Essay: Slavery in Virginia

Slavery was introduced in Virginia in late August of 1619; a Dutch ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia with about twenty or more Negroes onboard. The shipment that was exchanged was the ship with the Negroes on it in exchange for food. They were first introduced as indentured servants. An indentured servant is a person who’s under contract to work for another person for a long period of time, usually without pay but in exchange for free passage to a new country. The popular beginning of a racial-based slave system did not grow until the 1680’s.
The number of African American slaves was very small at first. By the 1680s, the slaves had become vital to the economy. The popular start of a racial-based slave system did not grow until the 1680’S. The first twenty slaves arrived in Jamestown from the West Indies in 1619. By 1625, ten slaves were recorded in the first census of Jamestown.
Millions of Native Americans were enslaved as well; in the American colonies in 1730, nearly 25 percent of the slaves in the Carolinas were Cherokee, Creek, or other Native Americans. The Pilgrims settled at Plymouth Massachusetts. Plymouth, for the most part, had servants and not slaves, meaning most black servants were given their freedom after turning twenty five years old under similar predetermined planning as English arrangements. According to Dutch law, the children of freed slaves are destined to slavery.
In 1641 Massachusetts legalizes slavery and then the following year Virginia colony passes law to fine those who protect or assist runaway slaves. For centuries the issue of equal rights presented a major challenge to the states. Virginia, after all, had been the main site for the growth of black slavery in America. By the 1650s some of the indentured servants had gotten their freedom.
Slavery spread fast in the American colonies. At first the legal standing of Africans in America was poorly defined, and some, like European indentured servants, managed to become free after several years of service. From the 1660s, however, the colonies began enacting laws that defined and controlled slave relations. Essential to these laws was the provision that black slaves, and the children of slave women, would serve for life. This idea, combined with the natural population growth among the slaves, meant that slavery could survive and go on for a much longer time. It could survive and continue to grow.
After 1691, freed black slaves were banished from Virginia. They were to leave and never come back; they served no purpose in Virginia. A Virginia law assumed that Africans would remain slaves for life. In 1662 Virginia law providing that children conceived with an Englishman upon a Negro woman shall be bond or free according to the condition of the mother. Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, several foreign governments adopted similar rules which reversed the usual common law beliefs that the status of the child. These laws simplified the upbringing of slaves through Black women’s bodies and allowed for slaveholders to reproduce their own labor force.

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