Missouri's First Blacks
The first Black slaves to enter what would later be named Missouri arrived in 1719 as unwilling participants in the new French mining venture. Des Ursins bought five Blacks with him, and although he failed to find the silver mines he sought, he did discover several rich lead deposits. In 1720, Phillippe Fransois Renault was sent from France to direct lead-mining operations. He may have brought with him as many as 500 Black slaves from the French island of Haiti. These were the first permanent Black residents of Missouri. The Company of the West contracted to supply Renault with 25 additional Blacks annually. By 1725, Renault's mines were yielding 1,500 pounds of lead per day.
The French Explorers