Virginia’s Act XII: Negro Women’s Children to Serve according to the Condition of the Mother

(1662)

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In December 1662 the Virginia House of Burgesses met for the second time that year and approved a set of twenty-three statutes that focused on various facets of colonial life. The most infamous of these laws, Act XII: Negro Women’s Children to Serve according to the Condition of the Mother, made the civil status of African and African American slave women inheritable by their offspring. The burgesses, convened by the governor, Sir William Berkeley, and presided over by the speaker,...