Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER III.

1

NUMBER OF AMERICANS ENSLAVED.

The increase of the slave population in these
United States, for the fifty years ending in 1830,
has been as follows:
Census of

Slaves. Total population.
1790
697,697,

3,929,827. 1800 896,849,

5,305,925. 1810 1,191,364,

7,289,314. 1820 1,538,064,

9,638,181. 1830 2,010,436,

12,856,407. Hence, it appears, that, according to the ratio of increase between 1820, and 1830, there must have been in 1835, not less than 2,245,144 slavés in these United States.

The following table will show the increase of the
Whites and Blacks, on this ratio, in Delaware, Ma-
ryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, North Caro.
lína, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas
and Florida.
Whites.

Blacks.
1820
2,831,789,

1,653,727.
1830
3,660,548,

2,187,545. 1840 4,731,870,

2,893,700. 1850 6,116,720,

3,827,800. 1860 7,906,880,

5,063,400. 1870 10,220,900,

6,697,850. 1880 13,213,000,

8,859,950. 1890 17,079,000,

11,720,000. 1900 22,077,500,

15,503,000.

The ratio of increase of the Whites is 29.6 per cent; and of the Blacks 32. per cent. That The blacks should increase faster than the whites, is easily accounted for, from the fact, that the former class are increased by the latter, but the blacks cannot increase the whites.

If we set down the number of slaves now in the United States, at, say, 2,500,000; and add to these, in Brazil, 2,000,000, in the Spanish possessions, 300,000; in the French, 300,000; in the possessions of Portugal, Denmark, Holland, &c., 200,000. We have before us the appalling nuniber of more than FIVE MILLIONS of human beings prostrate beneath the hoof of a relentless tyranny, for no other crime than the color of their skins!

CHAPTER

IV.

CIVIL CONDITION OF THE ENSLAVED.

Color a Legal Evidence of Slavery. A white man may enslave any colored one, and, as between himself and the slave, the law does not require him to establish his claim; the slave is compelled to remain so, if he cannot prove his freedom. The'i Bouth Carolina Act of 1740, permits persons held as slaves and claiming to be free, to petition the judges of the Court of Common Pleas, who if they see cause may allow a guardian to bring an action for freedom against the master. The sequel of this law shows how poor is the encouragement for both the suitor and his guardian.

And if judgment shall be given for the plaintiff, a special entry shall be made, declaring that the ward of the plaintiff is free, and the jury shall assess damages which the

plaintiff's ward hath sustained, and the court shall give judgment and award execution against the defendant for such damages, with full cost of suit; but in case judgment shall be given for the defendant, the said court is hereby fully empowered to inflict such CORPORAL PUNISAMENT, NOT EXTENDING TO LIFE OR LIMB, on the ward of the plaintiff

, as they in their discretion shall think fit. Provided, that in any action or suit to be brought in pursuance of the direction of this act, THE BURDEN OF THE PROOF shall lay upon the plaintiff, and it shall be always presumed that every negro, Indian, mulatto, and mestizo, is a slave, unless the contrary be made to appear, (the Indians in amily with this government excepted, in which case, the burden of the proof shall be on the defendant.) 2 Brevard's Digest, 229, 30.

Virginia shows her hostility to the claim for freedorn by the following provision of her Revised Code:

For aiding and ubetting a slave in a trial for freedom, if the claimant shall fail in his suit, a fine of one hundred dollars is imposed.-1 Rev. Code, 482.

The only known exception to this principle of throwing the burden of proof upon the person claimed as a slave, is in North Carolina, where persons of mixed blood, by a decision of the court, are presumed to be free.

By this cruel presumption, free persons are constantly taken up on suspicion of being runaways, and after being in prison for some moi hs, are sold to pay their JAIL FEES.

Mental Instruction prohibited. South Carolina may lay claim to the earliest movement in legislation on this subject. In 1740, while yet a province, she enacted this law:

Whereas the having of slaves taught to write, or suffering them to be employed in writing, may be attended with great inconveniences, Be it enacted, That all and

every person and persons whatsoever, who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave or slaves to be taught to write, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe in any manner of writing whatsoever hereafter taught to write, every such person or persons shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds current money. 2 Brevard's Digest, 243.

Similar in Georgia, by act of 1770, except as to the penalty, which is twenty pounds sterling. Prince's Digesi, 455.

In the same state the following additional restraints were enacted in 1800 :

That assemblies of slaves, free negroes, mulattoes and mestizoes, whether composed of all or any of such description of persons, or of all or any of the same and of a proportion of white persons, met together for the purpose of mental instruction in a confined or secret place, &c. &c., is (are) declared to be an unlawful meeting, and magistrates, &c. &c., are hereby required, &c. to enter into such confined places, &c. &c., to break doors, &c. if resisted, and to disperse such slaves, free negroes, &c. &c., and the officers dispersing such unlawful assemblies, may inflict such corporal punishment, not exceeding twenty lashes, upon such slaves, free negroes, foc. as they may judge necessary, for DETERRING THEM FROM THE LIKE UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLAGE IN FUTURE. Brevard's Di.

gest, 254.

And another section of the same act declares

That it shall not be lawful for any number of free nec groes, mulattoes or mestizoes, even of slaves in company with white persons, to meet together for the purpose of mental instruction, either before the rising of the sun or after

the going down of the same. 2 Brevard's Digest, 254-5.

Virginia passed the following in 1819:

That all meetings or assemblages of slaves or free negroes or mulattoes mixing and associating with such slaves at any meeting house, or houses, or any other

place, &c. in the night, ar at any school or schools for teaching them reading or writing either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an unlawful assembly; and any justice of a county, &c. wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c. may issue his warrant directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c. may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corpo. ral punishment on the offender or offenders, at the descretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes.1 Rev. Code, 424-5.

Similar laws exist in most of the slave states, and in all, mental instruction is practically discouraged.

Prohibition of Religious Worship. Many extracts from the laws of the Southern States might be given under this head. The fol. lowing is but a specimen ; it is from the South Carolina Act of 1800 :

It shall not be lawful for any number of slaves, free negroes, mulattoes or mestizoes, even in company with white persons, to meet together and assemble for the purpose of mental instruction or religious worship, either before the rising of the sun or after the going down of the same.

And all magistrates, sheriffs, militia officers, &c. &c. are hereby vested with power, &c. for dispersing such assemblies, &c. 2 Brevard's Digest, 254–5.

Prohibition of Self-defence. If any slave shall presume to strike any white person, such slave, upon trial and conviction before the justice or justices, according to the directions of this act, shall for the first offence, suffer such punishment as the said justice or justices shall, in his or their discretion think fit, not extending to life or limb; and for the second of tence, suffer DEATH.

« PreviousContinue »