Over the years, the issue of slavery had always been closely associated with the issue of racial prejudice. However, there have been wide dispute among historians about whether or not the racism and discrimination of African Americans were a precursor to their enslavement. This paper examines this concept and concludes that the enslavement of Africans was the result of years of racial prejudice and discrimination.
Historians have often questioned why slavery was so slow in appearing in the laws of the English colonies. Unlike their South American counterparts, who had already developed a slave code before the arrivals of the Africans, it took some forty years after the arrival of the first Africans for the English colonies to mention the issue of slavery in their statutes. Evidence suggests that during this period, the status of a Negro deteriorated, to the extent that they were being regarded as inferior to the white man. The result was the discrimination against the Negro that antedated the legal status of slavery.
Virginia and Maryland were the first states to pass laws recognizing the existence of slaves. Among the first were a series of laws prohibiting Negroes from bearing arms. They were also heavily discriminated against in cases of punishment for runaway servants; the black servants would almost always receive a harsher punishment than the white servants, sometimes even reduced to that of slavery. Even though some did gain their freedom, rising out of servitude, this does not hide the fact that others were sinking into slavery, that the enslavement of Negroes existed long before the laws recognized so. By 1669, a Negro slave would receive virtually no protection under the statutes of Virginia law. The word "Negro" would be used almost interchangeably with "slave."
Similarly, New England also developed a wide discrimination against the Negroes that preceded the development of a slave status. Even the Puritans had no qualms about the enslavement...
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