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The first mention of slavery in the statutes of the English [#permalink]
22 May 2009, 00:11
The first mention of slavery in the statutes of the English colonies of North America does not occur until after 1660—some forty years after the importation of the first Black people. Lest we think that slavery existed in fact before it did in law, Oscar and Mary Handlin assure us that the status of Black people down to the 1660’s was that of servants. A critique of the Handlins’ interpretation of why legal slavery did not appear until the 1660’s suggests that assumptions about the relation between slavery and racial prejudice should be reexamined, and that explanations for the different treatment of Black slaves in North and South America should be expanded. The Handlins explain the appearance of legal slavery by arguing that, during the 1660’s, the position of White servants was improving relative to that of Black servants. Thus, the Handlins contend, Black and White servants, heretofore treated alike, each attained a different status. There are, however, important objections to this argument. First, the Handlins cannot adequately demonstrate that the White servant’s position was improving during and after the 1660’s; several acts of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures indicate otherwise. Another flaw in the Handlins’ interpretation is their assumption that prior to the establishment of legal slavery there was no discrimination against Black people. It is true that before the 1660’s Black people were rarely called slaves. But this should not overshadow evidence from the 1630’s on that points to racial discrimination without using the term slavery. Such discrimination sometimes stopped short of lifetime servitude or inherited status—the two attributes of true slavery—yet in other cases it included both. The Handlins’ argument excludes the real possibility that Black people in the English colonies were never treated as the equals of White people. This possibility has important ramifications. If from the outset Black people were discriminated against, then legal slavery should be viewed as a reflection and an extension of racial prejudice rather than, as many historians including the Handlins have argued, the cause of prejudice. In addition, the existence of discrimination before the advent of legal slavery offers a further explanation for the harsher treatment of Black slaves in North than in South America. Freyre and Tannenbaum have rightly argued that the lack of certain traditions in North America—such as a Roman conception of slavery and a Roman Catholic emphasis on equality—explains why the treatment of Black slaves was more severe there than in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies of South America. But this cannot be the whole explanation since it is merely negative, based only on a lack of something. A more compelling explanation is that the early and sometimes extreme racial discrimination in the English colonies helped determine the particular nature of the slavery that followed. 21. Which of the following statements best describes the organization of lines 1-8 of the passage? (A) A historical trend is sketched and an exception to that trend is cited. (B) Evidence for a historical irregularity is mentioned and a generalization from that evidence is advanced. (C) A paradox about the origins of an institution is pointed out and the author’s explanation of the paradox is expounded. (D) A statement about a historical phenomenon is offered and a possible misinterpretation of that statement is addressed. (E) An interpretation of the rise of an institution is stated and evidence for that interpretation is provided. 22. Which of the following is the most logical inference to be drawn from the passage about the effects of “several acts of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures” (lines 22-23) passed during and after the 1660’s? (A) The acts negatively affected the pre-1660’s position of Black as well as of White servants. (B) The acts had the effect of impairing rather than improving the position of White servants relative to what it had been before the 1660’s. (C) The acts had a different effect o n the position of White servants than did many of the acts passed during this time by the legislatures of other colonies. (D) The acts, at the very least, caused the position of White servants to remain no better than it had been before the 1660’s. (E) The acts, at the very least, tended to reflect the attitudes toward Black servants that already existed before the 1660’s. 23. With which of the following statements regarding the status of Black people in the English colonies of North America before the 1660’s would the author be LEAST likely to agree? (A) Although Black people were not legally considered to be slaves, they were often called slaves. (B) Although subject to some discrimination, Black people had a higher legal status than they did after the 1660’s. (C) Although sometimes subject to lifetime servitude, Black people were not legally considered to be slaves. (D) Although often not treated the same as White people, Black people, like many White people, possessed the legal status of servants. (E) Although apparently subject to more discrimination after 1630 than before 1630, Black people from 1620 to the 1660’s were legally considered to be servants. 24. According to the passage, the Handlins have argued which of the following about the relationship between racial prejudice and the institution of legal slavery in the English colonies of North America? (A) Racial prejudice and the institution of slavery arose simultaneously. (B) Racial prejudice most often took the form of the imposition of inherited status, one of the attributes of slavery. (C) The source of racial prejudice was the institution of slavery. (D) Because of the influence of the Roman Catholic church, racial prejudice sometimes did not result in slavery. (E) Although existing in a lesser form before the 1660’s, racial prejudice increased sharply after slavery was legalized. 25. The passage suggests that the existence of a Roman conception of slavery in Spanish and Portuguese colonies had the effect of (A) extending rather than causing racial prejudice in these colonies (B) hastening the legalization of slavery in these colonies (C) mitigating some of the conditions of slavery for Black people in these colonies (D) delaying the introduction of slavery into the English colonies (E) bringing about an improvement in the treatment of Black slaves in the English colonies 26. The author considers the explanation put forward by Freyre and Tannenbaum for the treatment accorded Black slaves in the English colonies of North America to be (A) ambitious but misguided (B) valid but limited (C) popular but suspect (D) anachronistic and controversial (E) premature and illogical 27. With which of the following statements regarding the reason for the introduction of legal slavery in the English colonies of North America would the author be most likely to agree? (A) The introduction is partly to be explained by reference to the origins of slavery, before the 1660’s, in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. (B) The introduction is to be explained by reference to a growing consensus beginning in the 1630’s about what were the attributes of true slavery. (C) The introduction is more likely to be explained by reference to a decline than to an improvement in the position of White servants in the colonies during and after the 1660’s. (D) The introduction is more likely to be explained by reference to the position of Black servants in the colonies in the 1630’s than by reference to their position in the 1640’s and 1650’s. (E) The introduction is more likely to be explained by reference to the history of Black people in the colonies before 1660 than by reference to the improving position of White servants during and after the 1660’s.
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