Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

For the prevention of thefts and robberies.

At a General Assembly, begun and held at Tarborough on the eighteenth Day of November, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-seven, and in the Twelfth Year of the Independence of the said State, being the first session of the Assembly. Richard Caswell, Esq., Governor.

CHAPTER VI.

An Act to Prevent Thefts and Robberies by Slaves, Free Negroes and Mulattoes.

Whereas it is represented that slaves and free negroes are encouraged to rob or steal from the inhabitants all kinds of produce, by the facility with which they may conceal and dispose of such produce to the masters of trading vessels in the several bays, harbours, creeks and rivers within this State:

I. Be it therefore Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby Enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this Act, it shall not be permitted for the master or commander of any vessel to entertain any slave, negro or mulatto on board such vessel at any time between sun-set and sun-rise, nor during the Sabbath day, unless such slave, negro or mulatto as shall belong to the vessel, or shall have a pass from his, her or their master or mistress, or from some justice of the peace, expressing the time when and the business for which they go on board: And if any slave, negro or mulatto who has not such pass, or is not statedly employed on board the vessel as one of the hands, shall be found on board any vessel in any bay, harbour, creek or river within this State, on the Sabbath day, or in the night between sunset and sun-rise, he shall be presumed to have been disposing of stolen goods; and the master or commander of such vessel on complaint and conviction before any two justices of the peace, shall be subject to a fine for entertainment of such slave, negro or mulatto of five pounds for the first offence, and ten pounds for every succeeding offence, to be applied to the use of the poor of the county in which such conviction shall be had: But any person dissatisfied with the judgment of the said two justices, shall have the right of appealing to the court of the county, the determination whereof shall be final; the person appealing to be subject to the same regulations as in the cases of other persons appealing from the judgment of a justice.

And whereas the property of many of the citizens of this State may be greatly affected by permitting a private intercourse between slaves and free negroes and mulattoes:

II. Be it Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any free negro or mulatto shall entertain any slave in his or her house during the Sabbath, or in the night between sun-set and sun-rise, he or she shall for entertaining such slave be subject to a fine of twenty shillings for the first offence, and forty shillings 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 same right of appealing as aforesaid. And in case the said free negro or mulatto shall not be able to pay the fine aforesaid, the constable who shall have attended at such conviction shall hire out said free negro or mulatto to the person who shall take him or her for the shortest space of time in payment of the said fine with costs, the said constable having previously advertised at least ten days at the door of the court house and other public places of the said county, that such negro or mulatto would be hired out for the purpose aforesaid; and the person who shall hire such free negro or mulatto, shall be bound to pay at the time and place of such hiring the amount of the fine with costs as aforesaid.

III. And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any free negro or mulatto shall from and after the passing this Act, intermarry or cohabit with any slave, without the consent of his or her master had in writing, and attested by two justices of the peace, such free negro or mulatto shall be liable and held to pay to the master or mistress of such slave the sum of ten pounds; and on failing to pay such sum, shall be held to service to the master or mistress of such slave for and during the term of one year.

Otherwise he will be dealt with as the law directs.

NOTICE. TAKEN UP AND COMMITTED TO THE COUNTY JAIL of Franklin county, North-Carolina, a mulatto man of medium brightness, about, from his appearance, twenty years of age, about six feet high, has a down look when spoken to, and not very intelligent.  No particular mark or marks on his person known of by which he might be otherwise described other than the above, with the exception of some fresh marks of the lash on his back.  He says he is a free man, by the name of Henry Valentine, was raised in the county of Granville, near Henderson, N.C., and left there to N.M. Harris’s in Nash county, where he remained until some few days since, when he came to Franklin.  He says the reason of his leaving Nash is, that the Volunteers were going to carry him to the war.  He has no free papers, and is badly clad.  His owner, if any, is requested to came and pay charges and take him away before the time limited for such, otherwise he will be dealt with as the law directs.  E.A. Gupton, Sh’ff.  June 24, 1861.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 3 July 1861.