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By 1623 he had earned his freedom and by 1651, was prosperous enough to import five ‘servants’ of his own, for which he received a grant of 250 acres as ‘headrights.’ Anthony Johnson ought to be in a ‘Book of First.’ As the most ambitious of the first 20, he could have been the first negro to set foot on Virginia soil.He was Virginia’s first free negro and first to establish a negro community, first negro landowner, first negro slave owner and as the first, white or black, to secure slave status for a servant, he was actually the founder of slavery in Virginia.Tiro was freed before his master's death, and was successful enough to retire on his own country estate, where he died at the age of 99.However, the master could arrange that slaves would only have enough money to buy their freedom when they were too old to work.The testimony of a slave could not be accepted in a court of law unless the slave was tortured—a practice based on the belief that slaves in a position to be privy to their masters' affairs would be too virtuously loyal to reveal damaging evidence unless coerced.Over time, however, slaves gained increased legal protection, including the right to file complaints against their masters.Slaves were considered property under Roman law and had no legal personhood.

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Any future children of a freedman would be born free, with full rights of citizenship.Roman mosaic from Dougga, Tunisia (2nd century CE): the two slaves carrying wine jars wear typical slave clothing and an amulet against the evil eye on a necklace; the slave boy to the left carries water and towels, and the one on the right a bough and a basket of flowers Slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the economy.