Early America Changed Its Laws To Enslave This Man

Indenture Certificate
Shonda Buchanan
February 5, 2021

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 farm! 

Thus Casor had entered a contract with another farmer to earn some extra money. But then the sheriff showed up.

Casor later told a judge that his original employer was trying to extend his contract unfairly. What was bought or sold was Casor’s contract, not himself!

But the judge revoked Casor’s contract and, for reasons unspecified, decided that Casor’s contract could be extended for the rest of his life – making him the first enslaved American. That ruling was perhaps the single most devastating pronouncement in Black 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 – thus beginning our long fight against institutional racism.

The legacy of that single act continues to reverberate into the present. We’re no longer enslaved – at least legally – but we must continue to fight unfair treatment of our people and demand justice, in Casor’s and all of our ancestors’ memory!

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