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These laws also set into motion America’s peculiar system of racial classification: hypodescent.
Americans would be classified not according to the degree of mixture they contained but by the total absence or presence of blackness.
While Rolfe—and his alleged future descendants—won esteem for association with an “Indian princess,” relatively little racial mixing occurred between English settlers and Native Americans.
Children would inherit the social status of their mother, not their father, meaning the children of slave women would be born slaves regardless of the father’s status.