black slaves.

In the year 1841, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that schooner’s African Captives were free and were also given rights to resist “unlawful” slavery. In the period between 1860 to 1861, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the president of the United States. It was also the time when the United States Civil War began.

By this time, a total black population of 488,070 was free from enslavement. In the year 1863, President Abraham Lincoln went ahead and issued Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation stated a union victory. It led to the end of slavery in the United States.

Finally, on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution was passed, erasing enslavement practices forever.


It took time for the white people of America to get on friendly terms with their black counterparts. Some revolts and rallies slowly changed the thought process of the United States.

After 246 years of enslavement, the black population of the United States finally got the freedom to live like a human in the country without being looked down upon. There are a few cases post-1865 too, but the numbers reduced fast leading to a slavery-free nation.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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