Washington’s “colonial statute” reasoning for denying liberty to 500,000 Revolutionary War-era blacks under the Definitive Treaty of Peace in 1783 led to America’s dehumanization of countless men, women, and children, and it was done cleareyed in pursuit of their ideals of a “more perfect union.” America failed to grant due process to black Englishmen, authorized by international law. England’s Magna Carta of 1215 and common law had long declared “one may be a villien in England, but not a slave.” This was the reason why the first 19 Africans arriving unto the colony of Virginia’s shores were indentured servants, not slaves, in 1619.
Slavery was never approved and authorized by the laws of England, and colonial governments were bound to adhere to English law by colonial charter. No one was above or below English law, and no Englishman could be born a slave. Further, colonial assemblies committed a serious crime when they purported to pass slave statute and laws with securing the King’s permission under the Sedition Act of 1661 and the Royal Assent by Commission of 1541. Virginia’s legislative assembly, House of Burgesses, had no legal authority when they purported to enact a slavery statute in 1661, and in 1662 then purported to pass the hereditary statute of partus sequitur ventrem that could impose lifetime bondage on colonial-born people based upon the legal status of the mother. Virginia’s legislative assembly did not have plenary power or authority to authorize colonial slavery or to vary any English law.
Virginia’s legislative assembly was bicameral, and all statutes required the permission of England’s monarchy to be a valid statute. Virginia’s colonial slave statutes were “repugnant” to the English law that prohibited slavery and partus sequitur patrem… a patrilineal descent system. Furthermore, Virginia’s colonial charter forbade the enactment of colonial statutes at odds with English law. Virginia’s colonial charter’s repugnancy provision and failure to secure the King’s permission prevented the slave statute in 1661 and the hereditary slave statute of partus sequitur ventrem in 1662 from becoming lawfully promulgated colonial statutes. Nonetheless, due to corrupt colonial government officials in the colony of Virginia, the slave statutes operated extralegally in Virginia. Soon, this slavery scheme was emulated by nearly all other colonial assemblies within British North American colonies. Slavery in colonial America was highly profitable, and it became endemic throughout the British colonies. Colonial statutes were not positive laws and could not authorize the enslavement of black colonists or Africans during colonial times.
Lastly, colonial slave statutes became “null and void” in 1766 when England’s Parliament passed the Declaratory Act of 1766, which legislatively avoided all colonial statutes, laws, and related regulations before rebellion had even sparked an ember. Moreover, the 1772 seminal decision of the Twelve Judges of England’s Court of the King’s Bench in the James Somerset v. Charles Stewart case established a Positive Law Framework for authorizing slavery within the Kingdom of Great Britain during colonial times… a legislative power that vested exclusively with Parliament. Further, this tribunal determined slavery was not “allowed and approved by the laws of this Kingdom.”
Objectively, the holding in the Somerset case applied in colonial America, as the litigation concerned the legality of “American Laws” and the substantive legislative consequence of the Declaratory Act of 1766 avoided all “American Laws” and did cause the 13 colonies in America to collectively condemn King George III “For taking our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments” in the Declaration of Independence. Black Englishmen were countrymen of the Patriots… not slaves, yet they and then their children became the bedrock of America’s slave-pool.