This is a timeline of the history of Africans and their descendants in what is now the United States, from 1565 to the present.

Exploration and Discovery
Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus makes his first voyage to the New World opening a vast new empire for plantation slavery.

Africans in the New World

The first Africans arrive in Hispaniola with Christopher Columbus. They are free persons.

Spanish Slavery

The Spanish king allows the introduction of enslaved Africans into Spain's American colonies.

Exploration and Discovery

The first enslaved Africans arrive in Hispaniola.

Exploration and Discovery

Thirty Africans accompany Vasco Núñez de Balboa on his trip to the Pacific Ocean.

Spanish Slavery
Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas

Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas petitions Spain to allow the importation of twelve enslaved Africans for each household immigrating to America's Spanish colonies. De Las Casas later regrets his actions and becomes an opponent of slavery.

Spanish Slavery

King Charles I of Spain grants the first licenses to import enslaved Africans to the Americas.

Spanish Slavery

The first shipload of enslaved Africans directly from Africa arrives in the West Indies. Prior to this time, Africans were brought first to Europe.

Colonial Conquest
Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés begins conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Spanish Slavery

Enslaved Africans are used as laborers in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico.

Anti-Slavery Resistance

African slaves stage a rebellion in Hispaniola. This is the first slave uprising in the New World.

Africans in the New World
Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón

Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón build the community of San Miguel de Guadape in what is now Georgia. They bring along enslaved Africans, considered to be the first in the present-day United States.

These Africans flee the colony, however, and make their homes with local Indians. After Ayllon's death, the remaining Spaniards relocate to Hispaniola.

Exploration and Discovery

Esteban, a Moroccan-born Muslim slave, explores what is now the Southwestern United States.

Africans in the New World
Hernando de Soto

An African from Hernando de Soto's Expedition into the Lower Mississippi River valley decides to remain behind to make his home among the Native Americans there.

Exploration and Discovery

Africans serve in the New Mexico Expeditions of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and Hernando de Alarcón.


The Spanish Crown abolishes Indian slavery.

Portuguese Slavery

The first slaves directly from Africa arrive in the Brazilian city of Salvador.

English Slavery
John Hawkins

An expedition to Hispaniola led by John Hawkins, the first English slave trader, sparks English interest in that activity. Hawkins’ travels also call attention to Sierra Leone. Hawkins is knighted in 1588 for his service in England's victory over the Spanish Armada.

Africans in the New World
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

African farmers and artisans accompany Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on the expedition that establishes the community of San Agustin (St. Augustine, Florida).

Anti-Slavery Campaign

Professor Bartolome de Albornoz of the University of Mexico writes against the enslavement and sale of Africans.

Africans in the New World

Isabel de Olvera, a free mulatto, accompanies the Juan Guerra de Resa Expedition which colonizes what is now New Mexico.