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. It also restricted any Christian from committing fornication with a negro man or women and if they are caught doing so they are to be forced to pay double the fine of the previous act. “By the mid seventeenth century, colonial America was not simply biracial, but triracial. Although Africans were relatively rare in the Chesepeake during the 1630’s or 1640’s, the shift from endentured servants to enslaved Africans and African Americans was virtually complete by the eighteenth century.”

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

Berkin, Carol, Margaret Crocco, and Barbara Winslow. Clio in the classroom: a guide for teaching U.S. women’s history. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards, December 1662

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