Maryland General Assembly
In the September 1664 session of Maryland's General
Assembly, attending delegates passed an act changing the history of African
Americans in the State of Maryland. "An Act Concerning Negroes and other
Slaves," officially defined the legal classification of African Americans
in Maryland by stating, "All Negroes and other slaves to bee hereafter
imported into the Province shall serve Durante Vita And all Children
born of any Negro or other slaves shall be Slaves as their fathers were
for the terms of their Hues." The importance of this act is twofold. First,
it declared that all imported people classified as a "Negro" would be
legally defined as a slave, serving for the duration of their lives.
Secondly, the act indirectly pronounces that all African Americans who
came to Maryland were not necessarily slaves prior to the passing of
this act. Since the founding of Maryland in 1634, African Americans occupied
social classes of slaves, indentured servants, as well as free men and women.
It would take two-hundred years for slavery in Maryland to abolish slavery,
with the passage of the 1864 Constitution.
Copyright November 18, 2005 Maryland State Archives