Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Lee Wilson

Committee Member

Dr. Stephanie Hassell

Committee Member

Dr. Joshua Catalano


Muslims were present in North America before the establishment of the

American/British colonies. The first Muslims in America were not citizens, but

enslaved Africans forced into the slave trade in the eighteenth century. Muslim slaves

in America were much more prevalent than anyone could have imagined and yet, the

religion of these slaves was rarely ever brought to the surface. In this thesis, I argue

that Muslim slaves not only existed in America but most of them were literate in

multiple languages, well-educated, and were capable of holding on to a set of beliefs.

History books and previous literature have overlooked the existence and lived

experiences of Muslim slaves in the United States during the eighteenth and

nineteenth centuries. I explore the lives of numerous Muslims, predominantly

enslaved Muslims, over the course of 130 years, and I analyze the writings of

numerous Founding Fathers and their position within the debate of religious freedom

for non-Christians. The individuals, events, and documents discussed in this thesis

are just a few selected insights from a much larger, complex history that has yet to be

fully explored. From these insights, historians can begin to draw a deeper and more

complete understanding of this nation's history - a history that fully incorporates

Muslims’ influence and presence in America.



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