1705 – Virginia Enacts Slave Codes

In October of 1705, the Virginia General Assembly passed acts “Concerning Servants and Slaves” that included specific guidelines on treatment and punishment of slaves versus white indentured servants, including the critical proviso that:

Be it enacted, by the governor, council and burgesses of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this act, all negro, mulatto, and Indian slaves, in all courts of judicature, and other places, within this dominion, shall be held, taken, and adjudged, to be reat estate (and not chattels;) and shall descend unto the heirs and widows of persons departing this life, according to the manner and custom of land of inheritance, held in fee simple.”

In addition, a number of laws about the possibility of miscegenation were passed:

And for a further prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue, which hereafter may increase in this her majesty’s colony and dominion, as well as by English, and other white men and women intermarrying with negros and mulattos, as by their unlawful coition with them, Be it enacted … That whatsoever English, or other white man or woman, being free, shall intermarry with a negro or mulatto man or woman, bond or free, shall, by judgment of the county court, be committed to prison, and there remain, without bail; and shall forfeit and pay ten pounds current money of Virginia, to the use of the parish, as aforesaid.”

You can read the text of all of these acts here.

The future president tries to get his runaway slave back in 1769

The future president tries to get his runaway slave back in 1769

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