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‘To Be Admitted to the Sacrament’
1662-67: The Years During Which Blacks Became Slaves by Birth in English Virginia

The author’s comments are in italics.

December 1662

WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or ffree, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any christian shall committ ffornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act.

This was a false ruling, a lie at its legislative birth, as white women bred by their masters with negro men had their children taken as slaves for life by law, from this point on.

September 1667

WHEREAS some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners made pertakers of the blessed sacrament of baptisme, should by vertue of their baptisme be made ffree; It is enacted and declared by this grand assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptisme doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or ffreedome; that diverse masters, ffreed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour the propagation of christianity by permitting children, though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable to be admitted to that sacrament.

The docile nature of Negro slaves compared to white slaves is indicated in part, by the near universal adoption of Christianity by black American slaves, including their hunger for scriptural enlightenment even against the desire of their masters, when, by contrast escaped white slaves often renounced their English heritage and Christian faith in favor of native adoption.

So Her Master May Have Her Again

A History of Runaway White Slaves in Plantation America: Part Two

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