Back there [in the 1660s], before Jim Crow, before the invention of
the Negro or the white man or the words and concepts to describe them,
the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of white and
black bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and
were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantations and
legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people
worked together and relaxed together.
Having researched the subject matter and time period described within the parameters of the original question, it is interesting to note the frequency with which persons still refer to "white men" and "white race" even when faced with the clear evidence that there were no "white men" nor any "white race" on this planet whatsoever prior to 1681. Perhaps @LangLangC can best convey what the answer attempts to summarize for viewers to understand, without any ambiguity
"In that quotation readers might be misled by the possibly
anachronistic usage of "there were … white and black bondsman". So far
that it might be read to contain at least one historical inaccuracy:
There were no "white" bondsmen or "race" in the 1660's." There were
people of differing complexions but this did not influence their
status and the whole concept of e.g. a "white bondsman" or "race" was
not developed into later or our current understandings/definitions. As
the quote itself tries to clarify: "before the 'white man'", only then
to go on and present a wording that suggests a similar concept of
The quotation contains at least one historical inaccuracy: There were
no "white" bondsmen or "race" in the 1660's.
There is no historical record of any "race", "white men" nor "white race" in existence in the British colonies in the 1660's.
The term "White-woman" does not predate 1681.
Primary resource: Maryland State Archives.
Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly January 1637/8-September 1664 (Volume 1, Page 533-534) Liber W H&L
An Act Concerning Negroes & other Slaues
Bee itt Enacted by the Right Honble the Lord Proprietary by the aduice
and Consent of the upper and lower house of this
present Generall Assembly That all Negroes or other slaues already
within the Prouince And all Negroes and other slaues to bee hereafter
imported into the Prouince shall serue Durante Vita And all Children
born of any Negro or other slaue shall be Slaues as their ffathers
were for the terme of their Hues And forasmuch as divers freeborne
English women forgettfull of their free Condicon and to the disgrace
of our Nation doe intermarry with Negro Slaues by which alsoe diuers
suites may arise touching the Issue of such woemen and a great damage
doth befall the Masters of such Negros for preuention whereof for
deterring such freeborne women from such shamefull Matches Bee itt
further Enacted by the Authority advice and Consent aforesaid That
whatsoever free borne woman shall inter marry with any slaue from and
after the Last day of this present Assembly shall Serue the master of
such slaue dureing the life of her husband And that all the Issue of
such freeborne woemen soe marryed shall be Slaues as their fathers
were And Bee itt further Enacted that all the Issues of English or
other freeborne woemen that haue already marryed Negroes shall serve
the Masters of their Parents till they be Thirty yeares of age and noe
Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1678-November 1683 (Volume 7, Page 203-205) Liber W. H.
An Act concerning Negroes & Slaves—
Bee itt enacted by the Right Honourable the Lord Propry by & with the
Advice & Consent of the vpper & Lower houses of this prsent Genll
Assembly & the authority of the same, that all Negroes & other Slaues
already Imported or heereafter to bee Imported into this Province
shall serve (durante vita) & all the Children already borne or
heereafter to bee borne of any Negroes or other Slaues within this
Province shall bee Slaues to all intents & purposes as theire fathers
were for the Terme of theire naturall Liues.
And for as much a diuerse ffreeborne Englishe or White- woman
sometimes by the Instigacon Procuremt or Conievance of theire Masters
Mistres or dames, & always to the Satis- faccon of theire Lascivious &
Lustfull desires, & to the dis- grace not only of the English butt
allso of many other Chris- tian Nations, doe Intermarry with Negroes &
Slaues by which meanes diuerse Inconveniencys Controuersys & suites
may arise Touching the Issue or Children of such ffreeborne women
aforesaid, for the prvencon whereof for the future, Bee itt further
enacted by the Authority aforesaid that if any Mar Mirs or dame
haueing any ffreeborne Englishe or white woman Servt as aforesaid in
theire possession or property, shall by any Instigacon procuremt
knowledge permission or Contrive- ance whatsoeuer, suffer any such
ffreeborne Englishe or Whitewoman Servt in theire possession & wherein
they haue property as aforesaid to Intermarry or Contract in Matrimony
with any Slaue from and after the Last day of this prsent Ses- sions
of Assembly, That then the said Mr Mirs or dame of any such ffreeborne
women as aforesaid, soe married as aforesaid, shall forfeite & Loose
all theire Claime & Title to the service & servitude of any such
ffreeborne woman & alsoe the said woman Servt soe married shall bee &
is by this prsent Act absolutely discharged manymitted & made free
Instantly vpon her Intermarriage as aforesaid, from the Services
Imploymts vse Claime or demands of any such Mr Mirs or dame soe
offending as afforesaid, And all Children borne of such ffree- borne
women, soe manymitted & ffree as aforesaid shall bee ffree as the
women soe married as aforesaid, as also the said Mar Mirs & dame shall
forfeite the sume of Tenn Thousand pounds of Tobacco, one halfe
thereof to the Lord Propry & the other halfe to him or them that shall
Informe & sue for the
same to bee Recouered in any Court of Record within this Province by
Bill plaint or Informacon, wherein noe Essoyne proteccon or wager of
Law to bee allowed. And any preist Minister Majestrate or other person
whatsoeuer, within this Province that shall from & after the
Publicacon heereof Joyne in Marriage any Negroe or other Slaue to any
Englishe or other Slaue to any English or other whitewoman Servt
ffree- borne as aforesaid shall forfeite & pay the sume of Tenn
Thousand pound of Tobacco, one halfe to the Lord Propry & the other
halfe to the Informer or the person greiued, to bee Recouered by
action of debt bill plaint or Informacon in any Court of Record within
this Province, wherein noe Essoyne Proteccon or wager of Law to bee
allowed, And bee itt further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that
one Act entit- uled an Act Concerning Negroes and Slaues bee & is
heereby vtterly Repealed & made void, Provided that all matters &
thinges relateing in the said Act to the marriage of Negroes with
ffreeborne women & theire Issue are firme & valid according to the
true intent & purport of the said Act vntill this prsent time of the
Repeale thereof, any thing in this Act to the Contrary
The term "race" does not appear in the Act of 1664 nor in the Act of 1681.
In the Act of 1664 the terms "freeborne English women", "such woemen", "such freeborne women", "whatsoever free borne woman", "such freeborne woemen soe marryed" and "English or other freeborne woemen" appear in the document.
In the Act of 1681, which repealed the Act of 1664, the terms "ffreeborne Englishe or White-woman", "ffreeborne Englishe or white woman", "Englishe or Whitewoman" and "English or other whitewoman" appear in the document; for the first time in known history.
Secondary sources: The Invention of the White Race, Volume 1
Racial Oppression and Social Control, The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2
The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America by Theodore W. Allen; Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today by Jacqueline Battalora.
So-called "Jim Crow" laws came about much later, during what is called in U.S. history "Reconstruction".
Was race really unimportant in the 1660's?
"race" was unimportant in the 1660's in the British Colonies as "race" did not exist at that time in history.
but it would make sense that if things were like this there, then it wouldn't be too awfully dissimilar in other parts of the worldI think this is a faulty premise. Race and how it works as a social concept is not uniform across the world even in modern times.