Last Updated on August 20, 2015 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
Although in the early years, poor indentured servant Whites (convicts, prostitutes, religious dissidents, the wayward), from Europe were a major labor source for tobacco, rice and indigo farms, this dwindled away by the end of C17—partly because they were always troublesome workers. They quarreled with masters over the contract conditions and many filed lawsuits. Hence, although the Black population in Virginia was only about 500 up to 1660, thereafter social pressures driving the lower classes out of England diminished, and the average residual life span of these newly arrived lengthened, thanks to the improvement of living and medical standards. Changes in labor market conditions made the purchase of Enslaved Africans more profitable. How slavers were to treat the Enslaved had a defining moment by 1660 when colonial Europeans revived Enslaved practices of their ancient Greek ancestors. The essence concept was that anyone who allowed themselves to be Enslaved were mentally weak, subhuman, and like mechanical beings. As a result, their purpose as Slaves is to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work of civilization’s daily life, since otherwise Greek contemplation and culture would be almost impossible. Europeans focus on being able to glorify leisure meant generating situations of Enslaved labor to make them rich. The high price included: (1) an incompatibility of achieving an even average level intellect and their Indifference/Hate/Evil/Sadism mindset; (2) tolerating always being fearful; and, (3) for the tiny few Europeans having a trace shadow of a “Religious” Conscience meant handling those burdens of what would likely happen regarding whatever “morals” they thought they had + Anxieties (an inability to decide which way to go or which way things will go) + being chained by Worries (much mental activity centered on variables beyond ones control) + being inadequate as humans + resultant self-hate.
In order to gain a tow-rope to grasp, in hopes of lessening their inner instability, they were intent on destroying the minds and Selfhood of the Enslaved they were rearing so as to be “Zombies” (a Haitian Creole term for those in a “walking coma” state). In rummaging through classical Greek and Roman literature to get ideas for building the “Big House” on plantations, the slave owners came upon useful information. One was the certainty of the Enslaved being property objects. For more than 3000 years, the legal characteristics of bondage, which regard an Enslaved as chattel property, have changed very little. It is common in the field of history, however, that actual human relations or economic status substantially varied within the same legal form. Also, routinely proprietary claims and powers were made to apply on those clearly not Enslaved. Hence, this served as justification for enslaving Free Blacks. Furthermore, they learned that those Medieval West-European jurists who had rediscovered the Roman law, regarded serfs as property of landlords and were similarly subjected to purchase and sale like the Enslaved. Yet, these Serfs were immovable. Still another point was that although at the extreme case of C18 Russia, serfs were legally chattel. That these concepts persisted throughout slavery was seen up to 1975 in USA professional athletes–being objects of property that could be bought and sold, even against their will. What separated them from being Enslaved was only for the difference in the relative power of the partners concerned and the origins of the relationships between them and the team owners.
Before the time of Black slavery, Servants were Virginia’s most valued form of property. It was noted in 1648 that servants were “more advantageous… than any other commodities” for importation from England. Meanwhile, to cement the Enslavement of Africans, in 1662, the rule of the ius gentium (‘what natural reason has established’) was adopted—dictating any child born in the colony took the status of the mother. In addition, since laws around this time voided Baptism as a reason for manumission, in 1667, an act was passed declaring baptism does not change the status of an Enslaved—a reflection of the uneasiness in their also being Christians. The more Americanized African descendants became, the more the convenient self-interest biblical Pauline doctrine (contrary to Jesus’ teachings) of obedience to slavers as a Christian duty was imported to the plantation and the colonies by means of other non-King James European Bibles.