The Curse of Canaan (or Ham)

The explanation that black Africans, as the “sons of Ham”, were cursed, possibly “blackened” by their sins, became increasingly common during the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries.

When we were investigating some aspects of black history this year at church, I was intrigued by the fact that, for a time in the mid-17th century, slavery based on race wasn’t really codified in the United States. There were white indentured servants and black slaves, but the former were often given ever-changing terms of servitude, making them functionally little better off than slaves.

In the 1670s, Bacon’s Rebellion “demonstrated that poor whites and poor blacks could be united in a cause. This was a great fear of the ruling class — what would prevent the poor from uniting to fight them? This fear hastened the transition to racial slavery.”

The status of blacks in Virginia slowly changed over the last half of the 17th century. Continue reading “The Curse of Canaan (or Ham)”