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‘Or Other Slaves’
The 1680 Virginia Law That Says it All


June 1680

WHEREAS the frequent meeting of considerable numbers of negroe slaves under pretence of feasts and burials [0] is judged of dangerous consequence; [0] for prevention whereof for the future, Bee it enacted by the kings most excellent majestie by and with the consent of the generall assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority foresaid, that from and after the publication of this law, it shall not be lawfull for any negroe or other slave [1] to carry or arme himselfe with any club, staffe, gunn, sword or any other weapon of defence or offence, nor to goe or depart from of his masters ground without a certificate from his master, [2] mistris or overseer and such permission not to be granted but upon perticuler and necessary occasions;

and every negroe or slave [1] soe offending not haveing a certificate as aforesaid shalbe sent to the next constable, who is hereby enjoyned and required to give the said negroe twenty lashes on his bare back well layd on, and soe sent home to his said master, mistris or overseer.

And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave [1] shall presume to lift up his hand in opposition against any christian, shall for every such offence, upon due proofe made thereof by the oath of the party before a magistrate, have and receive thirty lashes on his bare back well laid on.

And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave [1] shall absent himself from his masters service and lye hid and lurking in obscure places, comité ting injuries to the inhabitants, and shall resist any person or persons that shalby any lawfull authority by imployed to apprehend and take the said negroe, that then in case of such resistance, it shalbe lawfull for such person or persons to kill the said negroe or slave [1] soe lying out and resisting, and that this law be once every six months published at the respective county courts and parish churches [3] within this colony.

Notes

0. With Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and the Tobacco Cutting Riots in Thomas Hellier butchering his owners in 1678, with shipments of blacks straight from Africa numbering now 5,000 a year [though 10,000 whites were shipped into the colony this year] the masters were right to fear uprisings as they were flooding the land with unfree people. Most of whom would die in bondage, and in 1682 the last joint white/black uprising would occur with the Tobacco Cutting Riots. Frequent burials should say something about the hellish conditions of plantation.

1. “or other slave” is a clear reference to white slaves, as the Indians were all but gone from settled areas by this point, with Bacon having wiped out the Richmond Falls tribe of slave catching Indians allied to the Governor in 1676. The fact that the term negroe slaves is used rather than slave or negroe, is a direct refutation of the belief that only blacks were enslaved.

2. Slave passes are the source of passports, identification cards and drivers licenses.

3. Anglican churches provided church wardens charged with assigning a master to any white child borne out of wedlock, the price for being born a bastard being 31 years a slave!

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Recognizing and Surviving the Condition of Anarcho-Tyranny

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