Lesson 1: ‘Creating’ Slavery

Essential Question:

What makes a man a slave?


Click here for the Google Drive document of our introductory discussions

First Came….Indentured Servitude.


Guiding Questions:

1.  How was the American experience like handing someone a giant ‘piggy-bank’?  In other words, how were our opportunities unprecedented in the history of the world?  (Think untapped land + availability of cheap labor)

2.  How did the potato contribute to the beginning of indentured servitude? In other words, how did the introduction of the potato influence/affect the European populations and in turn create an opportunity to meet the labor demands in the “New World”?

3. Why might a person consider becoming an indentured servant?  What might push or pull them toward this experience?

4. What was the voyage like for an indentured servant or free person crossing the Atlantic to the “New World”?  What perils did they face?

5. How would you feel if you were in their position?  Why?

6.  Why did people move away from the use of indenture servants and toward the use of slaves?  In what ways did freed indentured servants threaten the social order?

Read: “Packed Densely, Like Herrings”: Gottlieb Mittelberger Warns His Countryman of the Perils of Emigration, 1750: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5713

Indentured Servitude Webquest: http://chnm.gmu.edu/exploring/pre_18thcentury/indenturedservitude/index.php2.

Then…Virginia Makes it Legal.

How did Virginia make a man a slave? Slavery and the Law in Virginia

1. Introduction

Both Virginia’s colonial legislature and the state’s General Assembly passed a massive amount of legislation relating to slaves and the free Negro. The laws that resulted were left to the local jurisdictions to interpret and enforce. In this instance, this was the local county court system.

2. Virginia and the Negro in the Seventeenth Century

Negroes first appeared in Virginia in August 1619, transported aboard a Dutch frigate, not as slaves but as indentured servants. These twenty Negroes, three of whom were women, bound themselves as indentured servants, to work for masters for a specified length of time in return for their passage across the Atlantic. For the next seventy-five years, indentured servitude by both Negroes and whites provided a satisfactory solution to the need for a labor supply.

By 1691, this situation had undergone a dramatic change and it became customary to hold black indentured servants past their term of service. A variety of factors contributed to this change in status for black indentured servants. The supply of free labor decreased while their costs went up. Britain began to take control of the lucrative African and Caribbean slave trade so that there were larger numbers of Negroes from those countries for export to America. By the mid 1660s, Virginia law recognized the word “slave” as referring to an existing class, thus creating a legal basis for slavery. At the same time, the small yeoman holdings were superseded by plantations, dependent upon crops like tobacco and strategically situated along the major rivers leading to the Atlantic. This in turn led to a greater demand for an agricultural labor force.

In 1662, the colonial legislature enacted a law stating that the children of Englishmen and Negro women were to be slave or free according to the condition of the mother.

In 1680, the tidewater planters, now in control of the legislature worried enough about the meetings held by their black bondsmen at plantation gatherings and at burials to usher passage of a law forbidding arms such as clubs, staffs, guns, swords or other weapons to Negro slaves; furthermore, slaves were forbidden to leave their owner’s plantation without a certificate and then only when necessary.

In 1681, the legislature became alarmed at the “inconvenience” to the colony that occurred upon the emancipation of Negroes and mulattos (and its resultant increase in a free Negro population). They feared these freed slaves might entice other Negroes from their masters’ service or become recipients of stolen goods, or be so elderly that the counties would have to maintain them. So the legislature passed a law forbidding emancipation of any Negro or mulatto unless the owner paid for his transportation outside Virginia within six months of setting the slave free. This law had the effect of making black bondsmen slaves for life.

In the same year, the legislature passed the first of many laws outlawing intermarriage between and English or other white man or woman, bond or free, to a Negro, mulatto, or Indian man or woman, bond or free. The penalty was banishment from Virginia.

In 1698, the colonial legislature reiterated that the condition of children born in Virginia, whether bond or free, was according to the condition of the mother. If the mother was a free woman of color, the child was free. If the mother was a slave, the child was also a slave.

Source: http://www.balchfriends.org/glimpse/JPetersIntroBkLaws.htm


Standards for Assessment: 

HS.6. Analyze ideas critical to the understanding of history, including, but not limited to: populism, progressivism, isolationism, imperialism, communism, environmentalism, liberalism, fundamentalism, racism, ageism, classism, conservatism, cultural diversity, feminism, and sustainability.

HS.10. Evaluate an historical source for point of view and historical context.

HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

HS.63. Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.

Please address the ESSENTIAL QUESTION and GUIDING QUESTIONS in any format you choose.

Remember, the goal is to illuminate the ESSENTIAL question, not come to a definitive and final answer.  Weave in your own speculations on any other facet of the ESSENTIAL QUESTION you would like to explore.  

However, you need to  directly answer the GUIDING QUESTIONS with more concrete and specific details from the history lessons in class.  Be sure and tell me specifically about indentured servitude and the transition to making a man a slave (legally) as you

Theory of Knowledge Journal


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