Upon arrival, enslaved Africans, shackled and bound, discovered what awaited them in a foreign land. They disembarked at places like Union Point where the ship Hope disembarked in New Bern in 1774. Enslaved Africans were sold in the New Bern Area at Edward Batchelor’s storefront, and in Wilmington, some were sold on the street. They would be relocated throughout North Carolina. In 1787, eighty-one enslaved Africans were brought to Port Edenton on the Jennet, to be acquired by the Lake Company which was responsible for obtaining labor for Somerset Place.


Advertisement by Edward Batchelor & Co. North Carolina Gazette, December 23, 1774
Advertisement by Edward Batchelor & Co.
North Carolina Gazette, December 23, 1774


Colonial North Carolina was the main exporter of agricultural products including lumber, domesticated animals, turpentine, rosin, rice, wheat, beans, etc.  Enslaved Africans and their descendants provided labor for North Carolina until and well after Emancipation. Without their contribution, North Carolina’s economic landscape could not have been sustained.

Further Readings

Andrews, William L., ed. North Carolina Slave Narratives: The Lives of Moses Roper, Lunsford Lane, Moses Gandy, and Thomas H. Jones.

Baptist, Edward E. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 2014.

Cecelski, David S. The Waterman's Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Combs, Edwin L. "Trading in Lubberland: Maritime Commerce in Colonial North Carolina." The North Carolina Historical Review 80, no. 1 (2003): 1-27.

Crow, Jeffery J., Paul D. Escott, Flora J. Hatley Wadelington. History of African Americans in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Curtain, Phillip D. The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Keys, Bunyon. Over Three Hundred Years of Black People in Blounts Creek, Beaufort County, North Carolina: Book 1. Bloomington: Xlibris, 2014

Lefler, Hugh Talmage and Albert R. Newsome. North Carolina: The History of a Southern State. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1973.

Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and Servitude in Colonial America: A Short History. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

Williams, Heather Andrea. Help Me to Find my People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012.


Digital Resources

Digital NC Historical Newspapers
This resource is a collection of newspapers during colonial period. This source includes slave advertisements such as "runaway" or "for sale" ads.

WPA Slave Narratives
This resource is a collection of narratives from formerly enslaved people. Individuals recall their ancestors' specific stories of how they arrived in America.

Digital Library on American Slavery: North Carolina Runaway Slave Notices, 1750-1865
This resource provides online access to all runaway slave notices in North Carolina. These notices were published in newspapers from which these ads are collected.

Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade
Enslaved is a database of records of profiles of enslaved people. Users are able to search names, location, gender, etc. in order to find genealogical information, as well as, link data to "visualize larger relations and movements."

Library of Congress: Slavery in America
This resource guide is a part of Library of Congress's digital collections. This collection hosts a variety of primary source materials related to slavery, including photopgraphs, documents, and sound recordings.

For additional information on North Carolina's involvement in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade check out our research report below.

Pelham, Amber. "Final Research Report: Disembarkation in North Carolina." North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, April 19, 2022.