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Historical Document
Colonial laws

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The shift from indentured servitude to racial slavery in the British colonies is evident in the development of the colonies' laws.

• Virginia, 1639: The first law to exclude "Negroes" from normal protections by the government was enacted.

• Maryland, 1664: The first colonial "anti-amalgamation" law is enacted (amalgamation referred to "race-mixing"). Other colonies soon followed Maryland's example. A 1691 Virginia law declared that any white man or woman who married a "Negro, mulatto, or Indian" would be banished from the colony forever.

• Virginia, 1667: Christian baptisms would no longer affect the bondage of blacks or Indians, preventing enslaved workers from improving their legal status by changing their religion.

• Virginia, 1682: A law establishing the racial distinction between servants and slaves was enacted.

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Related Entries:
Virginia's slave codes
Virgina recognizes slavery

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