Servant and Slave Laws in VA

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The Virginia Servant and Slave laws were created to overcome one class of individuals to serve different. Black people were categorized as goods and could be executed at the impulse of their so-called owners. The demand presented was that the owner perceived that their slaves were disobedient. Sadly, the choice to define what disobedience involved was left to the master of the slave. This harsh law's historical importance can still be recognized today in the racially developed and divided America.
John Rapier, a black barber who lived in Florence, AL, remarked that white people in Alabama made a flag that declared 'White man, right or wrong is still the white man! (Roark, Johnson and Patricia 400)' the phrase showed how entitled the white male felt. The laws stated that 'punishment of refractory servants resisting their masters, mistress or overseer cannot be inflicted upon by negroes (Hening 3).' In short, the black people could not even be trusted to discipline themselves. The Union general Carl Shurz opined that whites in Alabama would soon introduce some new type of forced labor. It may not be slavery in its original form, but something very close to it is what he said (Roark, Johnson and Patricia 500).' The passage by the general shows that the racist whites liked slavery only because it afforded them cheap forced labor and that soon enough they would create a new system that would let them exploit the black labor force.

The goal of servants in a slave rebellion was to reclaim their dignity.As per the Virginia Servants ad Slave laws, it was aptly stated that 'a master cannot be held liable for a felony for killing a slave as 'it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice should induce any man to destroy his own estate (Hening 3).' Living a life where one had limited rights is demeaning as it elevated one section of the population above another. John Rapier 'purchased land in Kansas' and convinced his fellow former slaves to move as he was confident that Alabama held no promise for him and his people (Roark, Johnson and Patricia 499).
All in all the laws that demeaned the black man and woman to the role of chattels is the reason the country is still racially divided hundreds of years later. Although the laws were repealed and new rights have been passed both the black and white community carry scars from a bygone era.

Works Cited
Hening, William. The Statutes at Large. Jamestown Foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1819.
Roark, James, Michael Johnson and Cohen patricia. The American Promise. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2016.

August 09, 2021




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