required to work for the colony for an additional three years. John Punch, however, received a very different punishment: he would be required to serve Gwyn for the rest of his life, with no opportunity for freedom. This made John Punch the first known slave in Virginia.

DID YOU KNOW ? Slavery existed in every United States colony. By the time the American Revolution began in 1775, more than 20 percent of the population of the colonies was of African descent.

After 1640, the laws and customs of colonial Virginia began to change. As news Africans came to the colony, they were no longer treated the same as white indentured servants. Instead, they tended to be forced into lifelong servitude. Having slaves was much more profitable than for plantation owners than having indentured servants. While the slave owners did have to feed and house their slaves, they did not have to provide the other freedom dues at the end of their indenture, or look for new workers periodically. In 1661 the legislature of Virginia passed the first law that legally recognized slavery. The next year, the legislature passed another law that specifically stated that slavery was a lifelong condition that would be passed from generation to generation. Any child born to an enslaved woman would also be a slave. Over the next forty years, many other laws were passed in Virginia to restrict the rights of blacks and separate them from whites. The black indentured servant, with his hope of freedom, was being replaced by the black slave. In 1705, the Virginia General Assembly formally declared that all Africans imported into the colony would be slaves.



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