Alpert, Jonathan L.
"The Origin of Slavery in the United States: The Maryland Precedent." American Journal of Legal History
14 (1970): 189-222.
Annotations / Notes: Maryland was the "first province in English North America to recognize slavery as a matter of law" (189). Therefore, the study of Maryland is useful for historians studying how American slavery was a product of the law. Early legislation recognized the existence of slavery, for while indentured servitude and slavery co-existed, and the terms were used interchangeably, the law still distinguished between the two. "All slaves were servants but not all servants were slaves" (193). However, it wasn't until 1664 when a statue was created which established slavery as hereditary. This statute was the first law in English North American to thus establish this type of slavery, legalizing what had been de facto since 1639. The author concludes that laws reflect the attitudes of a society and the manner in which societal problems are resolved. In the case of Maryland, servant problems could be avoided by replacing indentured servitude with perpetual slavery.