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Primary Sources on the Origins of Colonial Slavery

            Robert Beverley's "The History and Present State of Virginia"," is important to the study of the origins of slavery as the first published history of a British colony by a native of North America. It is unique in its provision of information on early life in colonial Virginia, and could provide useful testimony from his access to official records as an authoritative figure. Beverley had accumulated much influence and wealth as the owner of a prominent plantation, and as a government official representing Virginia in England. Though he was in England at the time of writing, his preoccupation with the colonies image poses more of an issue. .
             The ignorance and prejudice he encountered in England motivated him to correct the "strangely cruel1 " reputation American servitude had. As an ambitious planter, Beverley deplored the "heavy impositions "2 put upon colonists by the English crown and used outspoken Americanism to celebrate Virginia's quality of governance in rebuke. Undoubtedly, Beverley used the work as an "advertisement ", to increase the dwindling servant immigration to Virginia giving the work a political bias in portraying the institution as benign. However, this negatively impacts the sources usefulness as it distances itself from the reality for slaves and servants. .
             Bible extracts, used alongside a primary source, give important understanding of the ideological pressures operating in the period. However, the context of the source's production is in many ways hard to pinpoint. As an ancient text of over 3000 years old, with various authors in different places across 1,600 years, the exact facts of authorship are obviously contested. Its content and order has subsequently changed many times over the ages to reflect the political agenda of the church. The author of both the excerpts used is thought to be Moses by biblical scholars, however there is no absolute proof. However, inherent to its nature as a text as the foundation of Christianity is its reliance on Christians to accept the word as God's unquestionable divine truth.

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