Table of Contents
- Primary Sources
- Rachel O'Connor Letter (1836)
- North Carolina Slave Code (1855)
- The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)
- Annotated Bibliography
- Primary Sources
- Secondary Sources
About the Author
Adam Rothman, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University, teaches the history of the Atlantic world, slavery, and Jeffersonian America.
What was it like to be a slave in 19th-century America? Two textbooks for high school students, Appleby et al's The American Vision (AV) and Boorstin et al's History of the United States (HUS) offer subtly contrasting answers to this important historical question, but both share a basic narrative voice, characteristic of textbooks, that limits their ability to highlight controversy, explore ambiguity and irony, or raise the problem of how we know what we think we know about slave life.
Both textbooks treat slavery as primarily an economic institution in which slaves were regarded by their owners as property yet insisted on their own humanity. The American Vision frames slavery in the context of its discussion of the southern plantation economy, especially its dominant crop, cotton. It traces the expansion of cotton production, analyzes southern class structure, and describes the main ways of organizing slave labor, the task and gang systems. A brief discussion of southern law also emphasizes the economic dimension of southern slavery: "Society viewed enslaved persons as property and treated them that way." The textbook upsets the equation of blacks with enslavement by noting the presence of free African Americans in the United States before the Civil War. (Students may be surprised to learn that 10% of African Americans were free in 1850 and a majority of them lived in slave states.) The American Vision concludes by highlighting the ways slaves coped with enslavement, from singing to Christian religious practice to various tactics of resistance and rebellion. The stories of Solomon Northup, a free man of color from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and Nat Turner, the famous leader of a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, bookend The American Vision's presentation of slavery, putting a human (male) face on the history enclosed within.
History of the United States also frames slavery in an economic context, placing it in a section titled "The Cotton Kingdom," although the authors do acknowledge that some slavery was important for other crops, too. The textbook opens its analysis of slavery, however, with white southerners' political and ideological shift toward defending slavery as a positive good. (The authors are surprisingly judgmental here, calling the proslavery intellectuals' arguments "astonishing nonsense.") Reaching back to the era of the "middle passage," the authors point out that while most immigrants came to America voluntarily, Africans had been forced to cross the Atlantic against their will. History of the United States presents slavery as "first and foremost a system of labor control," in which slaveowners compelled their human property to work long and hard. Slaves might be whipped and treated cruelly, but the authors argue that slaves experienced a wide range of condition, treatment, and status. They go so far as to suggest that some masters and slaves may even have "loved" each other. Like The American Vision, History of the United States also points out that enslaved people managed to create a life for themselves despite the cruelties of slavery. Unlike The American Vision, History of the United States concludes by arguing that slavery also negatively affected white southerners by stunting southern economic development.
Although each textbook tells a story that seems authoritative, a subtle contrast between them suggests that this history is open to multiple interpretation and even controversy. Consider The American Vision's assertion that "society viewed enslaved persons as property and treated them that way." Now it is true that slaves were considered to be property in the eyes of the law, with the horrific result that human beings were assigned monetary value, given as gifts and passed on to heirs, and bought and sold like cattle. In fact, the authors miss an opportunity to hammer this point home by failing to highlight the domestic slave trade, a traumatic reality in the lives of enslaved people and an essential component in slavery's geographic expansion. On the other hand, as History of the United States makes clear, slaveowners did not view enslaved people merely as property; in countless ways, they understood that their slaves were indeed human beings. A close examination of southern laws makes this clear. Slaves may have been stripped of most human and civil rights, but they were burdened with legal obligations. Unlike other kinds of property, they could be punished for committing crimes. And whether for their own sake or that of their owners, the law offered slaves a modicum of due process so that they could not arbitrarily be punished by the state for crimes they did not commit.
History of the United States captures the full range and complexity of slave life better than does The American Vision, but it treads on thin ice in boldly asserting that "there were white Southerners who loved their slaves and who were loved by them in return." Just what kind of love was this? History of the United States explains that plantation mistresses showed their love for slaves by taking care of the sick, giving them food and clothing, attending their rituals, and sometimes even teaching their slaves to read. Now they might have done these things out of love, but they also might have done them because it was in their own self-interest to be "good masters" (whatever that is). To support the idea that some slaveowners loved their slaves, History of the United States quotes the Louisiana slaveowner Rachel O'Connor, who wrote of a sick young slave, "The poor little fellow is laying at my feet asleep. I wish I did not love him as I do, but it is so, and I cannot help it" (see Primary Source Rachel O'Connor Letter ) But it might be asked, does O'Connor love this boy as she would her own son, or does she "love" him as a pet? If Rachel O'Connor had actually fallen in love with one of her slaves in the modern romantic sense, she would not have dared to admit it, let alone act on it, without severe recriminations from her white family and neighbors. Certain kinds of love were unthinkable in a slave society, even if, from time to time, they could not be entirely suppressed.
As the quotation from Rachel O'Connor suggests, primary sources can be laced with ambiguity and are often open to multiple interpretations. Both textbooks use snippets from primary sources in ways that conceal the art of critical historical thinking, which involves the careful assessment of documentary and other kinds of evidence. Consider American Vision's "Profiles in History" section about Nat Turner. Most of what we know about Nat Turner comes from a pamphlet titled The Confessions of Nat Turner, written by a white lawyer named Thomas Gray, who interviewed Nat Turner in prison while the convicted rebel was awaiting execution in Southampton, VA, in 1831. Indeed, all of the quotations in the textbook from Nat Turner and his unnamed lawyer come from this pamphlet (see Primary Source The Confessions of Nat Turner ). Is it a reliable source? Are the words really Nat Turner's, or did Gray edit or invent them? The authors of American Vision do not even pose these questions, which point to a core problem in the history of slavery—the dearth of sources written by slaves about their own lives.
If Confessions is an authentic transcription of Nat Turner's words, then we ought to pay close attention to what he actually said. Take the following example. According to the textbook, Nat declared that he was "intended for some great purpose." But Confessions actually tells a slightly different story:
"Being at play with other children, when three or four years old, I was telling them something, which my mother overhearing, said it had happened before I was born—I stuck to my story, however, and related some things which went, in her opinion, to confirm it—others being called on were greatly astonished, knowing that these things had happened, and caused them to say in my hearing, I surely would be a prophet, as the Lord had shewn me things that had happened before my birth. And my father and mother strengthened me in this my first impression, saying in my presence, I was intended for some great purpose, which they had always thought from certain marks on my head and breast."
So according to Nat Turner's alleged testimony in the Confessions, it was his parents and the slave community who declared him even as a small child to be divinely appointed for greatness. Rather than a "religious fanatic," he was fulfilling a prophetic destiny affirmed by those closest to him. Understanding the quotation in this way opens up questions about the nature of slave families, the dynamics of slave communities, and the substance of their religious life. To read The Confessions of Nat Turner, then, is to enter a strange world, full of signs and wonders, hope and violence, love and pain—in other words, the history of American slavery.
So what was it like to be a slave? To be honest, it's hard to know for sure, since the sources historians have to work with rarely come from the perspective of slaves themselves. Much of what we think we know about slaves' experiences were written by slaveholders or northern and foreign observers for their own purposes. Even first-person accounts of slavery, such as the autobiographies of former slaves or the Works Progress Administration interviews conducted with former slaves in the 1930s, must be read with a discerning eye. Still, the historical record is plentiful, and it shows there was no single slave experience. Countless planters' papers, ex-slave narratives, court cases and legal documents, newspapers, oral histories, and artifacts dug up from slave quarters, offer clues to the real lives of enslaved people in America. Mining this archive, contemporary historians have been turning from social history to biography. In other words, we are less inclined to ask what it was like to be a slave in the abstract than to draw from the historical record to ask what it was like to be a particular enslaved person, say Frederick Douglass or Sally Hemings, to name two of the most famous. A biographical approach might help to recover the diversity and individuality that historical writing has too often denied to enslaved people.
Rachel O'Connor Letter (1836)
This is the letter quoted in Boorstin et al's History of the United States to show that slaveholders could "love" their slaves. Read the whole letter. In context, what do you think Rachel O'Connor means when she writes to her sister that she loves her slave Isaac? Later in the letter, O'Connor describes a very different relationship between masters and slaves in a nearby neighborhood where the planters had nipped a slave revolt in the bud. With typical severity for such occasions, the authorities hanged two of the conspirators. Taken in its entirely, the letter reveals that hate and cruelty existed alongside love and affection in the slave South.
Jan-y 11, 1836
My dear sister,
Your kind and affectionate letter, dated the 30th of last month, did not arrive until the 8th of this month. I do not know the cause of its being so long on the way, but I assure you that it met a hearty welcome after a tedious journey. I had been afraid for several days that something has happened to you from some uneasy dreams, which I tried not to think of, as I am continually expecting some new misfortune, but I find by your letter that you were not in good health.
I expected to be quite alone on Christmas day, and should, if my poor little Clarissa had not come down the day previous and stayed until the day after Christmas. Mr. Davis did not like to be from home at that time and did not come. Clarissa and myself spoke of you several times that day. How sorry I should have been had I have known your situation—laying in a fever. I hope you may be able to collect fortitude to bear the absence of my dear little Frances for a short time. Most sincerely do I pray for you both, but pray don't indulge grief to the ruin of your health. I shall be truly glad to see her and her little brother with their Uncle Alfred and will try to make them happy. Should I live, I hope the children and yourself may spend a part of the time with me yet.
I have got a good cover on the house and find it very comfortable. My health has become so good that I have almost forgotten my age. I can attend to my affairs with ease and I hope to do some good for awhile. You write so loving and kind to me that my very heart overflows with gratitude, and I will assure you that the confidence you place in me shall not be abused, and promise to take the same care that I have ever done, and render a just account of every cent to yourself and your brother. The greatest earthly wish that I now entertain is to afford you satisfaction.
I have sixteen little Negroes a raising, the oldest of the sixteen, a little turned of six years old, all very healthy children, excepting my little favorite Isaac. He is subject to a cough, but seldom sick enough to lay up. The poor little fellow is laying at my feet sound asleep. I wish I did not love him, as I do, but it is so, and I cannot help it.
Mr. Germany keeps the plantation and Negroes in good order, and all else according; and I am trying to fix my gardens, as they used to be, once more. Being sick so long, with little hopes of ever recovering, they got greatly out of order; but I have improved the looks much of late.
I have sent the crop of cotton to New Orleans—126 bales in all, and have corn enough at home to serve the plantation this season. Mr. Davis has moved over to Thompson's Creek, in the East Parish, about 20 miles from me. He rents the place this year. God only knows where they will go next. Charlotte has been at the point of death. About Christmas, or a few days after, when I heard from her last, they thought her rather on the mend. Poor Charlotte has been unfortunate. I have not seen her since she got sick last.
I am glad to find by your last, that you are willing to add more land to this. I think with good luck, the crop would be larger and soon pay the price of another tract. I have written last mail to your brother and requested of him to try to bargain Hail out of his. It is most excellent land for corn and cotton, and no way inconvenient to this plantation.
I am really glad to hear of Mr. Stinson's return. It would have been much against the children had he not returned to them again. Where is there another so moral and who takes the pains to set good examples as he did in teaching them their duty to God and man?
Now, my best of sisters, I must inform you of this day sixteen years ago, being the day that my dear, dear Stephen was laid in earth, a loss that causes my heart to bleed and will during life. Kiss my little ones for me and tell them how much I want to see them all. I have never found a white colt for my dear little Charley yet, but I love them all alike and when I get for one, I must get for all. If your brother is at home, please remember me most affectionately to him. Tell him I am looking for him to come.
At a ball on the 8th in Saint Francis Ville, Dr. Hearn's lady, setting near a window, was stabbed in the back, but is living yet. It is not known who stabbed her. They had not been married long. She was formerly a Miss Jewel.
The Negroes over at Thompson's Creek had some idea of a raising about Christmas and had the business planned when a Negro woman informed on them and had a stop put to their wickedness, by hanging two Negroes, and a search was made for one or two white men which made their escape so far. Report says there were two more Negroes that ought to be hung of justice had taken place, but their masters were rich, which proved excuse enough to save them.
It is past midnight; excuse all mistakes. I remain your affectionate sister,
Letter from Rachel O'Connor to her sister Mary, January 11, 1836, from Allie Bayne Windham Webb. Mistress of Evergreen Plantation: Rachel O'Connor's Legacy of Letters 1823-1845. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1983, 184-186.
North Carolina Slave Code (1855)
The North Carolina slave code is typical of the state slave codes compiled in the 1800s. It includes an array of repressive laws designed to control the autonomy of slaves and free people of color and provides harsh punishments for those who broke the law. Yet even as the law deprived slaves and free people of color of basic rights, it acknowledged their humanity by imposing legal obligations upon them and providing slaves a narrow pathway to freedom. Some slave codes purported to protect slaves from excessive cruelty and established basic standards for the provision of food and clothing, but these protective laws were seldom enforced. By the same token, some of the most repressive laws were enforced only in response to the discovery of a slave conspiracy or the outbreak of a revolt, when slaveowners clamped down with a vengeance.
This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
REVISED CODE--No. 105.
SLAVES AND FREE PERSONS OF COLOR.
Concerning Slaves and Free Persons of Color.
1816 c 910 s 1 Negroes &c. imported contrary to act of Congress to be sold for the use of the State.
1. Be it enacted, &c., That each and every negro, mulatto or person of colour , imported into this state from any foreign port or place, for a slave, or to be held to service or labor, since the first day of January, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, contrary to the provisions of an act of Congress, entitled "an act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States, from and after the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight," approved the second day of March, 1807, (except as hereinafter provided,) shall be sold and disposed of for the use of the State.
1816 c 910 s 2 Sheriffs duty in seizing and selling.
2. The sheriff of each county of this State shall, and he is hereby authorised and required to seize and take into his possession every negro, mulatto and person of color, of the description aforesaid, as well those which have been, as those which shall be imported as aforesaid, found, or which shall be found in the county of which he is sheriff; and such negro, mulatto or person of color, so taken in his possession, to sell and dispose of at public sale, (giving previous notice of fifteen days of the time of such sale, by advertisement in one of the newspapers published in this State,) to the highest and best bidder, at a credit of six months, the purchaser entering into bond with security, to be approved by said sheriff, for the payment of the purchase money; which money when received, the sheriff so receiving, shall account for and pay to the treasurer of this State, after deducting from the gross amount thereof the several sums hereinafter authorised by him to be retained: the monies collected by virtue of this act shall be paid and accounted for at the treasury, by the several sheriffs, at the same time and under the regulations and penalties as prescribed in accounting for and paying the public taxes.
1816 c 910 s 3 Sheriff's duty when they abscond.
3. Where any such negro, mulatto or person of colour, as is above mentioned, shall abscond, or so conceal him or herself, that he or she cannot be taken by the sheriff, said sheriff may offer a reward not exceeding one-fifth part of the value of such negro, mulatto or person of colour, to any person or persons who shall apprehend and deliver him or her to the sheriff or his deputy, and shall then sell said negro, mulatto, or person of colour, as above directed; or such sheriff may in his discretion proceed to advertise and sell such negro, mulatto or person of colour as directed in the foregoing section, without offering a reward, although such negro, mulatto, or person of colour may not be in the custody or possession of said sheriff at the time of said sale.
1816 c 910 s 4 Persons giving notice of such negroes, &c. to have one-fifth of their value
4. Whenever any person shall discover any negro of the description aforesaid, in any county of this State, and give such notice thereof to the sheriff of the county, that he shall, in consequence of such information, obtain the said negro, mulatto, or person of colour, the person or persons giving such information shall be entitled to receive from the said sheriff, one-fifth part of the sum for which said negro, mulatto or person of colour shall afterwards sell, to be retained, as well as the reward offered as directed in the preceding section, out of the proceeds of the sale, and paid to the person entitled to the same by the sheriff.
1816 c 910 s 5 Sales to be at the court house and sheriff to give bills of sale.
5. All sales by virtue of this act shall be made at the court house of each respective county; and the sheriff selling, or his successor, in case of his death, resignation or removal from office, shall execute and deliver to the purchaser, his executors, administrators or assigns, a bill of sale for such negro, mulatto or person of colour so sold, which shall vest in the purchaser the absolute property in the same, and the title so acquired shall not be affected by the want of advertisement, or by any other irregularity in such sale or proceedings, on the part of the sheriff.
1816 c 910 s 6 Sheriff's commissions, &c.
6. Every sheriff selling as aforesaid may retain out of the purchase money of such negro, mulatto or person of colour, so sold, beside the rewards above directed to be paid, and beside the reasonable charges at which the said sheriff shall be, in keeping such negro, mulatto or person of colour, till the day of sale, and in advertising as a foresaid, the further sum of six per centum on the gross proceeds of such sale, which shall be in full compensation of his services.
1816 c 910 s 7 Certain former purchases confirmed.
7. Where any person or persons shall have purchased before the 18th November, 1816, for a fair and valuable consideration, any such negro, mulatto, or person of colour, so imported into this State contrary to the provisions of the said act of Congress, of or from any person or persons originally importing such negro, mulatto or person of colour, or the master, agent or attorney of such importer or importers, and such sale or purchase shall not be merely colourable to defeat or evade the provisions of this act, in that case the sheriff in whose county such negro, mulatto or person of colour is found, and the sheriff of the county where such purchaser resides, shall not proceed to sell such negro, mulatto, or person of colour; but upon due proof being made of such sale, and purchase before the chief or other justice of the Supreme, or Superior courts, such chief or other justice, shall give to such purchaser, a certificate under his hand, directed to the sheriff of the county where such negro, mulatto or person of colour is or the purchaser resides, specifying the negro, mulatto or person of colour, with respect to which such proof shall have been exhibited; and on receipt of such certificate, such sheriff shall execute and deliver to such purchaser or his representative, a bill of sale for such negro, mulatto or person of colour; and the benefit of this section shall extend to the assignee or assignees of such purchaser, as well as to such purchaser and his representatives.
1816 c 910 s 8 The issue of negroes &c. imported included in this provision.
8. The foregoing provisions of this act shall extend and apply to every negro, mulatto and person of colour, the issue of any negro, mulatto or person of colour so imported as aforesaid.
1786 c 249. Penalty on bringing slaves from certain States.
9. Every person who shall introduce into this State any slave, from any of the United States which have passed laws for the liberation of slaves, shall, on complaint thereof before any justice of the peace, be compelled by such justice to enter into bond with sufficient surety, in the sum of one hundred dollars current money for each slave, for the removing of such slave to the state from whence such slave was brought, within three months thereafter; the penalty to be recovered, one half for the use of the State, the other for the use of the prosecutor, on failure of a compliance therewith; and the person introducing such slaves shall also, in case of such failure, forfeit and pay the sum of two hundred dollars, to be recovered by any person suing for the same and applied to his own use.
1819 c 1014 1823 c 1227 Reward for taking up runaways.
10. All persons who may apprehend and confine in jail, or deliver to the owner, any runaway slave, for whom a greater reward shall not have been offered, shall be entitled to recover and receive from the owner of such slave the sum of three dollars, where the owner resides in the county in which such slave may be apprehended, and five dollars if he reside beyond the limits of such county; and where the runaway slave thus apprehended shall be lodged in jail, it shall be the duty of the jailor to tax the said reward on each slave against such owner, and collect the same with his prison fees.
1741 c 35 s 25 Runaw'ys to be committed to jail--notice to be given.
11. If any negro who shall be taken up as a runaway, and brought before any justice of the peace, will not declare the name of his or her owner, such justice shall, in such case, and he is hereby required, by a warrant under his hand, to commit the said negro slave to the gaol of the county wherein he or she shall be taken up; and the sheriff or under sheriff, of the county into whose custody the said runaway shall be committed, shall forthwith cause notice, in writing, of such commitment, to be set up on the court house door of the said county, and there continued during the space of two months; in which uotice a full description of the said runaway and his clothing shall be particularly set down. And every sheriff failing to give such notice as herein is directed, shall forfeit and pay ten dollars; which said forfeiture shall and may be recovered with costs before any justice of the peace in the county in which such slave is committed: The one moiety whereof shall be to the county, and the other moiety to the person who shall sue for the same.
1741 c 35 s 26 27. Runaway may he hired out, when owner not known.
1741 c 35 s 28 When the owner appears runaway to be delivered to him.
12. If the owner of any runaway thus committed, shall not become known within two months after such commitment, it shall and may be lawful for the keeper of the jail, upon his application to the county court, and with the consent of the court, to let the said runaway to hire to any person or persons whom they shall approve of, for such sum or sums of money, and for such term or time, as they shall direct; and out of the money accruing from such hire, all fees relating to the taking up, imprisonment, and conveying to jail, and charges of maintaining such runaway shall be first paid and discharged, and the overplus, if any, disposed of as such court, who shall order the said runaway to let out to hire, shall direct: Provided always, That when the owner of such runaway shall demand the same, the person to whom such runaway shall be let out to hire, shall forthwith deliver him or her into the custody of the keeper of the public jail, and shall then also pay the hire, in proportion to the time the said runaway hath served; and the keeper of the said jail shall deliver the said runaway to his master or owner, he or she paying down all fees, and charges of taking up, imprisonment, conveying to jail, and maintaining such runaway, in case the hire of the said runaway be not sufficient to satisfy the same.
1741 c 35 s 29 Iron collar to be put on runaway when hired out.
13. When the keeper of the said public jail shall, by direction of such court as aforesaid, let out any runaway to hire to any person or persons whomsoever, the said keeper shall at the time of his delivery, cause an iron collar to be put on the neck of such runaway, with the letters P. G. stamped thereon; and thereafter the said keeper shall not be answerable for any escape of the said runaway.
1741 c 35 s 30 and 31. Duty of Justice wh'n a runaway is bro't before him and also of the constable to whom he is committ'd.
14. Where any runaway slave shall be brought before any justice of the peace, said justice shall commit the said runaway to the constable of his district by his warrant, and therein order such constable to convey the said runaway to his home or to the public jail; and may also, if he think proper, order the said constable to give such runaway as many lashes, not exceeding thirty-nine, as the said justice may in his discretion direct. Every constable, on the receipt of such runaway, shall give a receipt for him or her; and upon failure to execute such warrant or give such receipt, shall forfeit and pay two dollars for the use of the county, to be recovered before any justice of the county where such constable shall reside.
1741 c 35 s 32 Penalty on Sheriff &c for employing runaway or keeping him longer than this act directs or for suffering him to escape.
15. If any sheriff, under sheriff or constable, shall set to work, employ, or let out to hire, without order of court as aforesaid, any runaway slave committed to the custody of any of them, or shall detain such runaway longer in his or their custody than by this act is directed, he or they so offending shall forfeit and pay ten dollars, to be recovered before any justice of the peace having jurisdiction thereof: one moiety whereof to be paid to the county where the offence shall be committed, and the other to him or them who shall sue for the same: and if any sheriff or his under sheriff, or any constable, into whose hands any runaway slave shall be committed, by virtue of this act, shall negligently or wilfully suffer such runaway to escape, the said sheriff, under sheriff, or constable, shall be liable to the action of the party grieved, for recovery of his damages, at the common law, with costs.
1741 c 35 s 33 Keepers of forries to give passage to constables conveying runaways
16. The keepers of ferries within this State, shall give immediate passage to all constables, and their assistants, charged with conducting any runaway or runaways, either to the public jail or to such runaway or runaways' master or owner, without charging such constable, or their assistants, for their ferriage, either going or returning; but all such ferriages of constables and their assistants, shall be paid by the county where such ferry-keepers respectively live, and levied, as aforesaid, upon the respective masters or owners of such runaways.
1741 c 35 s 34 Notice to be given by the jailor in certain cases in the State Gazette.
17. When any runaway whose owner is supposed to be resident in any other State, shall be committed to any public jail of this State, the keeper of the said jail shall, by the first opportunity after such commitment, send a description of such negro or runaway, together with the account of the time of commitment, and the county where such runaway is committed, to the press, to be advertised in the State Gazette; for which he shall be re-imbursed by the owner of the said slave or runaway.
1818 c 981 s 1 R'naway slaves may be sold in certain cases by order of the county court.
18. Whenever any negro slave shall be taken up in this State as a runaway, and confined in any jail for the space of twelve months, and the apprehension and confinement of said slave has been advertised in the State Gazette, at least six months, and the owner does not apply to prove property in said time, then it shall be lawful for the court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the county in which said runaway is confined, to command their sheriff to expose said negro slave to public sale for ready money, giving three months notice in some public newspaper in this State, at the court house door, and at two other public places in the said county, of the time and place of sale, and of the circum tances under which the said slave is to be sold.
1818 c 981 s 2 Sheriffs commissions on sale.
19. The said sheriff shall be allowed two and a half per centum on the amount of sales made under the preceding section.
1818 c 981 s 3 Title to be conveyed and amount of sales how appropriated.
20. The bill of sale of the sheriff shall vest in the purchaser an absolute right to the said slave; and said sheriff is hereby directed to pay over the residue of the amount of sales, after deducting his commissions and prison charges, to the county trustee, to be applied as county taxes for the use of said county.
1818 c 981 s 4 Owner may receive the money on petition,
21. Upon petition of the owner of said slave or slaves to the court of the county where the proceeds of said sale are deposited, and upon satisfactory evidence of the right of property of said petitioner or petitioners to said slave, the said court shall direct the payment to the said petitioner or petitioners of the sum paid into the county treasury, taking bond and security from such petitioner or petitioners when they think proper, payable to the chairman of said courts and his successors in office, to refund said money with interest to the real owner of said slave, should it thereafter appear that such petitioner or petitioners were not the owners of such slave.
1830 c 17 s 12 Cases in which the county shall pay the expenses of imprisonment to be afterwards recovered from the owner when he b'comes kn'wn
22. If any runaway slave, confined in any jail in this State, his or her owner being unknown, should die, or by the regular process of law be removed from said jail before a sale of such runaway is effected according to the provisions of this act, then and in either of the cases, it shall be the duty of the court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the county where said slave was confined, to direct the county trustee to pay all the expenses of his or her imprisonment out of the county funds: Provided, That the jailor shews to the court that he has complied with the directions of this act requiring the advertisement of runaways. And when such expenses have been so paid by the county trustee, if the owner should thereafter become known, it shall be the duty of the said trustee, to recover for the use of the county from the owner or his representative, the amount he may have paid on account of the said runaway.
1791 c 335 s 2 Slaves offering forged free papers to be whipped.
23. If any slave shall be guilty of producing any forged free pass or certificate, he or she so offending, shall on conviction before any Justice of the peace, be sentenced to receive as many lashes on his bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine, as the said justice may in his discretion direct.
1741 c 35 s 40 R'naway slaves may be outlawed in certain cases.
24. Whereas many times slaves run away and lie out hid and lurking in swamps, woods, and other obscure places, killing cattle and hogs, and committing other injuries to the inhabitants of this State; in all such cases, upon intelligence of any slave or slaves, lying out as aforesaid, any two justices of the peace for the county wherein such slave or slaves is, or are supposed to lurk or do mischief, shall, and they are hereby empowered and required to issue proclamation against such slave or slaves (reciting his, or their names, and the name or names of the owner or owners, if known) thereby requiring him or them, and every of them forthwith to surrender him or themselves; and also to empower and require the sheriff of the said county to take such power with him as he shall think fit and necessary, for going in search and pursuit of, and effectual apprehending such outlying slave or slaves, which proclamation shall be published at the door of the court house, and at such other places as said justice shall direct. And if any slave or slaves against whom proclamation hath been thus issued, stay out and do not immediately return home, it shall be lawful for any person or person, whatsoever to kill and destroy such slave or slaves, by such ways and means as he shall think fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the same.
1741 c 35 s 35, 36, 37. 1831 c 44 Slaves not to go armed.
25. No slave shall go armed with gun, sword, club or other weapon, or shall keep any such weapon, or shall hunt or range with a gun in the woods, upon any pretence whatsoever; and if any slave shall be found offending herein, it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons to seize, and take to his own use, such gun, sword or other
weapon, and to apprehend and deliver such slave to the next constable, who is enjoined and required, without further order or warrant, to give such slave twenty lashes on his or her bare back, and to send him or her home: and the master or owner of such slave shall pay the taker-up of such armed slave the same reward as by this act is allowed for taking up runaways.
1741 c 35 s 38 No slave to go off his masters pl'ntation without leave in writing.
26. No slave shall go from off the plantation or seat of land where such slave shall be appointed to live without a certificate of leave, in writing, for so doing from his or her master or overseer.
1741 c 35 s 39 1779 c 152 s 1 Slaves not to raise stock.
27. No slave shall be permitted on any pretence whatever, to raise any horses, cattle, hogs or sheep, but all such belonging to any slave, or in any slave's mark, shall be seized and sold by the county. Wardens as directed in the act entitled an act concerning the Poor.
1753 c 53 s 6 Slaves not fed &c. stealing corn &c. injured person may sue the owner.
28. In case any slave who shall not appear to have been properly clothed and fed shall be convicted of stealing any corn, cattle, hogs or other goods whatsoever, from any person not the owner of such slave, such injured person shall and may maintain an action of trespass against the master, owner, or possessor of such slave in the Superior or county court, and shall recover his or her damages with cost of suit.
1830 c 6 s 2 No slave to teach another to read.
29. If any slave shall teach or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty-nine lashes on his or her bare back.
1818 c 974 Slaves not to sell spirituous liquors.
30. If any negro slave shall presume to sell any spirituous liquors by retail or otherwise, such slave so offending shall be taken before a magistrate of the county, where he may have committed such offence, and if found guilty, shall receive not exceeding thirty-nine lashes, on his or her bare back.
1830 c 10 s 1 Slaves not to game.
31. It shall not be lawful for any slave or slaves to play at any game of cards, dice, nine-pins, or any game of hazard or chance, for any money, liquor, or any kind of property, whether the same be staked or not; and any slave so offending shall, upon conviction before a justice of the peace, receive a whipping on his or her bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes.
1777 c 123 s 2 Penalty on slaves burning woods.
32. Any slave convicted of setting fire to any woods, under circumstances which, if the offence were committed by a free person, would subject such free person to a penalty, shall be ordered to receive on his bare back thirty-nine lashes.
1794 c 406 s 1 Slaves not to hire their time Penalty and Proceedings.
33. It shall not be lawful, under any pretence whatever, for any person or persons to allow, his, her, or their slave, or any slave under his, her, or their command or direction to hire, his, her or their time, under the penalty of forfeiting the sum of forty dollars for each and every offence; to be recovered before any justice of the peace, to the sole benefit of the party prosecuting: And it shall be part of the duty and charge of the grand jury both in the county and superior courts, to make presentment of any slave who shall be permitted by his or her master or mistress to go at large, having hired his or her time, and on such presentment being made, the court shall issue an order to the sheriff of the county where such negro may be, to take up such negro, and him or her safely secure, so that he can have such negro before the next county court, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff to give the owner uotice hereof (if residing within the county) at least ten days before the setting of the court; and the said court shall empannel a jury, to enquire and try the truth of snch presentment, on which trial or enquiry the owner may produce evidence as in other cases; and if the jury shall find that the said presentment is true, such negro shall then be hired out by the sheriff of the county, at public vendue, for the space of one year, taking bond with security for the same payable to the wardens of the poor, for the use of the poor of said county, subject to the payment of any charges respecting said negro. Provided always, That when the owner resides out of the county, the sheriff shall give notice by advertisement in the nearest Gazette, for at least two weeks, where a Gazette shall be published in the county in which the sheriff shall live, but in other cases the sheriff shall advertise the same at the court house of the county in which the said slave shall be presented or shall be taken up. Provided always, That when any person who shall hire the negroes of an orphan, shall hire to such slave his or her time, the slave shall only be hired out under this section for such time, or the remainder of the time as said slave may have been hired to such person.
1831 c 4 s 2 No slave to go at large as a freeman.
34. It shall not be lawful for any slave to go at large as a freeman, exercising his or her own discretion in the employment of his or her time; nor shall it be lawful for any slave to keep house to him or herself as a free person exercising the like discretion in the employment of his or her time; and in case the owner of any slave consent or connive at the commission of such offence, he or she so offending shall be subject to indictment, and on conviction be fined in the discretion of the court not exceeding one hundred dollars: Provided, That nothing herein, shall be cons rued to prevent any person permitting his or her slave or slaves to live or keep house upon his or her land for the purpose of attending to the business of his or her master or mistress.
1794 c 406 s 2 Negroes not to meet for the purpose of dancing &c. without written per mission.
35. No person shall grant permission for any meeting or meetings of the negroes of others, or people of colour, at his, her or their houses, or on his, her or their plantation for the purpose of drinking or dan ing, under the penalty of forfeiting twen y dollars on conviction of such offence, in any court having jurisdiction thereof, unless such slave shall have a special permit in writing or otherwise from his or her owner for that purpose.
1831 c 4 s 1 Slaves and free negroes not to preach in public.
36. It shall not be lawful under any pretence for any slave, or free person of colour to preach or exhort in public or in any manner to officiate as a preacher or teacher in any prayer meeting, or other association for worship where slaves of different families are collected together; and if any free person of colour shall be thereof duly convicted on indictment before any court having jurisdiction thereof, he shall, for each offence, receive, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes on his bare back; and where any slave shall be guilty of a violation of this act, he shall, on conviction before a single magistrate, receive not exceeding thirty-nine lashes on his bare back.
1802 c 618 s 1 Conspiracy of slaves, how punished.
37. If any number of slaves shall at any time hereafter, consult, advise or conspire to rebel or make insurrection, or shall plot or conspire the murder of any person, or persons whatsoever, every such consulting, plotting or conspiring, shall be adjudged and deemed felony, and the slave or slaves convicted thereof in the manner prescribed by law, shall suffer death or be transported, as hereinafter provided.
1802 c 618 s 2 Insurrection how punished.
38. If any slave be found in a state of rebellion or insurrection, or shall agree to join any conspiracy or insurrection, or shall procure or persuade others to join or enlist for that purpose, or shall knowingly and wilfully aid or assist any slave or slaves in a state of rebellion, or engaged in a conspiracy to make insurrection, as by furnishing or agreeing or promising to furnish, such persons with arms, ammunition or any other article for their aid and support, every slave so offending, and being thereof legally convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall suffer death, or be transported, as hereinafter provided.
18 2 c 618 s 3 Free persons joining insurrection, how punished.
39. If any free person shall join in any conspiracy, rebellion or insurrection of the slaves, or shall agree to join in any such conspiracy, rebellion or insurrection, or shall procure, or persuade others to join or enlist for that purpose, or shall knowingly and wilfully aid or assist any slave or slaves in a state of rebellion, or engaged in a conspiracy to make insurrection, as by furnishing, or agreeing or promising to furnish such slave with arms, ammunition or any other article for their aid and support, every free person so offending, and being thereof legally convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall suffer death without benefit of clergy.
1802 c 618 s 4 What evid'nce shall be rec'ived in cases of insurrection, &c.
40. In all cases wherein a slave shall be prosecuted for the offences described in the 37th and 38th, sections of this act, the court may take for evidence, the oath of one or more credible witnesses, the confession of the offender, freely given without any undue influence, either by terror or persuasion, or the testimony of a negro or other person of colour, bond or free; but in all cases where the testimony of one negro or person of colour shall be admitted, the same shall not be deemed conclusive and sufficient to convict the person charged, unless the same shall be supported by such pregnant circumstances, as to the jury on said trial shall appear convincing proof when taken together with the testimony of such negro or person of colour.
1802 c 618 s 5 1819 c 1009 Slaves convicted of conspiracy or insurrection shall suffer death or be transport'd.
41. When any slave shall be convicted of either of the felonies created by the thirty seventh and thirty-eighth sections of this act, he or she shall suffer death without benefit of clergy, or at the discretion of the court, shall be sentenced to be transported out of this State, and beyond the limits of the United States, under such restrictions and upon such conditions as good policy and the public safety at the time shall require.
1802 c 618 s 6 Slaves returning voluntarily from transportation to suffer death; and if brought in by his owner &c. to be forfeited.
42. Whenever a slave shall be transported in consequence of the provisions of this act, either by the owner or the State, and such slave shall ever thereafter voluntarily return to, and be found in the State, such slave shall suffer death without benefit of clergy, upon due conviction thereof; and if any slave so transported shall be brought into any county in this State by his or her master or mistress, or by any other person, such slave shall be forfeited (on proof thereof) to the county into which the same may be brought, and the said slave shall be again transported by order of the county court, and sold for the use of the county.
1783 c 190 s 1 2, 3. Slav's f'r trivi'l offences to be tried before a justice of the peace.
43. Where any slave shall commit any misdemeanor or offence which is not by law declared capital, and which in the opinion of the justice or justices, before whom such offending slave may be carried for examination, shall appear to be of so trivial a nature as not to deserve a greater punishment than a single justice of the peace is empowered by this act to inflict, such justice shall, and he is hereby authorised and empowered forthwith to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to compel the attendance of witnesses, and proceed immediately upon the trial of such slave in a summary way, and to pass sentence and award execution; provided, the punishment extends no further than by ordering the offender to be publicly whipped not exceeding forty lashes: and where the offence for which any slave shall be apprehended, shall appear to the justice or justices to be of such a nature as to deserve any other or greater punishment, such offending slave shall be committed to jail, and stand his or her trial by the proper court having jurisdiction of such offence: Provided, That upon all trials of slaves before any justice of the peace, for any misdemeanor under this act, any other of the justices of the county where such slave may be upon trial, may, if they think proper, sit upon and assist in the examination and trial.
1793 c 381 s 1 1816 c 912 s 1 1825 c 1291 Jurisdiction of county courts over offences committed by slaves.
1794 c 41.
44. In all cases of offences committed by slaves, of a higher degree than such as are cognizable by a justice of the peace, the Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, in their respective counties, shall have original exclusive jurisdiction, except in cases in which the punishment may extend to life, and except also, in cases of felonies within the benefit of clergy; and trials of slaves in the county courts, shall be conducted under the same rules, regulations and restrictions as the trials of freemen.
1816 c 912 s 1 1825 c. 1291 Jurisdiction of superior c'urts over offences committed by slaves.
45. In all cases in which a slave shall be charged with the commission of an offence, the punishment whereof may extend to life, or with the commission of a felony within the benefit of clergy, the Superior Courts of Law shall have exclusive jurisdiction, within their respective counties; and the trial shall be conducted under the same rules, regulations and restrictions, as trials of freemen for a like offence are now conducted, except as may be herein otherwise provided.
1816 c 912 s 2 1822 c 1130 s 2 Their cases may be removed as the cases of freedom.
46. Such cases may be removed for trial to an adjoining county, upon affidavit of the owner, or in his absence, of the counsel of such slave or slaves, in the same manner as causes may now beremoved by freemen; and if it shall appear to the presiding judge, by affidavit or otherwise,
that such slave or slaves cannot have a fair trial, in the county wherein the offence is charged to have been committed, it shall and may be lawful for such judge to order the removal of such cause to an adjacent county for trial, notwithstanding the master or owner of such slave or slaves may neglect or refuse to make an application to the court for that purpose.
1793 c 381 s 1 1831 c 30 s 5 Slaves entitled to trial by jury in the county and sup'rior courts.
47. In all cases where the county or superior courts shall have jurisdiction of offences committed by slaves, the slave charged shall be entitled to a trial by a jury of good and lawful men, owners of slaves.
1816 c 912 s 3 1818 c 972. For a capital offence must be tried on indictment and entitled t challeng jurors.
48. A slave shall not be tried for a capital offence but on presentment or indictment of the grand jury; and on his trial for such capital offence, shall by himself, his master or counsel have the same right to challenge jurors, that a freeman is now entitled to by law.
1816 c 912 s 4 1825 c 1291 Slaves allowed the benefit of clergy.
49. A slave convicted of a clergyable offence, shall be entitled to the benefit of clergy, in like manner with a freeman, and when he shall pray for the same, the court shall have power to direct and adjudge such corporal punishment short of death or dismemberment as to the court shall seem right, under all the circumstances of the case; and the entry of such judgment shall have the same legal effects and consequences, as if the slave or slaves were burned in the hand, as in the case of a freeman convicted of a similar offence.
1793 c 381 s 2 Owner to have notice of trial.
50. When a slave shall be apprehended, for any offence the punishment whereof may affect life, member or limb, it shall be the duty of the sheriff, and he is hereby required, to serve the owner of such slave, if known, with notice of trial ten days previous thereto (which notice shall be proved to the court) in order that the owner may have an opportunity of defending the said slave; and the costs of said notice, and all other costs attending the trial of any slave so apprehended, where the owner or owners shall be known, shall be paid by the said owner or owners; provided the said slave, if a freeman, would be liable to the payment thereof. And in case of refusal to pay the same, process may issue from the clerk of the court to compel payment in the same manner as for other costs.
1793 c 381 s 3 Where owner cannot be found court shall appoint counsel.
51. When the owner of any slave to be tried by virtue of this act, shall not be known, or cannot be discovered or ascertained, or shall reside out of this S ate, it shall and may be lawful for the court, and they are hereby authorised and required, to appoint counsel to appear for and in behalf of the prisoner, who shall be allowed the same fees as the attorney for the State is allowed for criminal prosecutions. After which they may proceed to trial in the same manner as if the owner had been notified, agreeable to the directions of this act; in which case the fees for the counsel, clerk and sheriff, shall be paid by the county in which the court is held in the same manner as other county charges.
1777 c 115 s 42 1821 c 1123. Against whom slaves and other persons of colour may be witnesses.
52. All negroes, Indians, mulattoes, and all persons of mixed blood, descended from negro and Indian ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person) whether bond or free, shall be deemed and taken to be incapable in law to be witnesses in any case whatsoever, except against each other. In all pleas of the State where the defendant may be a negro, Indian or mulatto, or person of mixed blood, descended from negro, or Indian ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person) whether such defendant be bond or free, the evidence of a negro or negroes, Indian or Indians, mulatto or mulattoes, and of all persons of mixed blood, descended from negro and Indian ancestors to the fourth generation, inclusive (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person) whether the person or persons whose evidence is offered, be bond or free, shall be admissible and the witness competent, subject, nevertheless, to be excluded upon any other grounds of incompetency which may exist.
1741 c 35 s 42 Court to give a charge to a negro, &c. examined as a wi ness.
53. On the trial of any slave, charged with committing capital or other offences, the judge or presiding magistrate, sitting on such trial, shall, before the examination of any negro, mulatto or Indian, charge such to declare the truth.
1741 c 35 s 41 Penalty for perjury by a negro. 1831 c 12.
54. If any negro, mulatto or Indian, bond or free, shall, upon any trial where he may be examined as a witness, commit wilful and corrupt perjury, he or she shall, upon convictien thereof, be sentenced to receive the same punishment as is imposed upon a freeman for the commission of the same offence.
1831 c 30 s 1. In cases of insurrection &c. a commission of Oyer and Terminer may issue.
55. In all cases of insurrection or rebellion, or of conspiracy to make insurrection, or to murder or rebel, or any such comtemplated conspiracy, insurrection or rebellion, of any slave or slaves, upon the information and at the request of any five justices of the peace of the county in which such conspiracy, insurrection or rebellion shall happen or may be contemplated, the Governor for the time being, shall be authorised and have power to issue a commission of Oyer and Terminer, to any one of the judges of the Superior Courts of Law; and in case the said judges are necessarily engaged on their circuits, the Governor shall be authorised and have power to issue a commission to one of the judges of the Supreme Court, whose duty it shall be to hold said court forthwith, and who shall be clothed with all the powers necessary for the trial of all such slave or slaves, as may be charged with any of the before mentioned offences.
1831 c 30 s 2 Compensation to judges and prosecuting officer.
56. Every judge holding a Court of Oyer and Terminer, and the prosecuting officer in behalf of the State attending the said court, shall be entitled to receive the same compensation as may be allowed by law generally for holding and attending a term of a Superior Court.
1831 c 30 s 3 Right of appeal to the supreme court.
57. The prisoner or prisoners who shall be tried before any Court of Oyer and Terminer, shall have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court under the rules and regulations now prescribed by law for appeals.
1836 c 30 s 4 Judges may in certain cases continue the indictment till the regular term of the superior court.
58. When the prisoner who shall be indicted before a Court of Oyer and Terminer shall, upon affidavit of himself or any other person, shew such circumstances and facts to the court as would induce the judge in the regular courts of this State to remove the trial of said indictment out of the county, the judge holding such Court of Oyer and Terminer may, in his discretion, continue the said indictment, and commit or bind over the prisoner, as the case may require, for trial at the next Superior court for said county, when the same shall be disposed of according to the rules and regulations in force for the trial of such offences.
1830 c 9 s 1 How slaves may be emancipated.
59. Any inhabitant of this State desirous to emancipate any slave or slaves, shall file a petition, in writing in some one of the Superior Courts of this State, setting forth, as near as may be, the name, sex, and age of each slave intended to be emancipated, and praying permission to to emancipate the same; and the court before whom such petition shall be filed, shall grant the prayer thereof on the following conditions, and not otherwise, viz. That the petitioner shall shew that he has given public notice of his intention to file such petition at the court house of the county, and in the State Gazette, for at least six weeks before the hearing of such petition; and that the petitioner shall enter into bond with two securities, each to be good and sufficient, payable to the State of North Carolina, in the sum of one thousand dollars for each slave named in the petition, conditioned that the said slave or slaves shall honestly and correctly demean him, her or themselves, while he, she or they shall remain within the State of North Carolina, and that he, she or they will, within ninety days after granting the prayer of the petitioner to emancipate him, her or them, leave the State of North Carolina, and never afterwards come within the same: Provided nevertheless, That no such emancipation shall in any manner whatever invalidate or affect the rights or claims of any creditor of such petitioner.
1830 c. 9 s 2 Emancipated slaves to leave the state in 90 days.
60. Any emancipation, granted to any slave or slaves, as herein directed, shall be upon the express condition that he, she or they will leave the State within ninety days from the granting thereof, and never will return within the State afterwards.
1880 c 9 s 3. Slaves may be emancipated by last will.
61. It shall be lawful for any person by his or her last will and testament to direct and authorise his or her executor or executors, to cause to be emancipated any slave or slaves pursuant to this act; and such bequest or authority shall be good and available in law and equity, and shall justify said executor or executors in emancipating such slave or slaves at any time thereafter; provided, he, she or they, file his, her or their petition, and pursue the directions of this act in the same manner as if he, she or they, were the absolute owners of such slave or slaves: and provided further, that nothing herein contained shall be taken or held to interfere with the claims of creditors, or exempt any slave directed to be emancipated, from liability to the claims of creditors: and provided further, that any slave emancipated by an executor pursuant to the directions of the testator, shall be emancipated on the same conditions and under the same liabilities as herein before set forth: Provided further, That no permission shall be granted to any executor or executors to emancipate any slave or slaves under the directions of the last will and testament of his or their testator, before, the expiration of two years from and after the probate of said last will and testament, unless the said executor or executors, shall enter into bond with approved security to the State of North Carolina, in double the value of the slave or slaves proposed to be emancipated, conditioned to be answerable to the creditors of his, her or their testator for the value of the said slave or slaves.
1830 c 9 s 4 Slaves over 50 may be emancipated for meritorious services.
62. It may be lawful to emancipate, upon petition filed, and under the order of any Superior Court of Law in this State, any slave over the age of fifty years, provided his or her owner, shall prove, by his own oath or otherwise, to the satisfaction of the court and jury, that said slave has performed meritorious services (which meritorious services must consist in more than mere general performance of duty:) Provided nevertheless, That the petitioner shall swear that he or she has not received in money or otherwise the price or value, or any part thereof, of said slave, or been induced to petition for his or her emancipation in consideration for any price paid therefor, or to be paid: and provided further, that before such slave shall be emancipated, the petitioner shall give bond and good security, in the sum of five hundred dollars, payable to the State of North Carolina, that said slave shall honestly and correctly demean him or herself so long as he or she shall remain in the State, and shall not become a parish charge; which bond may be sued upon in the name of the State to the use of the poor, or of any person injured by the mal-conduct of such slave.
1830 c 9 s 5 Emancinatpated slaves not leaving the state or returning to be arrested and sold.
63. If any slave shall refuse or neglect to leave the State within ninety days after permission to emancipate him or her has been granted as aforesaid by any Superior Court, or shall ever come within the State after having left it, it shall be the duty of any justice of the peace of any county wherein said slave may be found, to issue a warrant to arrest said slave, and he shall, upon proper broof being made of his or her having violated the provisions of this act, commit him or her to the jail of the county, there to remain until the next ensuing term of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, where an issue shall be made up and immediately tried, whether the accused has violated the provisions of this act; and upon the finding of the Jury that the accused has so done, he, she or they shall, by the said Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, be ordered to be sold, which sale shall vest an absolute right of property in the purchaser in and to the accused, and the proceeds thereof be equally divided between the informer and the wardens of the poor of the county.
We decided to divide the teams by gender, but keep an even mix of novice and varsity. Jordan and Holly, if I'm not mistaken, with the fixed erg screens we have enough ergs to accommodate all the men on one team. Please let me know if the number of ergs available is less than 18 (including the 2 owned by the ARC).
Formal practices run T/TR/F. Each week, one coach will assign a long distance erg piece to the entire team (around 1-2hrs, something similar to steady state). That piece should be completed with another rower, but if schedules do not mix, completion individually is acceptable. Erg piece will be due by Monday evening. The following weeks erg piece will be given out on Tuesday.
1830 c 9 s 6 In such case bond may be sued on.
64. If any slave shall refuse or neglect to leave the State as aforesaid, or shall ever come within the same after having left it, it shall and may be lawful for any person to bring suit, in the name of the State, for the joint use of himself and the wardens of the poor of the county, and to be applied by them to the support of the poor of said county, upon the bond which may have been given in pursuance of the provisions of this act.
1830 c 9 s 7 Grand jury to present all empancipated slaves violati'g this act.
65. It shall be the duty of all grand juries within this State, to make presentment of all slaves who may hereafter be emancipated, who may violate the provisions of this act; and upon such presentment, it shall be the duty of the prosecuting officer of the county wherein the presentment may be made, to prosecute such slave as herein before provided.
1830 c. 9
66. No slave shall be set free but according to the provisions of this act.
1826 c 21 s 1 No free negro &c. to migrate into this state, 20 days after notice to remove from the State, or to be held to labour for 10 years or pay $500.
67. It shall not be lawful for any free negro, or mulatto to migrate into this State: and if he or she shall do so, contrary to the provisions of this act, and being thereof informed, shall not within twenty days thereafter, remove out of the state, he or she being thereof convicted in manner hereinafter directed, shall be liable to apenalty of five hundred dollars; and upon failure to pay the same, within the time prescribed in the judgment awarded against such person or persons, he or she shall be liable to be held in servitude, and at labor for a term of time not exceeding ten years, in such manner and upon such terms as may be prescribed by the court awarding such sentence; and the proceeds arising therefrom, shall be paid over to the county trustee for county purposes: Provided, That in case any free negro or mulatto shall pay the penalty of five hundred dollars, according to the provisions of this act, it shall be the duty of such free negro, or mulatto to remove him or herself out of this state within twenty days thereafter, and for every such failure, he or she shall be subject to the like penalty, as is prescribed for a failure to remove in the first instance.
1826 c 21 s 2 How to proceed against a free negro &c. coming into this State.
68. If any free negro, or mulatto, shall come into this State as aforesaid, he or she may be arrested upon a warrant from any justice of the peace, and carried before any justice of the peace of the county in which he or she may be arrested; who is hereby authorised and required to examine into the case; and if, upon such examination, it shall appear to him that the said free negro, or mulatto has come into this State contrary to the provisions of this act, he shall bind him or her over to the next county court of said county which shall happen thereafter, taking such security for his or her appearance as may be reasonable; and upon neglecting or refusing to give such security, the said justice shall commit such free negro or mulatto to the jail of the county, there to be confined until the next county court, unless, in the mean time, he or she shall give security as aforesaid: and at the said court, it shall be the duty of the said court, to inquire into the case; and if it shall appear to them that the said free negro or mulatto has migrated into this state contrary to the provisions of this act, they shall enter judgment against him or her for the aforesaid penalty, and may award execution thereon; and if he or she shall have no property, or not sufficient to satisfy the said debt, the said court shall adjudge, that the said free negro or mulatto shall be hired out for a term of time not exceeding that prescribed in the 67th section of this act, in such manner and upon such terms as may seem expedient to the said court.
1826 c 21 s 3 After term of service to remove under like penalties.
69. If after the expiration of the term of service for which such free negro or mulatto, shall have been held in servitude, he or she shall remain in this state for thirty days, such free negro, or mulatto, shall be liable to the same penalties and punishments as are prescribed in the 67th and 68th sections of this act.
1826 c 21 s 4 Penalty on persons bringing free negro &c. into this tate.
70. Any person who shall bring into this State by water or land any free negro or mulatto, shall forfeit and pay for every such person, so brought into the state, the sum of five hundred dollars, to be recovered by action of debt in the name of the State, for the use of the county where the offence shall be committed: Provided, That this section shall not extend to masters of vessels bringing into this State any free negro or mulatto, employed on board and belonging to said vessel, and who shall therewith depart, nor to any person travelling in or through this State having any free negro, or mulatto, as a servant, and who shall, with such person, depart out of the State.
1826 c 21 s 5 Vagabo d free negroes &c. how to be d'alt with.
71. If any free negro, or mulatto, in any county of this State, who is able to labour, shall be found spending his or her time in idleness and dissipation, or having no regular or honest employment or occupation which he or she is accustomed to follow, it shall and may be lawful for any citizen to apply to a justice of the peace of said county; and upon affidavit to obtain a warrant to arrest such person and bring him or her before some justice of said county; and if upon examination of the cause, it shall appear to said justice that the said free negro or mulatto comes within the provisions of this act, the said justice shall bind him or her with reasonable security to appear at the next county court of said county; and in case he or she shall fail to give security, such free negro or mulatto shall be committed to the jail of the county until the next county court thereafter; and it shall be the duty of the said court, if upon examination of the case, he or she shall come within the meaning of this act, to require such free negro or mulatto to enter into bond with sufficient security, in such sum as may be considered by the court reasonable, payable to the State of North Carolina, conditioned for his or her good behaviour and industrious, peaceable deportment for one year: and in case he or she shall fail to give such security, or shall not pay the costs and charges of the prosecution, it shall be lawful for the said court, and they are hereby required to hire out such free negro, or mulatto for a term of time to service and labour, which to them may seem reasonable and just, and calculated to reform him or her to habits of industry and morality, not exceeding three years for any one offence.
1826 c 21 s 6 Money arising from the hire of free negr'es &c. to be paid to the county trustee.
72. All sums of money which may arise under the provisions of this act, from the hire of free negroes, or mulattos, shall be paid to the county trustree for county uses.
1826 c 21 s 7 County Court may bind out the children of free negr'es in certain cases.
73. The justices of the Courts of Pleas and quarter Sessions, in each of the counties of this State, shall have power, in cases where it may appear expedient, to bind out the children of free negroes or mulattoes, where the parent with whom such children may live, does or shall not habitually employ his or her time in some honest, industrious occupation.
1826 c 21 s 8 P' s' to whom free negroes are hired to feed, clothe & employ them, and not to remove them from the county.
74. All persons with whom any free negro or mulatto may be held to service under this act, shall, and they are hereby required to provide him or her with good and sufficient clothing and food, treat him or her with humanity, and teach him or her some mechanical trade, or some useful and industrious employment, during the term for which such free negro, or mulatto may be compelled to serve: he or she shall not be removed from the county by such master or any other person, and shall be produced to the county court at the expiration of the term of service as aforeaaid, or whenever thereto required by them: and if any such master or mistress shall violate this act, he or she may be indicted for such offence in any court of the county, where such offence may be committed; and on conviction thereof, may be fined or imprisoned at the discretion of the
court: and in case such free negro or mulatto shall runaway before the expiration of his or her term of service, he or she shall be compelled to serve, after the said expiration, such a length of time as he or she shall have absented him or herself.
1826 c 21 s 9 Free negroes to have a trial by jury.
75. In all cases arising under the 67th, 68th, 69th and 71st sections of this act, the free negro, or mulatto, who is charged with an offence, upon application to the court for that purpose, shall have a right to have the facts of his or her case tried by a jury upon an issue or issues made up under the direction of the court for that purpose.
1826 c 21 s 10 Who shall be esteemed free negroes &c.
76. All free mulattoes descended from negro ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, shall come within the provisions of this act.
1826 c 21 s 11 Grand juries to be charged and to make presentm'nt of cases under this act.
77. It shall be the duty of the several county attornies in this State, to give in charge the 67th, 68th, 69th and 71st sections of this act to the grand jurors; and it is hereby made their duty to present all cases in their county arising under the said sections within the knowledge of either of them; and the said attornies are hereby required in all cases arising under the provisions of the said sections, to prosecute for and on behalf of the State: and it shall be the duty of the several courts of this State, before whom any proceedings may be had under the said sections, so to construe the same as to prohibit the evils intended to be remedied; and they are hereby authorised and required to make all necessary rules and regulations, according to the usual course of justice, which may be required for the purposes and objects of the said sections of this act.
1830 c 14 Free negroes &c. going from this State to other States to return in 90 days.
78. If any free negro or person of colour who may be a resident of this State, shall migrate from this State and go into any other State, and shall be absent for the space of ninety days or more, it shall not be lawful for such free negro or person of colour to return to this State; and if any free negro or person of colour shall violate this section, he shall be liable to the same penalties as are prescribed for the punishment of free negroes and persons of colour who migrate to this State: Provided, that no person shall incur the penalties or disabilities prescribed in this section, if he or she shall have been prevented from so returning to this State by sickness or other unavoidable occurrence.
1830 c 4 s 3. Free negroes not to inter marry with slaves.
79. It shall not be lawful for any free negro or free person of colour to intermarry or cohabit and live together as man and wife with any slave; and any free negro or person of colour so intermarrying or cohabiting and living as man and wife with a slave, shall be liable to indictment, and upon conviction shall be fined and imprisoned or whipt at the discretin of the court; the whipping not to exceed thirty-nine lashes: Provided, That this section shall not extend to any case where an intermarriage or cohabiting or living together took place before the passing of this act.
1823 c 1229 Assault by a free person of colour with intent to commit a rape on a white woman punishable with death.
80. Any person of colour convicted, by due course of law, of an assault with intent to commit a rape upon the body of a white female, shall suffer death without benefit of clergy.
1830 c 10 s 2 Free negroes &c. not to gamble with slaves.
81. It shall not be lawful for any free negro, mulatto or person of mixed blood, descended from negro ancestors to the fourth generation inclusive (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person) to play at any game af cards, dice, nine pins, or any game of chance or hazard, whether for money, liquor or any kind of property, or not, with any slave or slaves; and any free negro, mulatto or person of mixed blood as aforesaid, so offending, shall, upon conviction before any court having jurisdiction, receive a whipping, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes on his or her bare back.
1830 c 10 s 3 Free negroes, &c. not to suffer slaves to g'mble, in their houses &c.
82. If any free negro, mulatto or person of mixed blood as aforesaid, shall knowingly suffer any slave or slaves to play at any game of cards, dice, nine-pins or any game of chance or hazard, whether for money, liquor, or any kind of property, or not, in his or her house, or in the yard, field or garden attached or belonging to his or her house, he or she shall be liable to indictment in any court having jurisdiction; and upon conviction, the free negro, mulatto or person of mixed blood as aforesaid, shall receive a whipping on his or her bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes.
1787 c 287 s 2 Free negroes &c. not to entertain slaves in their houses at certain times.
83. If any free negro or mulatto, shall entertain any slave in his or her house during the sab-bath, or in the night between sun set and run-rise, he or she shall, for entertaining such slave, be subject to a fine of two dollars for the first offence, and four dollars for every subsequent offence, to be recovered on conviction before any one justice of the peace, and applied to the use of the poor of the county in which the offence shall be committed, saving to the party the right of appealing.
1826 c 13 s 4 Slaves not to trade with other slaves in prohibited articles. Penalty
84. If any slave shall buy or receive from any slave or slaves, or shall sell or deliver to any slave or slaves any of the property prohibited to be bought by or received from, or to be sold or delivered to any slave by any free white person, by the laws of this State, he or she, on conviction thereof before any justice of the peace, shall receive on his or her bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes, well laid on by any constable of said county, or other person appointed for that purpose.
1826 c 13 s 5 1828 c. 32 s 2 Free negroes, &c. not to trade with slaves in prohibit'd articles Penalty.
85. If any free negro, or mulatto, shall trade with any slave, either by buying from, or selling to him or her any article of property prohibited to be sold to or bought from a slave by any white free person by the laws of this State, he or she may be presented by indictment in the county or Superior Courts; and on conviction, shall receive not less than thirty-nine lashes on his or her bare back.
1826 c 13 s 7 1828 c 32 s3. P'rties entitl'd to an appeal.
86. Either of the parties or master of the slave convicted under either of the two preceding sections shall be entitled to an appeal from the judgment of the justice or of the county court; and no indictment shall be prosecuted for so trading with a slave, unless the indictment be commenced within twelve months from the time of the offence committed.
1831 c 28 1830 c 7. Free negroes &c. not to peddle &c. without license.
87. It shall not be lawful for any free negro, mulatto, or free person of color, to hawk or peddle within the limits of any county in this State, without first obtaining a license from the court of
Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the county in which they propose to hawk or peddle; which license shall be granted for one year only, and only when seven or more justices are present, and upon satisfactory evidence of the good character of the applicant, to be approved by said court; and for issuing such license the clerk shall be entitled to demand and receive from such applicant the sum of eighty cents: Provided nevertheless, That nothing in this act shall be construed so as to allow such person coming from another State to peddle in this State; and if any free negro, or free person of color shall offend against this section of this act, he or she shall be subject to indictment.
1831 c. 13 s 1 Fines on free persons of colour unable to pay how to be enforced.
88. When any free person of colour shall be convicted of any offence against the criminal laws of the State, and sentenced to pay a fine, and it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court, that the free person of colour so convicted is unable to pay the fine imposed, the court shall direct the sheriff of the county where such fine is imposed to hire out the free person of colour so convicted to any person who will pay the fine for his services for the shortest space of time.
1831 c 13 s 2. Directions to sheriff in hiring him out.
89. It shall be the duty of the sheriff, during the week of court or as soon thereafter as convenient, publicly, at the door of the court house, to hire out such free person of colour, to any person who will pay the fine so imposed for his services for the shortest space of time, and to take from the person so hiring bond and security, in double the amount of the fine so paid, payable in the same manner, and with the same conditions for the proper treatment of the free person of colour during the time for which he is so hired, as are now contained in apprentice bonds, except to teach them to read and write.
1831 c 13 s 3 Persons hiring t' h've th' same authorities and liabiliti's as masters of apprentices.
90. The person to whom the sheriff shall so hire any free person of colour, shall, during the time for which the hiring is so made, have the same authority over and the same right to controul and require the services of such free person of colour, and shall be liable in all respects to the same obligations and duties as masters now have, and are liable to in cases of apprentices.
1831 c 13 s 4 Duty of the sh'riff in hiring.
91. If no person can be found who will pay the fine so imposed, for the services of the free person of colour so fined, for a space of time not exceeding five years, then it shall be the duty of the sheriff to hire the free person of colour to any person who will pay the highest sum for his services for five years; which sum shall discharge the fine; and it shall be the duty of the sheriff, after deducting five per cent. commissions, to account for and pay over the money collected by virtue of this act as other fines: Provided always, That if any free person of colour, hired out under the provisions of this act, shall abscond or leave the service of his master before the expiration of his or her time, he or she shall be liable and bound to make up such time so elapsed by serving double the time thereof: And provided further, That the fine imposed shall in all cases be at least equal to the amount of the costs of such prosecution.
Text encoded by Apex Data Services, Inc. and Melissa Meeks
First edition, 2002
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
Slaves and Free Persons of Color. An Act Concerning Slaves and Free Persons of Color (North Carolina, 1855).
The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831)
The Confessions of Nat Turner is one of the most valuable and enigmatic sources in all of American slavery. There is nothing else like it. On the one hand, it offers an unparalleled portrait of the leader of the most deadly slave revolt in the United States, providing insight into Nat Turner's religious world. On the other hand, Thomas Gray's authorship of the Confessions makes it difficult to discern Turner's authentic voice within it. One way to interpret the Confession is to view it as an inventive collaboration between Gray, who wanted to make money, and Turner, who may well have regarded Gray's appearance in his jail cell as an opportunity to cast himself as a Christian prophet and martyr.
Thomas Gray, Confessions of Nat Turner (1831).
Primary Source Annotated Bibliography
Handler, Jerome S., and Tuite, Michael L. Jr. The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record.
This website presents a large collection of images and illustrations of the slave trade and slavery in Africa and the Americas from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The gallery is divided into useful categories, like work and resistance and it can be searched by keyword. Unlike many websites, Handler and Tuite's gallery includes a brief explanation and a full citation for the source of each image. Keep in mind that images and illustrations can and should be read in much the same way as textual documents—with an eye for detail, perspective, and what's in the background. A review of the website can be found within Teachinghistory.org.
Library of Congress. Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938.
This website contains the searchable text of thousands of interviews conducted with former slaves in the 1930s. The interviews are a rich source of oral history but must be read with care, since 70 years had passed since emancipation, and also because the men and women being interviewed might not have wanted to tell the whole story to the white men and women who interviewed them. Though historians have most often used these interviews to understand slavery from the perspective of those who lived through it, they are also a rich source for understanding black Southerners' memories of the Civil War and emancipation, and the joys and sorrows of freedom. A review of the website can be found within Teachinghistory.org.
Library of Congress. Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860.
An extensive collection put together by the Library of Congress, this website presents legal records relating to slavery in the United States before the Civil War. The dual character of slaves as people and property appears vividly in the law. Court records are among the richest sources of information about slavery, and they often document the struggle of individual slaves to achieve their freedom. For instance, this website includes material relating to the Amistad and Dred Scott cases, two famous but very different examples of enslaved people struggling to achieve their freedom. A review of the website can be found within Teachinghistory.org.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In Motion: The African American Migration Experience.
Produced by the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library, this website includes terrific short essays, maps, documents, and visual sources relating to the theme of migration and movement in African American history. While the forced migrations of the 18th and 19th centuries were integral to the history of American slavery, the great migrations of the late 19th and 20th centuries are equally integral to the story of African American freedom. This website offers a wealth of valuable information on the Atlantic and domestic slave trades, migration between North America and the Caribbean, the movements of runaway slaves to the northern states and Canada, and emigration to Liberia. A review of the website can be found within Teachinghistory.org.
Berlin, Ira, et al., eds. Free at Last: a Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. New York: New Press, 1992.
This pathbreaking collection of primary sources reveals the complex and wrenching history of the demise of slavery during the Civil War, seen through the eyes of Union and Confederate officials and soldiers as well as slaves and their families.
Blassingame, John, ed. Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1977.
This collection of primary sources concentrates on documents written from the perspective of slaves and former slaves, including many active in the abolitionist movement.
Rose, Willie Lee, Ed. A Documentary History of Slavery in North America. Athens: University of Georgia, 1999.
A useful collection of well-chosen primary documents ranging over the history of slavery in North America from the early 17th century through the 1850s.
Secondary Source Annotated Bibliography
Berlin, Ira. Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2003.
A sweeping study of the successive charter, plantation, revolutionary, and migration "generations" of enslaved people in North America from the early 17th century to the Civil War.
Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619-1877. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003.
The most complete yet still relatively brief synthesis of the rise and fall of slavery in colonial North America and the United States, balancing politics, economics, social relations, and culture.