Northam is actually correct. Unsurprisingly, he knows a bit more about early Virginia history than those outside the state.
“Historically, the English only enslaved non-Christians, and not, in particular, Africans. And the status of slave (Europeans had African slaves prior to the colonization of the Americas) was not one that was life-long. A slave could become free by converting to Christianity. The first Virginia colonists did not even think of themselves as “white” or use that word to describe themselves. They saw themselves as Christians or Englishmen, or in terms of their social class. They were nobility, gentry, artisans, or servants.
“One of the few recorded histories of an African in America that we can glean from early court records is that of “Antonio the negro,” as he was named in the 1625 Virginia census. He was brought to the colony in 1621. At this time, English and Colonial law did not define racial slavery; the census calls him not a slave but a “servant.” Later, Antonio changed his name to Anthony Johnson, married an African American servant named Mary, and they had four children. Mary and Anthony also became free, and he soon owned land and cattle and even indentured servants of his own. By 1650, Anthony was still one of only 400 Africans in the colony among nearly 19,000 settlers. In Johnson’s own county, at least 20 African men and women were free, and 13 owned their own homes....
“...In 1641, Massachusetts became the first colony to legally recognize slavery. Other states, such as Virginia, followed. In 1662, Virginia decided all children born in the colony to a slave mother would be enslaved. Slavery was not only a life-long condition; now it could be passed, like skin color, from generation to generation.”
I'd like to find some way to rub this into those "Holier Than Thou" hippies' faces.
This is only partially correct; the blacks had not voluntarily signed on, they were actually pirated from a slave ship.
Virginia had no active slave trade, but the black angolans were used to barter for provisions.
There are questions about whether the Virginian’s who were part of this trade saw the men as “slaves”, or even as “black”. But from the Angolan perspective, they were slaves, forcibly removed from their country.
They simply were less oppressed, having been “rescued” by the pirates and relocated to a slightly more hospitable group of people than where they were being taken.
They also weren’t the first blacks to be forcibly brought to this country, or to virginia.