Kulturkampf

The Legacy Of Anthony Johnson In The American South

On the one hand, he was an early pioneer in the establishment of English colonies in North America. On the other hand, he was a slave owner who successfully fought for the right to own and control slaves in the colony of Virginia.

Johnson was born in 1600 in England and emigrated to the colony of Virginia in 1621. He quickly established himself as a successful planter and gained a large tract of land on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He also began to acquire slaves, which was not unusual for plantation owners in Virginia at that time.

However, in 1640, Johnson had a falling out with one of his slaves, a man named John Casor. Johnson accused Casor of stealing one of his pigs and had him arrested. Casor was put on trial and found guilty. Johnson then demanded that the court order Casor to be returned to him so that he could be punished.

The court, however, ruled that Casor was a free man and could not be forced to return to Johnson. This was the first time in Virginia that a court had ruled that a slave was a free man.

Johnson was outraged by the ruling and took his case to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He argued that the ruling had put his property rights at risk and that he should be compensated for the loss of his slave.

The House of Burgesses ruled in Johnson's favor and passed a law that said any slave who ran away from his owner could be captured and returned to that owner. This law, known as the "partus sequitur ventrem" law, would become the basis for slavery in the American South.

Anthony Johnson's legacy, then, is both positive and negative. He was an early colonist who helped to establish the English presence in North America. But he is also remembered as the man who helped to establish the legal basis for slavery in the American South.