On this date in 1644 the first “legal” protest by Africans in America occurred when 11 slaves petitioned the Council of New Netherlands (New York) for their freedom. The petition was granted. The bondsmen had been enslaved for close to 20 years. Slavery began in New York in 1626. The Dutch West India Company were the chief slavers responsible for importation of slaves from Angola into the U.S. and Caribbean. By the early part of the 1700s over 40 percent of New York households used slaves.