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Angela Isadora Duncan’s life was as much a tragedy as it was a success story. She was born in San Francisco to a banker father and an art connoisseur mother. By age 3 her father’s bank had failed and her parents soon divorced. Her mother then moved the family to Oakland, California, where she supported the family by being a pianist and music teacher. To earn extra money, young Isadora and her sister gave dance lessons to local children. It was during that time that she began to develop her own personal style. In her late teens she traveled to Chicago, London and eventually Paris, where she fully developed her style of dance that emphasized natural movement and rejecting what she saw as the more rigid techniques utilized in ballet.

Isadora Duncan is credited with being the originator of modern dance. At the height of her success she traveled throughout Europe and North and South America. Her personal life was as flamboyant as her dancing. She was bisexual, sympathized with the Communist party, exposed her breasts on stage and bore two children out of wedlock. Both children, Deidre and Patrick, died tragically when the automobile they were in rolled into the Seine and they drowned (the children are entombed in niches above Isadora’s). When Duncan was dancing, she often employed long, flowing scarves during her performances, and one of those long scarves became the death of her. While some facts may have been lost to time, she reportedly said to friends as she boarded the automobile piloted by handsome French-Italian mechanic Benoit Falchetto, I am off to love, implying she was off on a tryst with Falchetto. Alas, she was wearing one of her long scarves (reportedly a gift from American film director Preston Sturges) and it caught in the open-spoke wheels, snapping her neck. Duncan’s small niche in the columbarium at Pere-Lachaise is awash with kisses and small notes and almost always a pair of ballet shoes.

In 1698, Parliament opened the slave trade to any English subject who could pay the 10 percent ad valorem tax on all goods and slaves exported out of Africa. The Royal African Company received the proceeds of this tax to pay for the maintenance of its forts in Africa. As English subjects, Country merchants received licenses to participate in the slave trade, provided that the Royal African Company received the prescribed 10 percent of their profits. The Chesapeake colonies, Middle colonies, New England colonies, and low-country colonies developed different economies and labor needs. In the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland, African slave labor replaced the labor of white indentured servants on tobacco plantations during the 1680s. Prior to this time, the majority of Africans who came to the Chesapeake colonies arrived from the West Indies through the Atlantic trade with the British Caribbean. By 1686, seven Royal African Company ships with over 1,400 slaves had arrived in Virginia. The number of Africans imported into the Chesapeake continued to increase; during the first four decades of the eighteenth century, 39,000 slaves entered Virginia.

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