Mathias de Sousa was possibly the first Cape Verdean to set foot in America arriving on the “Ark” as an indentured servant to Jesuit priests who were a part of an expedition led by Lord Baltimore in 1634. I was first introduced to the story of Mathias by Cape Verdean historian, Ray Almeida (1944-2010).
While there isn’t much documented of Mr de Sousa and his Cape Verdean ancestry, I did find some compelling evidence that one of the ships did go through Cabo Verde on its way to Maryland.
The expedition left England in November 1633 with two vessels, the Ark and the Dove. Within a few days, the expedition hit bad weather and the Dove returned to England while the Ark continued. A few weeks later, the ship’s log notes visiting the island of Bonavista/Boa Vista. (Maryland State Archives) It is VERY plausible that Mathias could have boarded the ship in Boa Vista, Cabo Verde. The Ark and the Dove arrived in St Mary’s City, Maryland in February of 1634.
Mathias was one of 9 indentured servants on this expedition and the first Black Marylander. He went on to become the first black man to cast a vote in Maryland and what was to become the United States of America in 1642 as a member of the Maryland General Assembly.
Cape Verdeans have been a part of American History since before there was a United States of America.
I am extremely proud to know that the first black man to cast a vote in this country was a Cape Verdean!