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Monday, November 06, 2006

Slavery, Property, and Miscegenation

In 1662, the Virginia legislature passed a law that read, "Children got by an Englishman upon a Negro woman shall be bond or free according to the condition of the mother." Seems otherwise innocuous, but this statute reversed English common law under which the status of the child frollowed that of the father.

The implications were huge. It meant that slave owners could impregnate as many slave women as they wanted secure in the knowledge that the children that resulted would become their property, increasing their wealth and slave population. This provided a huge incentive for white men to sleep with their slave women.

This intertwined sex and race and led to the powerful taboo of black men marrying or even looking at a white woman. The long-term result of this taboo was the epidemic of the lynching of black men.

Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson
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