Transatlantic Slave Trade Leg Shackles

These leg shackles were used to constrain enslaved people shipped across the Atlantic during Florida’s colonial period.

Tampa Bay History Center Collection

Spaniards first brought enslaved Africans to Florida in the 1500s, decades before Dutch traders brought enslaved individuals to English Jamestown in 1619. Some of them were privately owned by Europeans, while others were owned by the Spanish crown. Most were enslaved for life, but a small minority, like Francisco Galindo, managed to escape enslavement. Spanish records indicate Galindo was able to purchase his freedom in 1651.

Three Fast Florida Facts

  1. Enslaved people of African descent were part of Juan Ponce de León’s 1513 and 1521 expeditions to Florida.
  2. By 1606, Florida was home to 100 enslaved people, 40 of whom were owned by the Spanish crown.
  3. Between 1763 and 1787, British aristocrats acquired large tracts of land along the St. Johns River. They transported hundreds of enslaved people there to work the land.