Slavery in Bristish America
The spread of tobacco made Chesapeake planters to move from indentured servants to slaves. There were many reasons for this change. Firstly, by law, blacks had many disadvantages. Such as, they could not claim the protection under the English law. Secondly, while indentured servants had fixed terms, blacks’ terms of service never expired. Moreover, children of slaves would also become slaves and their skin color made them much harder to escape to the outside world. They would be enslaved for forever, with extreme small chances of being released, unless they were deported to other areas. Another reason that helped expand slavery was that, blacks had been used to working on fields with all the hard work. They also encountered many diseases and had developed antibodies to resist to them. Therefore, black population were less likely to be defeated by epidemics, while the Indian population’s death rate was very high due to this reason.
The second main reason that led to the expansion of slavery in British America was the law. “As late as 1680, there were only 4500 blacks in the Chesapeake, a little over 5 percent of the region’s population.” (104) Even when the black population was still that small, new law was enacted to improve and status of white servants and further blocked access to freedom for blacks. “A Virginia law of 1662 provided that in the case of a child one of whose parents was free and one slave, the status of the offspring followed that of the mother. (This provision not only reversed the European practice of defining a child’s status through the father but also made the sexual abuse of slave women profitable for slaveholders, since any children that resulted remained the owner’s property.)” (106) And, “In 1667, the Virginia House of Burgesses decreed that religious conversion did