Just Like Your Mama: Slave Laws that Choked the Life and Freedom Out of Black Children

0 Posted by - December 23, 2017 - LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

By Angela L. Braden

While researching my family history, I learned that my 4th grandfather, Dudley Braden, was born “free” because his mother was a white woman.  When Dudley was born circa 1823, the law in Kentucky, as well as other slave states, declared that negro and mulatto children born of a slave woman would carry the same status as their mother.  If the child’s father was free, it didn’t matter.  The child would be declared a slave because his mother was a slave.  If the child’s mother was free, then the child would be declared free.

The creation of laws that declared children of female slaves and indentured servants first popped up in Virginia as early as 1662.  The state passed a law declaring that the children of female slaves and servants would carry the status of their mother.  In addition, the law punished white men and women, who had “se*ual relations” with a negro.

“WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children born in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a Negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.”

Prior to 1662, the colonies followed the practice of Great Britain, whose system endorsed the idea that children should claim their lineage through their fathers, even If the birth could not be deemed legitimate.

When the laws were created to force children of female slaves into slavery, the continuance of slavery was strengthen, even after the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was abolished.  The male slave master and his male children boosted the value of their property by impregnating their slave girls and women.  Countless mulatto/mixed race babies were born into slavery simply because their mothers, who were slaves, were raped and impregnated by their vicious, greedy slave owners.

There are countless reports of slave women that murdered their children, simply because they did not want their children to live a life of slavery.  However, the rape of female slaves persisted through several centuries, producing thousands and thousands of mixed race slaves: some of which that even looked as white as their white slave owners.

There are a number of rare occurrences of slave owners having consensual relations with their female slaves.  However, most of the mixed race blacks were produced by vicious rapes and consistent violations of female slaves that were of childbearing age.

Back to Dudley Braden…  Although he was a free man of color in Kentucky, when he married the love of his life, Ann Burton, a beautiful woman, who was the slave property of David and Suzanna Hayden, he had to accept that his children would be the property of the Haydens.  It didn’t matter that Dudley was free.  His wife and children were the property of someone else.  And those slave owners had the authority to govern the lives of Ann and the young children of Dudley and Ann.

Sadly, ten years into their marriage, Ann and the children were sold by The Haydens to a family in Louisiana.  I’m sure Dudley felt crushed and helpless.  He couldn’t save his wife and children from the bloody, unforgiving grip of slavery.  His status as a free man of color could not protect his wife and children.  I’m sure this was a major blow to Dudley’s confidence as a man, husband, and father.



  • Cheryl December 8, 2016 - 10:34 am Reply

    Interestingly enough, there were many Irish people captured and brought to the US as slaves as well. Many of the pics that are labled as black slave children are actually irish white children. They were slaves in exactly the same way as the poor black slaves. Treated in the very same way. Weird to think ideas developed into black and white issue. They were all enslaved by those that were British. Slavery is all around the world and is or has been in many, many cultures. Both black and white. All through time. It is a terrible result of the evil human condition. It is about power rather than compassion. Seeking to manipulate and use other humans. Simply for money or personal gratification. God help us all!!

  • Sonia July 25, 2017 - 12:24 pm Reply

    True Cheryl, but unfortunately the legacy of black slavery and demonisation continues today. It’s connotations are still felt in subtle and blatant wats- from many races believing lighter skinned among them are better than darker, to media, advertising and literature. Some ignorant in the world still judge based on skin colour- and I’m applying that to all races/ ethnicities

  • Cynthia Thomas June 28, 2020 - 10:44 pm Reply

    “They were slaves in exactly the same way as the poor black slaves. Treated in the very same way. Weird to think ideas developed into black and white issue”. This is not a fact! If you truly believe this to be true and care to know the truth, I urge you to look a bit deeper. White slaves were considered humans and treated as servants. Black slaves were considered property and treated as such or worse as animals.

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