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But, we have also seen evidence in the early tax laws and inventories that at least some black women were present in Maryland before 1664.While the 1664 law was important in giving legal definition to racial slavery, it was evidently inadequate to deal with the particular problem at which it was aimed, keeping Christian blacks as slaves.
The new law reaffirmed the precept laid down in the 1664 law that slavery was decided above all upon the distinction of race. have to the great displeasure of Almighty God and the prejudice of the Soules of those poore people [i.e., their slaves] Neglected to instruct them in the Christian faithe . He said that the opinion had been spreading throughout "many parts of America" that baptizing a slave was tantamount to freeing them.
But, the 1671 law reflected an ambivalent attitude toward the African-Americans. Conveniently ignoring the law's title, "An Act for the Encouraging the Importacion of Negroes and Slaves into this Province," Baltimore claimed its sole purpose was to "encourage the Baptizing" of slaves.
These figures suggest a preponderance of male slaves during a period considerably later than 1664.
More recent work by Russell Menard has shown convincingly that on Maryland's lower Western Shore, black males far outnumbered black females until well into the eighteenth century.
Observing that many planters were reluctant to see to the religious instruction of their slaves for fear of losing them upon their baptism and lamenting the reluctance of many to import new slaves for the same reason, the Assembly declared that baptism could in no way effect a black slave's status. In 1678, the Lords of Trade, apparently disturbed at the Assembly's departure from English law in allowing enslavement of Christians, called upon Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to account for the law.