Honors/AP Writing • Trade intros with partner Underline his/her thesis. Thesis: the sentence that illustrates the argument or answer to the question. Examples: The social and economic condition of Africans in Virginia gradually evolved from apparent equality into one of separation and degradation as their rights were stripped away. The treatment of Africans in colonial Virginia was never good, but as slavery became entrenched, their status in society plummeted.
The status of Africans in colonial Virginia dropped over time. They went from humans to being property. The laws even said that they could be killed without punishment. Africans were treated badly in America.
From 1619, when the first Africans arrived in colonial Virginia, they were an important part of the labor force. The agricultural cash-crop economy of the region depended greatly upon the availability of labor, and slaves met this need. Three factors led to this turn to slavery. Indentured servants stopped coming to the South thanks to the climate and brutal work required in the area. The former indentured servants moved out to the frontier and became part of Bacon’s Rebellion. The increased supply of slaves with the founding of the Royal African Company made them less expensive for the colonists. The growth of slavery was directly tied to these three factors.
Did you ever wonder about the status of Africans in colonial Virginia? Well, it’s pretty complicated. You’d think it was all about slavery, but it wasn’t. Indentured servitude played a role too. That evolved over time and meant that African-Americans in colonial Virginia were treated unfairly.
People have been enslaved in the Americas since the time of first European contact. Slaves at first were Native Americans, and then Africans were eventually used. Not all Africans in Virginia were slaves though. Some were actually property owners who were free to buy servants and become Christians. As time passed though, Africans were treated more harshly and enslaved. Laws regarding their behavior became stricter.
Slavery in the original thirteen British colonies developed gradually. In Virginia, for example, some early black settlers were actually free landowners. Others were servants not treated much differently from white servants in the region. It was only as tobacco farming became profitable that slavery began to become entrenched in the Chesapeake. The cultivation of this labor intensive cash crop dramatically increased the need for agricultural workers. Slowly, the capture, sale, and enslavement of Africans began to meet this labor shortage. As a result, the population of blacks in the region rose, and in turn, racial separation became part of the legal code. The social and economic condition of Africans in Virginia gradually evolved from apparent equality into one of separation and degradation as their rights were stripped away.
Within the first two decades of settlement in colonial Virginia, Africans were degraded by and separated from whites. An investigation of 17th century sources reveals that although freed blacks were among early settlers and landowners in the Chesapeake, they were never treated as equals with whites. Early on, documents reveal that Africans were only referred to as “Negors” or “Negroes”, but not by their proper or full names. A differentiation based on race was becoming law. By the mid-1600s, as more black slaves were imported and put to work in the area, deeper segregation of whites and blacks was legislated. Laws regulating white-black relationships and slave owners’ behavior further illustrated the worsening treatment of Africans. Race was the first division between blacks and whites, and the growth of slavery exacerbated this division. The treatment of Africans in colonial Virginia was never good, but as slavery became entrenched, their status in society plummeted.