At the time, most forced laborers on the plantations were indentured servants, and they were mostly European.Some historians have suggested that the at-the-time unprecedented laws banning "interracial" marriage were originally invented by planters as a divide-and-rule tactic after the uprising of European and African indentured servants in cases such as Bacon's Rebellion.In 1776, seven out of the Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence enforced laws against interracial marriage.
An exception was Pennsylvania, which repealed its anti-miscegenation law in 1780, together with some of the other restrictions placed on free blacks, when it enacted a bill for the gradual abolition of slavery in the state.
For the radical abolitionists who organized to oppose slavery in the 1830s, laws banning interracial marriage embodied the same racial prejudice that they saw at the root of slavery.
a nationwide law against racially mixed marriages was never enacted.
Prior to the California Supreme Court's ruling in Perez v.
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Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. The first laws criminalizing marriage and sex between whites and blacks were enacted in the colonial era in the English colonies of Virginia and Maryland, which depended economically on unpaid labor such as slavery.
At first, in the 1660s, the first laws in Virginia and Maryland regulating marriage between whites and blacks only pertained to the marriages of whites with black (and mulatto) slaves and indentured servants.
According to this theory, the ban on interracial marriage was issued to split up the ethnically mixed, increasingly "mixed-race" labor force into "whites," who were given their freedom, and "blacks," who were later treated as slaves rather than as indentured servants.
By outlawing "interracial" marriage, it became possible to keep these two new groups separated and prevent a new rebellion.
Anti-miscegenation laws there continued into the early 20th century.