The First Legal Slave Owner Essay

The First Legal Slave Owner Essay

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On March 8, 1655, Anthony Johnson made history by becoming the first legal slave owner in America( Woodbridge 1999). How could Johnson, a former indentured servant and fellow african, force someone into lifelong servitude? This man was John Casor (Nicholson, 2015). In order to justify forcing this man into slavery, Johnson used relativism.

Brought to America in the early 1600s, Anthony Johnson arrived as an indentured servant to work under a master on a Virginia plantation. Although it is unclear when he gained his freedom, he used that freedom to acquire hundreds of acres for himself and his family. In order to maintain a prosperous tobacco field, he used indentured servants. One of these servants, John Casor, eventually would become the first recorded example of slavery in America. In 1654, Casor filed a complaint to the Northampton County Court. He claimed that his master, Anthony Johnson, unlawfully extended the terms of his service as an indentured servant to the point of becoming a lifelong slave. Finally, after a year of wrestling with the courts, Casor was given his ruling. His sentence was the very thing he was trying to fight. He would be returned to his master and be confined to servitude. In the years to come, slavery among black plantation owners grew all over America. So what reasoning did those free blacks have for wanting to enslave those whose position they were in at one time?

Moral-cultural relativism can explain this pattern of behavior. In moral-cultural relativism, morals are created by and apply only to people with a particular culture or community. Considering the time, free blacks still had many of the problems that black servants did. They were still looked down upon because of their color; howev...


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... to put someone, especially someone with a similar background, into slavery. Many of the black slave owners justified slavery as a way to keep their people away from unjust leaders, but they only did it so that they could have power. Considering Johnson, he placed Casor in slavery to prove he was a powerful man. I myself would feel tremendous sadness for those who came here to earn their freedom only for their freedom to be stripped away.

Anthony Johnson came to America as an indentured servant. Through his own will, he eventually became a powerful landowner who forced another indentured servant into America 's first example of slavery. Using Moral-cultural relativism, he justified the removal of a man 's freedom, so that he could fit in with the norms of the time. His actions would become the catalyst for hundreds of years of slavery among the black community.




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