Apparently, the offspring of unmarried black men and white woman, as well as the offspring of any white man and black woman, were to be free.
The third and fourth provisions sought to deal with the "disgrace" of marriages between black male slaves and freeborn English women, and to provide a standard for determining the status of the children of mixed marriages.
To discourage "dives freeborne English women" who, "forgettfull of their free Condicion and to the disgrace of our Nation", married slaves, thus inconveniencing courts and masters with legal debates over the status of the offspring, any free woman so marrying after the act's passage was to serve her husband's master during her husband's lifetime. To further discourage such marriages, the children of matches contracted after the act's passage were to be "Slaves as their fathers were." The children of such marriages contracted before the act's passage were to serve their parents' masters until they reached the age of thirty-one. The first provision recognized only two clear and fundamental criteria for enslavement; a black skin and residency in Maryland.
The Lower House of the Assembly outlined the problem for the Upper House: Itt is desired by the lower house that the upper house would be pleased to drawe up an Act obliging negroes to serve durante vita they thinking itt very necessary for the prevencion of the damage [that] Masters of such Slaves may susteyn by such Slaves pretending to be Christened And soe pleade the lawe of England[.] The Lower House clearly recognized black slavery as a prior practice and implied that race distinction should be the sole criterion for its continuance.
It also recognized that such a policy would be in direct conflict with English law, 1.
Furthermore, by the 1660's, Maryland was firmly committed to a tobacco staple economy that demanded an abundance of cheap labor.
After the first serious tobacco depression, the result of the Navigation Act of 1660, economic conditions in the colony favored those investors with considerable capital who could command large labor forces.
In 1671, the Assembly had to forge a new act using more explicit language.