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The Barbados Slave Code of 1661, officially titled as An Act for the better ordering and governing of Negroes, was a law passed by the colonial Englishlegislature to provide a legal basis for slavery in the Caribbean island of Barbados. It is the first comprehensive Slave Act, and the code's preamble, which stated that the law's purpose was to "protect them [slaves] as we do men's other goods and Chattels", established that black slaves would be treated as chattel property in the island's court.
The slave code described black people as 'an heathenish, brutish and an uncertaine, dangerous kinde of people'.
The Barbados slave code ostensibly sought to protect slaves from cruel masters ("the Negroes and other Slaves be well provided for, and guarded from the Cruelties and Insolences of themselves or other ill-tempered People or Owners") and masters (and "any Christian") from unruly slaves; in practice, it provided extensive protections for masters, but not for slaves. The law required masters to provide each slave with one set of clothing per year, but it set no standards for slaves' diet, housing, or working conditions. It denied slaves, as chattels, even the basic rights of people guaranteed under English common law, such as the right to life. It allowed the slaves' owners to do entirely as they wished to their slaves for anything considered a misdeed, including mutilating them and burning them alive, without fear of reprisal. For example, if an African person acted violently against an English person the law stipulated that they should be "severely whipped", have "his or her nose slit and shall be burnt in the face", while the next offence shall be "punished by death". However, "if any Man shall of wantonness, or only of Bloody Mindedness, or Cruel Intention, willfully kill a Negro or other Slave of his own, he shall pay into the Publick Treasury ... if he shall so kill another Man's, He shall pay to the Owner of the Negro, double the Value, and into the Publick Treasury ... And he shall further by the next Justice of the Peace, be bound to the good Behaviour".
The Barbados Assembly reenacted the slave code, with minor modifications, in 1676 titled as "A Supplemental Act to a Former Act for the Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes", 1682, and 1688 titled as "An Act for the Governing of Negroes".The slave codes (not digitised) are available at The National Archives. The laws of colonial Barbados to 1699, including those comprising the Slave Code, were collected in a book available online, The laws of Barbados collected in one volume by William Rawlin, of the Middle-Temple. In particular No. 329 details the 1688 Act (the entry for the original 1661 Act, No. 57, reads only "Repealed by Act 330"—an error, actually 329).
"No person of the Hebrew Nation residing in any Sea-Port Town of this Island, shall keep or employ any Negro or other Slave ... for any Use or Service whatsoever."
In 2021 the British Library digitised and made public 19th-century newspapers of Barbados (the originals remaining on the island) hoping that the public would help to find information about individual slaves on the island; names and descriptions were only made known for slaves who revolted or escaped, and are lost to history unless recorded in newspapers.
Throughout British North America, slavery evolved in practice before it was codified into law. The Barbados slave code of 1661 marked the beginning of the legal codification of slavery. According to historian Russell Menard, "Since Barbados was the first English colony to write a comprehensive slave code, its code was especially influential."
The Barbados slave code served as the basis for the slave codes adopted in several other British colonies, including Jamaica (1664), South Carolina (1696), Georgia, and Antigua (1702). In other colonies where the codes are not an exact copy, such as Virginia and Maryland, the influence of the Barbadian codes can be traced throughout various provisions.
The legal basis for slavery was established in Mexico in 1636. These statutes created the status of chattel slave for those of African descent, i.e. they were slaves for life and the status of slave was inherited. Slave status passed to children through the mother in these statutes. Virginia's 1662 statute reads, "All children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother."
The Barbados slave code, named An Act for Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes, (1661) was promoted on the island, ostensibly, to standardize procedures for managing the island's increasing slave population, which had tripled since 1640.
"If any Negro or slave whatsoever shall offer any violence to any Christian by striking or any other form of violence, such Negro or slave shall for his or her first offence be severely whipped by the Constable.
For his second offence of that nature he shall be severely whipped, his nose slit, and be burned in some part of his face with a hot iron. And being brutish slaves, [they] deserve not, for the baseness of their condition, to be tried by the legal trial of twelve men of their peers, as the subjects of England are.
And it is further enacted and ordained that if any Negro or other slave under punishment by his master unfortunately shall suffer in life or member, which seldom happens, no person whatsoever shall be liable to any fine therefore."
Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person, while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made to perform some form of work while also having their location dictated by the slaver. Historically, when people were enslaved, it was often because they were indebted, or broke the law, or suffered a military defeat, and the duration of their enslavement was either for life or for a fixed period of time after which freedom was granted. Individuals, then, usually became slaves involuntarily, due to force or coercion, although there was also voluntary slavery to pay a debt or obtain money for some purpose. In the course of human history, slavery was a typical feature of civilization, and legal in most societies, but it is now outlawed in all countries of the world, except as punishment for crime.
Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end slavery. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the Atlantic slave trade and liberate the enslaved people.
Slavery in the colonial history of the United States, from 1526 to 1776, developed from complex factors, and researchers have proposed several theories to explain the development of the institution of slavery and of the slave trade. Slavery strongly correlated with the European colonies' demand for labor, especially for the labor-intensive plantation economies of the sugar colonies in the Caribbean and South America, operated by Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Dutch Republic.
The slave codes were laws relating to slavery and enslaved people, specifically regarding the Atlantic slave trade and chattel slavery in the Americas.
Sugar plantations in the Caribbean were a major part of the economy of the islands in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Most Caribbean islands were covered with sugar cane fields and mills for refining the crop. The main source of labor, until the abolition of chattel slavery, was enslaved Africans. After the abolition of slavery, indentured laborers from India, China, Portugal and other places were brought to the Caribbean to work in the sugar industry. These plantations produced 80 to 90 percent of the sugar consumed in Western Europe, later supplanted by European-grown sugar beet.
In the British colonies in North America and in the United States before the abolition of slavery in 1865, free Negro or free Black described the legal status of African Americans who were not enslaved. The term was applied both to formerly enslaved people (freedmen) and to those who had been born free.
Slavery in the British and French Caribbean refers to slavery in the parts of the Caribbean dominated by France or the British Empire.
Slavery in the Spanish American colonies was an economic and social institution which existed throughout the Spanish Empire including Spain itself. In its American territories, Spain displayed an early abolitionist stance towards indigenous people although Native American slavery continued to be practiced, particularly until the New Laws of 1543. The Spanish empire, however was involved in the enslavement people of African origin. Although the Spanish themselves played a very minor role in the Atlantic slave trade compared to other European empires, in absolute terms, the Spanish Empire was a major recipient of African slaves, with around 22% of the Africans delivered to American shores ending up in the Spanish Empire.
Barbadian nationality law is regulated by 1966 Constitution of Barbados, as amended; the Barbados Citizenship Act, as amended; and various British Nationality laws. These laws determine who is, or is eligible to be, a national of Barbados. Barbadian nationality is typically obtained under the rules of jus sanguinis, i.e. by birth to a father or in some cases, a mother, with Barbadian nationality. It can also be granted to persons with an affiliation to the country, or to a permanent resident who has lived in the country for a given period of time through naturalisation. There is currently no program in Barbados for citizenship by investment, though they do have a special work visa program. Nationality establishes one's international identity as a member of a sovereign nation. Though it is not synonymous with citizenship, rights granted under domestic law for domestic purposes, the United Kingdom, and thus the commonwealth, has traditionally used the words interchangeably.
Slavery at common law in the British Empire developed slowly over centuries, and was characterised by inconsistent decisions and varying rationales for the treatment of slavery, the slave trade, and the rights of slaves and slave owners. Unlike in its colonies, within the home islands of Britain, until 1807, except for statutes facilitating and taxing the international slave trade, there was virtually no legislative intervention in relation to slaves as property, and accordingly the common law had something of a "free hand" to develop, untrammeled by the "paralysing hand of the Parliamentary draftsmen".
The Yorke–Talbot slavery opinion was a legal opinion issued by two Crown law officers in 1729 relating to the legality of slavery under English law.
Proslavery is an ideology that perceives slavery as a positive good or an otherwise morally acceptable institution.
Slave Trade Act is a stock short title used for legislation in the United Kingdom and the United States that relates to the slave trade.
Slavery in Great Britain existed prior to the Roman occupation and until the 12th century, when chattel slavery disappeared, at least for a time, following the Norman Conquest. Former indigenous slaves merged into the larger body of serfs in Britain and no longer were recognised separately in law or custom.
When the Dutch and Swedes established colonies in the Delaware Valley of what is now Pennsylvania, in North America, they quickly imported African slaves for workers; the Dutch also transported them south from their colony of New Netherland. Slavery was documented in this area as early as 1639. William Penn and the colonists who settled Pennsylvania tolerated slavery, but the English Quakers and later German immigrants were among the first to speak out against it. Many colonial Methodists and Baptists also opposed it on religious grounds. During the Great Awakening of the late 18th century, their preachers urged slaveholders to free their slaves. High British tariffs in the 18th century discouraged the importation of additional slaves, and encouraged the use of white indentured servants and free labor.
The Code Noir was a decree passed by the French King Louis XIV in 1685 defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire. The decree restricted the activities of free people of color, mandated the conversion of all enslaved people throughout the empire to Roman Catholicism, defined the punishments meted out to slaves, and ordered the expulsion of all Jews from France's colonies.
The Indian Slavery Act, 1843, also known as Act V of 1843, was an act passed in British India under East India Company rule, which outlawed many economic transactions associated with slavery.
John Punch was an enslaved African who lived in the colony of Virginia. Thought to have been an indentured servant, Punch attempted to escape to Maryland and was sentenced in July 1640 by the Virginia Governor's Council to serve as a slave for the remainder of his life. Two European men who ran away with him received a lighter sentence of extended indentured servitude. For this reason, some historians consider John Punch the "first official slave in the English colonies," and his case as the "first legal sanctioning of lifelong slavery in the Chesapeake." Some historians also consider this to be one of the first legal distinctions between Europeans and Africans made in the colony, and a key milestone in the development of the institution of slavery in the United States.
Abolitionism in the United Kingdom was the movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to end the practice of slavery, whether formal or informal, in the United Kingdom, the British Empire and the world, including ending the Atlantic slave trade. It was part of a wider abolitionism movement in Western Europe and the Americas.
South Carolina established its first slave code in 1695. The code was based on the 1684 Jamaica slave code, which was in turn based on the 1661 Barbados slave code. The South Carolina slave code was the model for other North American colonies. Georgia adopted the South Carolina code in 1770, and Florida adopted the Georgia code.