“An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards,” December 1662

“ That all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother” (1)

During this time of colonization many Englishmen in Virginia were engaging in sexual activities with the slaves and natives, due to the fact that there was a shortage of Englishwoman in America, and the increase of diseases killing everyone off. However, with sex led to childbirth and then the question arose of what the status of the child would be if it was from a prestigious Englishman and someone non-European.  At this time “black” and “white” were not what was used to divide, it was the “Europeans” and then everyone else who were considered below them, this is the time where racial hierarchies began to emerge.  In this specific law it was decided that the status of the child was dependent on the status of the mother.  Women had no rights or claims in property, specifically women of color, but as soon as it relates to something that could hurt them and benefit the white community, that situation changes.  It shows the injustices that occurred based on racial differences, that the women had no claim over their body yet it dictated the future of their child.  The black women were constantly being used as “both productive– from candle making to soap making to churning butter– and reproductive, generating the labor force that would assist in sustaining”(2) and those two tasks were their primary goals, nothing else mattered about them, until it became a matter of what status their children was, then their oppression was used as a means to control them further.

  1. “An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards,” December 16. Week 3, Lines 4-5
  2.  Berkin, Carol , ed. “Women in Colonial and Revolutionary America.” Clio in the     Classroom . Ed. Margaret Crocco and Barbara Winslow. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 12. Print.

2 thoughts on ““An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards,” December 1662

  1. Pingback: “Arm in Arm: Gender, Eugenics, and Virginia’s Racial Integrity Acts of the 1920s” | The Intersectionality of Oppression

  2. Pingback: The Intersectionality of Oppression Introduction | The Intersectionality of Oppression

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