What were some of the laws passed by colonial and state legislatures regarding slaves?

1 Answer
Mar 24, 2016

The 1712 South Carolina slave code included provisions such as:


Slaves were forbidden to leave owner's property, unless accompanied by a white person, or obtaining permission. If a slave leaves the owner's property with out permission, "every white person" is required to chastise such slaves

Any slave attempting to run away and leave the colony (later, state) receives the death penalty

Any slave who evades capture for 20 days or more is to be publicly whipped for the first offense; branded with the letter R on the right cheek for the second offense; and lose one ear if absent for thirty days for the third offense; and castrated for the fourth offense.

Owners refusing to abide by the slave code are fined and forfeit ownership of their slaves

Slave homes are to be searched every two weeks for weapons or stolen goods. Punishment for violations escalate to include loss of ear, branding, and nose-slitting, and for the fourth offense, death.

No slave shall be allowed to work for pay, or to plant corn, peas or rice; or to keep hogs, cattle, or horses; or to own or operate a boat; to buy or sell; or to wear clothes finer than '* cloth'

The South Carolina slave code was revised in 1739 with the following amendments:[5]

No slave shall be taught to write, work on Sunday, or work more than 15 hours per day in Summer, and 14 hours in Winter.

Willful killing of a slave exacts a fine of 700 pounds, and "passion" killing 350 pounds
The fine for concealing runaway slaves is one thousand dollars and a prison sentence of up to one year

A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for employing any Black or slave as a clerk

A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed on anyone selling or giving alcoholic beverages to slaves

A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for teaching a slave to read and write, and death is the penalty for circulating incendiary literature

Freeing a slave is forbidden, except by deed, and after 1820, only by permission of the legislature [Georgia required legislative approval after 1801]