Twenty slaves in Virginia Africans brought to Jamestown are the first slaves imported into Britain's North American colonies. Most American slaves did come from Africa. The majority of slaves who were brought to North America came from West Africa. They were captured and sold to slave traders. They were forced onto ships for the long journey to America. The most basic purpose of slavery is to rid oneself of work and force the hideous labor upon someone else. Since the time of our more primitive era, societies have taken slaves from war and conquest, and forced them to do their workaday tasks.In the early 17th century, European settlers in North America turned to African slaves as a cheaper, more plentiful labor source than indentured servants (who were mostly poorer Europeans). After 1619, when a Dutch ship brought 20 Africans ashore at the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, slavery spread throughout the American colonies. Though it is impossible to give accurate figures, some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million slaves were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone, depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest men and women.