Analysis Of Myne Owne Ground And Its Implications For Race Today

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Devan Brader February 3, 2017 An Analysis of “Myne Owne Ground” and its Implications for Race Today In their thought-provoking but generally well-received book, Myne Owne Ground: Race and Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676¸ authors T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes investigate a heretofore little-known community of free blacks. Despite the burgeoning slave trade and generally held racist beliefs in pre-Colonial Virginia, the authors argue, convincingly, that a community based more on land ownership than race as a social divider thrived, albeit only for a generation. They further explore the origins and eventual demise of this curious but egalitarian system. Though it goes against the broad swath of our cultural…show more content…
For example, the authors used, among other materials, the minutes of Council and General Court of colonial Virginia, which reveals laws passed such as one relating to the “punishment of runaway servants”, where following a multi-racial escape, the law drew little distinction between co-conspirators of different races (McIlwaine, 466). It is a very effective research strategy. The authors imply strongly that if we were to look at this culture objectively, without our presupposed notions of race relations in 17th century Virginia, we would assume that wealth, mainly property, was the dividing social characteristic, and not race, as it would be for the next couple centuries. Breen’s and Innes’ research strategy is compelling. By relying more on original source materials, as opposed to others’ summaries and compilations, they are able to achieve that objectivity. Any attempt to find facts or narratives counter to the most recognized ones can only hope to do so by using original sources. Aside from examples of free blacks, Myne Owne Ground also explores the historical quirk of white indentured servants. Though this was a common practice in the colonies, and elsewhere around the world, seen through the lens of a relatively racially equal society, questions of social

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