Interracial sexual contact likely peaked sometime during the early colonial Period, when white indentured servants and black slaves were in close contact in large numbers. The practice of keeping white indentured servants was on the decline and African slavery was on the rise, leading to a transitional period in which the two groups often lived and worked in close quarters. This interracial exposure at a time when folk ideologies of racial difference were still in their infancy probably produced the highest level of interracial sexual contact ever observed in this country. As Edmund S. Morgan notes, “It was common, for example, for servants and slaves to run away together, steal hogs together, and get drunk together. It was not uncommon for them to make love together.
We would like to believe that all people knew and understood the specialness of all races. But such was not the case. Because of the two laws, European men who wanted to marry African women fled to Maryland and European women who wanted to marry African men fled to Virginia
Who are the elites?
The rise of interracial sex led white elites to create ant miscegenation statutes in an effort to define boundaries between white servants and black slaves, whom slave-owners feared might band together in open rebellion. The children from such unions also posed a potential problem for the emerging racial system as elites grappled with a classification of people that would reinforce the institution of slavery. Efforts to reduce the level of interracial sex were assisted by a decline in the practice of white indentured servant hood, which increased the segregation of black slaves from white laborers. Some interracial sexual contact persisted, however, both on and off the plantation.
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