John Casor couldn’t believe the judge’s words. He’d already served out his contract as an indentured servant. So what was the problem?
Indentured servants of any race – if they survived the seven or so years of brutal labor during their contracts – earned freedom and the right to buy their own farms.
Casor entered a contract with another farmer to earn some extra money. But then things took a turn.
Casor eventually told a judge that his original employer was trying to extend his contract unfairly. What was bought or sold was Casor’s contract, not his actual body.
But the judge revoked Casor’s contract and decided that Casor’s contract could be extended for the rest of his life. This made Casor the first enslaved American. That ruling was perhaps the single most devastating pronouncement in history.
Casor, not his contract, was now enslaved for life as the farmer’s property. This egregious act sanctioned lifetime enslavement of Black people specifically to create a permanent labor class in America.
The legacy of that single act continues to reverberate into the present. We must continue to fight unfair treatment of our people and demand justice.