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Views On Slavery By Higginbotham, Jr.,Winthrop D. Jordan, And Edmund S. Morgan

2002 words - 9 pages

A Leon Higginbotham Jr.’s argument in The Ancestry of Inferiority (1619-1662), is that the people of Virginia had already began to think of black people, be it they were free or indentured servants, as inferior to themselves before slavery was institutionalized. The Colonist’s had already begun to strategize legalities in regards on how black people were to be disciplined. Higginbotham has two reasons why Africans were not afforded the same liberties as that of the white indentured servants in Virginia. The first reason he states is that the majority of white indentured servants came to Virginia on their own free will. Once they had completed their five or seven-year contract with their master, they were free to buy land and begin working for themselves. Unlike the African’s that he claims were brought here against their will or for desperation. The second reasoning is that the English thought that the black represented evil or danger and because African’s skin coloring was black, they must be evil. Higginbotham offers a couple of examples representing just how the English prior to the actual term of slavery being used, were already creating a racial difference in the judicial system. From court cases that he has reviewed, he states one must find what the case is not saying verses what it is. When the English identified people with names the only time skin color was not used in context is when that person was a white person. Another case he made use of is a good example of black inferiority to white superiority in the early 17th century is in the case In Re Graweere, 1641. The court made certain that a particular African father had no value in society when attempting to get his child back. However, because his son was baptized a Christian and the child’s Godfather which happened to be the man’s master was white, the court without actually coming out and saying it, implied that his master is much more capable of caring and educating the child than the child’s own biological father.
Higginbotham’s, The Ancestry of Inferiority is a social history. He does not exactly use the word racism in his essay, however in a roundabout way it is exactly what he is referring to. White man is racist and therefore has no scruples on their treatment of inferiority to African’s than to another person. This essay slightly hinges on diplomatic history as well. The courts in Virginia, either not realizing it or perhaps thinking ahead to the future, were already framing the ground rules to ensure the African’s were going to know their place in society. He clearly outlines four cases from Virginia that he states must be clearly comprehended and read in between the lines to understand when black inferiority came into existence. Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia and especially quoting Thomas Jefferson from the Notes of the State of Virginia, are just a couple of sources that Higginbotham has referenced for this essay. He...

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