Total , In , Massachusetts became the first colony to authorize slavery through enacted law. Colonists came to equate this term with Native Americans and Africans.
He had claimed to an officer that his master, Anthony Johnson , himself a free black , had held him past his indenture term. A neighbor, Robert Parker told Johnson that if he did not release Casor, Parker would testify in court to this fact.
Under local laws, Johnson was at risk for losing some of his headright lands for violating the terms of indenture. Under duress, Johnson freed Casor. Casor entered into a seven years' indenture with Parker.
Feeling cheated, Johnson sued Parker to repossess Casor. A Northampton County, Virginia court ruled for Johnson, declaring that Parker illegally was detaining Casor from his rightful master who legally held him "for the duration of his life".
England had no system of naturalizing immigrants to its island or its colonies. Since persons of African origins were not English subjects by birth, they were among those peoples considered foreigners and generally outside English common law. The colonies struggled with how to classify people born to foreigners and subjects.
In Virginia, Elizabeth Key Grinstead , a mixed-race woman, successfully gained her freedom and that of her son in a challenge to her status by making her case as the baptized Christian daughter of the free Englishman Thomas Key.
Her attorney was an English subject, which may have helped her case. He was also the father of her mixed-race son, and the couple married after Key was freed. A child of an enslaved mother would be born into slavery, regardless if the father were a freeborn Englishman or Christian. This was a reversal of common law practice in England, which ruled that children of English subjects took the status of the father. The change institutionalized the skewed power relationships between slaveowners and slave women, freed the white men from the legal responsibility to acknowledge or financially support their mixed-race children, and somewhat confined the open scandal of mixed-race children and miscegenation to within the slave quarters.
The Virginia Slave codes of further defined as slaves those people imported from nations that were not Christian. Native Americans who were sold to colonists by other Native Americans from rival tribes , or captured by Europeans during village raids, were also defined as slaves.
Ledger of sale of slaves, Charleston, South Carolina , c. Slavery was then legal in the other twelve English colonies. Neighboring South Carolina had an economy based on the use of enslaved labor. The Georgia Trustees wanted to eliminate the risk of slave rebellions and make Georgia better able to defend against attacks from the Spanish to the south, who offered freedom to escaped slaves.
James Edward Oglethorpe was the driving force behind the colony, and the only trustee to reside in Georgia. He opposed slavery on moral grounds as well as for pragmatic reasons, and vigorously defended the ban on slavery against fierce opposition from Carolina slave merchants and land speculators.
As economic conditions in England began to improve in the first half of the 18th century, workers had no reason to leave, especially to face the risks in the colonies. During most of the British colonial period, slavery existed in all the colonies.
People enslaved in the North typically worked as house servants, artisans, laborers and craftsmen, with the greater number in cities. Many men worked on the docks and in shipping.
In , more than 42 percent of New York City households held slaves, the second-highest proportion of any city in the colonies after Charleston, South Carolina. The South developed an agricultural economy dependent on commodity crops.
Its planters rapidly acquired a significantly higher number and proportion of slaves in the population overall, as its commodity crops were labor-intensive.
Before then long-staple cotton was cultivated primarily on the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina. The invention of the cotton gin in enabled the cultivation of short-staple cotton in a wide variety of mainland areas, leading in the 19th century to the development of large areas of the Deep South as cotton country.
Tobacco was very labor-intensive, as was rice cultivation. They also worked in the artisanal trades on large plantations and in many southern port cities. Backwoods subsistence farmers, the later wave of settlers in the 18th century who settled along the Appalachian Mountains and backcountry, seldom held enslaved people. Some of the British colonies attempted to abolish the international slave trade , fearing that the importation of new Africans would be disruptive.
Virginia bills to that effect were vetoed by the British Privy Council. Rhode Island forbade the import of enslaved people in All of the colonies except Georgia had banned or limited the African slave trade by ; Georgia did so in Some of these laws were later repealed. The great majority of enslaved Africans were transported to sugar colonies in the Caribbean and to Brazil.
As life expectancy was short, their numbers had to be continually replenished. Life expectancy was much higher in the U. The number of enslaved people in the US grew rapidly, reaching 4 million by the Census. From until , the rate of natural growth of North American enslaved people was much greater than for the population of any nation in Europe, and it was nearly twice as rapid as that of England.
This resulted in a different pattern of slavery in Louisiana, purchased in , compared to the rest of the United States. Although it authorized and codified cruel corporal punishment against slaves under certain conditions, it forbade slave owners to torture them or to separate married couples or to separate young children from their mothers.
It also required the owners to instruct slaves in the Catholic faith. Most of Louisiana's "third class" of free people of color, situated between the native-born French and mass of African slaves, lived in New Orleans. The mixed-race offspring cf.
The English colonies insisted on a binary system, in which mulatto and black slaves were treated equally under the law, and discriminated against equally if free. But many free people of African descent were mixed race. They officially discouraged interracial relationships although white men continued to have unions with black women, both enslaved and free. The Americanization of Louisiana gradually resulted in a binary system of race, causing free people of color to lose status as they were grouped with the slaves.
They lost certain rights as they became classified by American whites as officially "black".