On August 20, 1619 the first twenty plus Africans arrived in Jamestown. They were aboard an English warship, White Lion, sailing with a letters of marque issued to the English Captain Jope by the Protestant Dutch Prince Maurice, son of William of Orange.
A letters of marque legally permitted the White Lion to sail as a privateer attacking any Spanish or Portuguese ships it encountered.
The Africans were captives removed from the Portuguese slave ship, San Juan Bautista, following an encounter the ship had with the White Lion.
They were not seen as slaves but taken as Indentured labourers.
They lived and worked in the community, then were freed and became full citizens. This changed in 1654 when Athony Johnson, himself an African, petitioned the court to have one of his indentured Africans declared a slave, not a servant. That he was competent to petition the Court meant he was treated as a full citizen. In fact Anthony Johnson had one of the wealthiest and largest tobacco plantations in the colony.