An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards, December 1662

[December 1662] “Whereas some doubts have arrisen whether children got by an Englishman 5 upon a negro woman should be slave or Free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And if any christian shall committ Fornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the Fines imposed by the former act.”

Through out the 17th to the 19th century, African Americans were imported to the New World against their will and sold for slavery. In 1619, 20 African Americans arrived in Jamestown against thier will. And since then their children sold into slavery. But as time went on rape and interracial relations occurred, resulting the issue of what rights the “bastard child” should be given. The Grand Assembly decided that the fate of any child born in this new country should be decided upon the skin color of the mother.

Sources: “An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards,” December 1662, Week 3 line 4-8

4 Replies to “An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards, December 1662”

  1. You could also incorporate the reasoning for such interrelations, which ties back to immigrant, like how there were not many Englishwomen who came over in the beginning so men vastly outnumbered the women.


  2. You should write more about why interracial relations were considered to be so wrong. Also say what right the bastard children were given. Also is it ever explained why slavery is passed from the mother?


  3. make sure to mention that the child is held on the “condition of the mother.” This basically made it so that if a white man were to have sex or rape a black woman, the child was still going to be a slave. Although the law says the man would have to pay double fine, we know that it wouldn’t really happen. If a white man were to rape a black woman, the babies skin color would still be darker. If a white woman gave birth her baby would be black and therefore, she would get fined and the father would probably also be punished.


  4. It seems worth noting, at the outset, the difference between immigrants and forced migrants – that will, obviously, become a little slipperier later on when you talk about female Chinese immigrants or what have you.


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