Virginia’s Act III: Baptism Does Not Exempt Slaves from Bondage

(1667)

Please purchase for access to the document text and study guide

In 1667 in Jamestown, Virginia, the House of Burgesses approved a statute, Act III: Baptism Does Not Exempt Slaves from Bondage, that answered the following query: Does the conferring of the Christian sacrament of baptism in any way change the legal status of a slave? The legislators ruled that baptism did not alter a slave’s legal status. Their decision, when added to certain previous rulings made concerning the colony’s enslaved blacks, revealed a distinct pattern of behavior....