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An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves, 1705

Context

This act from 1705 dictates that if a slave resists his or her master and then the master kills he or she in the act of punishing or correcting them, then the master shall not be held accountable for the slave’s death. Also, it states that even free non-white citizens of Virginia could be punished for “raising a hand” against a white citizen.

Citation:Statutes at large of Virginia (1619-1808), Compiled by William Waller Hening, 1809, call number KFV2425.2 1619, Manuscripts & Special Collections, The Library of Virginia, Richmond.

Standards

VS.4

VUS.2, VUS.3

GOVT.3

Suggested Questions

Analyze: Under what circumstances does this law justify killing a slave?

Analyze: If attacked, may an African American defend him or herself? Does his or her status as free or enslave matter? 

Analyze: The qualification of being identified as "Christian" is part of this act; why do you think that was important in the context of the times?

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