The Practice Of African American Slavery As We Are Familiar

1371 WordsJan 24, 20176 Pages
The practice of African American slavery as we are familiar with today, began with a Portuguese expedition. Portugal was a small and poor country, so Prince Henry and other leaders wanted to acquire wealth and compete with Arab traders who traded these slaves to North Africa and Europe, so they began to send ships to Africa in order to capture and enslave people. Religion played a big role in promoting and justifying taking Africans as slaves. In the fifteenth century, many medieval European societies started to believe it improper for Christians to enslave other Christians. Because Africans were black and therefore not Christians, they became the prime target for enslavement. It was also believed that God was helping sailors to…show more content…
Gradually, over the seventeenth century, laws were passed to institutionalize the practice, usually by articulating divisions between blacks and whites. By keeping the two racial groups socially apart, lawmakers were able to firmly put slavery into place. In 1640, Virginia gave everyone the right to bear arms except “negroes”, as it was too risky to arm slaves (Williams, 26). The same year, the court in Virginia outlined the ways in which black people were to be treated. In one example, where three indentured servants escaped together from their master, two of which who were white (Victor and Gregory) and the other black (Punch), Punch received a much harsher punishment of being locked into servitude while Victor and Gregory were only given four extra years of service. The court made it clear that this harsher sentence was given to Punch simply because he was black (Williams, 27). Later in 1662, Virginia passed a law making slavery hereditary and declaring that the status passed through the mother (Williams, 28). So a child of a white man and a black woman could be claimed a slave by the owner of the mother, however a child of a black man and a white woman would immediately be free. It’s important to note that interracial sex in and of itself was looked down upon and made illegal. It was considered a “dishonor of God” and the colony disapproved of interracial

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