Saturday, March 7, 2009

Non-Christian Servants Declared Slaves

In November 1682 the Virginia assembly enacted legislation specifying that

. . . all servants except Turks and Moores . . . whether Negroes, Moors, Mollattoes or Indians, who and whose parentage and Native country are not Christian at the time of their first purchase of such servant by some Christian, although afterwards, and before such their importation and bringing into this country they shall be converted to the Christian faith; and all Indians which shall hereafter be sold by our neighbouring Indians, or any other trafiqueing with us as for slaves are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes, any law, usage or custom to the countrary [Hening 1809-1823:II:491-492]

Thus, all who were sold as slaves were considered slaves, whether or not they had been converted to Christianity. Moreover, Indians and other non-whites were considered slaves if they had been imported or sold as such. The new law also declared that Indian maid servants who were age 16 or older were considered tithables, i.e., they were considered taxable personal property.

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