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Read the Review. A tobacco economy for decades, Virginia imported slaves on a large scale only when its supply of indentured servants dwindled toward the end of the century. By the time Virginia began to recruit more slaves than servants, a large white population dominated the colony.

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There were several reasons why the first slave law should have come at that particular time.

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Perhaps the most important factor was the rapidly rising of Africans in the colony. Inthe black population had been a mere twenty individuals in a non-Indian population of about Inthe of blacks had risen to out of 8, Thus, during those two decades, the ratio of blacks to whites had narrowed from one in thirty to one in ten. The African-American were a more visible element in society than they had formerly been. Furthermore, by the 's, Maryland was firmly committed to a tobacco staple economy that demanded an abundance of cheap labor.

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After the first serious tobacco depression, the result of the Act ofeconomic conditions in the colony favored those investors with considerable capital who could command large labor forces. The incorporation in of the Royal Africian Company seemed to assure a ready supply of Africian slaves. What was their status to be? The specific issue that prompted the law, however, was the problem of baptized blacks who claimed their freedom. The Lower House of the Assembly outlined the problem for the Upper House: Itt is desired by the lower house that the upper house would be pleased to drawe up an Act obliging negroes to serve durante vita they thinking itt very necessary for the prevencion of the damage [that] Masters of such Slaves may susteyn by such Slaves pretending to be Christened And soe pleade the lawe of England[.

It also recognized that such a policy would be in direct conflict with English law, [ 3 ] but justified it on the grounds that a valuable source of labor was at stake. The law as finally adopted had four provisions which may be summarized as follows: 1. All "Negroes or other slaves," whether already in the Province, or to be importated later, were to serve "Durante Vita.

All children born of any black or other slave were to be "Slaves as their Fathers. To discourage "dives freeborne English women" who, "forgettfull of their free Condicion and to the disgrace of our Nation", married slaves, thus inconveniencing courts and masters with legal debates over the status of the offspring, any free woman so marrying after the act's passage was to serve her husband's master during her husband's lifetime.

To further discourage such marriages, the children of matches contracted after the act's passage were to be "Slaves as their fathers were. The first provision recognized only two clear and fundamental criteria for enslavement; a black skin and residency in Maryland.

It did not distinguish between free blacks and slave, thereby firmly establishing in law the presumption that all blacks were slaves. Nor did it incorporate religious exceptions because, as we have seen, the law's major purpose was to clear the way for holding black Christians in perpetual bondage.

The second provision specified the inheritability of the slave status by paternal descent. Apparently, the offspring of unmarried black men and white woman, as well as the offspring of any white man and black woman, were to be free.

The third and fourth provisions sought to deal with the "disgrace" of marriages between black male slaves and freeborn English women, [ 5 ] and to provide a standard for determining the status of the children of mixed marriages. Herbert Moller observed that such laws reflected not only repugnance toward sexual liaison between the two races, but a sexual double standard as well by excluding white males and black females.

The earliest slave sex ratio figures are those computed by Kenneth Davies from delivery records of the Royal African Company between the years Davies concluded that of the 60, live deliveries made to the Western Hemisphere during that period, fifty-one percent were men, thirty-five percent were women, and thirteen percent were children. More recent work by Russell Menard has shown convincingly that on Maryland's lower Western Shore, black males far outed black females until well into the eighteenth century.

While the law was important in giving legal definition to racial slavery, it was evidently inadequate to deal with the particular problem at which it was aimed, keeping Christian blacks as slaves.

Inthe Assembly had to forge a new act using more explicit language. While the earlier law only implied that Christianity could not enfranchise a black, the law was less equivocal. Observing that many planters were reluctant to see to the religious instruction of their slaves for fear of losing them upon their baptism and lamenting the reluctance of many to import new slaves for the same reason, the Assembly declared that baptism could in no way effect a black slave's status.

The new law reaffirmed the precept laid down in the law that slavery was decided above all upon the distinction of race. While its main purpose was to perpetuate black slavery, which implied the chattel status of the enslaved, the language of the law suggested the paradoxical assumption that blacks were people who possessed souls meriting salvation: Whereass Severall of the good people of this Province.

Inthe Lords of Trade, apparently disturbed at the Assembly's departure from English law in allowing enslavement of Christians, called upon Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to for the law. Baltimore tried to defend it in humanitarian terms. He said that the opinion had been spreading throughout "many parts of America" that baptizing a slave was tantamount to freeing them. Conveniently ignoring the law's title, "An Act for the Encouraging the Importacion of Negroes and Slaves into this Province," Baltimore claimed its sole purpose was to "encourage the Baptizing" of slaves.

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He made an awkward attempt to cite English legal precedent to further bolster his argument by comparing this law to an old English law allowing the baptism of villians without their "Manumission or Infranchising. Perhaps their ambivalence cited above over the humanity of blacks gave Marylanders pause in this regard. Or perhaps they feared such a law would be disallowed. Nevertheless the wording of a law pertaining to the settlement of orphans' estates pd that slaves were chattels. For purposes here, the law stated that no slaves in such estates were to be sold by the court-appointed executors to satisfy estate debts as long as other goods were available for sale.

Furthermore, if no creditors made claims that would necessitate sale of the slaves within one year of the death of the owner, then the slaves were to be divided between the surviving relatives and be beyond the pale of creditors. Finally, the guardians of orphaned children in such cases could use the slaves to their own benefit until the children were of age whereupon the slaves reverted to the children.

But, the guardians had to return whatever the full substance or value of the slaves was at the time of the intestate's death.

The purpose of the law was to prevent dissipation of an estate's most valuable property. Ina male slave sold for 8, pounds of tobacco [ 14 ] or, at the official value of ld. During the next decade, the slave population increased by at least a third [ 21 ] and the Assembly enacted an impost upon imported white servants and slaves to help defray soaring public expenses during King William's War.

The rates of the duties reflect the most likely sources of revenue and testify to the value of the slave trade to Maryland in the final decade of the seventeenth century. Inthe duty for slaves was set at 10 s. Init passed a new durante vita law which superseded the one of The first two provisions of the new law were virtually the same as the first two provisions of the earlier law.

Africans were to serve for life and pass their condition to their offspring via paternal descent. But, the provisions bearing upon mixed marriages and children of mixed parentage were altered ificantly.

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Beside the "disgrace" of mixed marriages mentioned int he law, the law lamented the connivance of masters who exploited the terms of the earlier law and forced freeborn female indentured servants to marry slaves:. To end such abuses, the law imposed a fine of 10, pounds of tobacco upon any master whom a court of law found guilty of forcing a mixed marriage and a similar fine upon any official solemnizing such a match.

Furthermore, any woman so forced was to be freed and any children resulting from the marriage were to be exempt from the paternal descent clause. The husband evidently remained a slave and the marriage, albeit not one of choice, remained intact. The law officially repealed the law, but did not declare it null and void.

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Presumably, marriages contracted voluntarily were in no way subject to it. Furthermore, by repealing the law and specifically exempting the children of forced marriages, this law implied the freedom of all newborn mulattoes. The only penalties meted out by the law fell upon masters and officials responsible for forced marriages, not upon the women or their children.

On the face of it, this law appears to reflect a curious amelioration of the attitudes that underlaid the law. However, closer scrutiny reveals this was not the case. The impetus behind the new law was not a desire on the part of the Assembly to rectify abuses, but the pressure of Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, on behalf of a former female indentured servant of his, Eleanor Butler.

She went to live in the household of Major William Boarman. Before August ofshe married a slave on the Boarman estate and Baltimore immediately set about repealing the law for her benefit. Eleanor remained technically a slave, though she was permitted considerable personal liberty. She married at a time when thw law was in effect and the law did not declare the earlier one null and void. It is certain, however, that her children, all born after the law, did not go free, since her children's descendants were still petitioning for their freedom a century later.

There is additional evidence to support such an assertion. The law was on the books for eleven years when, init was superseded see below.

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Throughout that eleven-year period, there is no extant record of any master or official convicted of the crime of forcing a mixed marriage. Furthermore, it appears that the county courts continued operating under the law. The two surviving promulgations of the provincial laws in county judicial records both list the law as current during the eleven years that the law was technically in force. Evidently, Marylanders regarded his special law too inamicable to their own interests and disregarded it.

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The durante vita law was both a compromise between and a refinement of the and laws. As before, slaves and their children were to serve for life. But, the Assembly broadened and revised the miscegenation provisions. The revised provisions may be summarized as follows: 1. Any non-servant freeborn white woman who married a black man was to become a servant of her church parish for seven years. Her husband, if free, was to become a slave for the parish.

If the woman was a servant, she was to serve out her remaining time, with additions for time lost due to pregnancies, and then she was to become a servant to the parish for seven years, provided the match was not forced upon her by her master.

Children of mixed marriages were to be servants of the parish for twenty-one years. If the miscegenating couple was not married, the woman was to suffer the seven-year penalty, the child was to serve for twenty-one years, but, the husband, if free, was only to serve for seven years instead of life. The same penalties befalling a white woman as detailed above were to apply to any white man begetting any black woman with child. Any master forcing a marriage was to forfeit 10, pounds of tobacco. It extended the definition of illegal miscegenation to include white men and black women.

It also widened the definition to include free blacks punishing them with up to life servitude. The new law also extended the concept of illegal miscegenation to unmarried couples.

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