Chapter 107. Slaves and Free Negroes, section 11.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

11. Free negroes to procure like certificates. Penalty for neglect.  Free negroes working in any of said swamps [“the Great Dismal Swamp, or in the swamp which lies between Lees’ mill in the county of Washington, and Pamlico river in the county of Beaufort, or in the swamp which lies between Juniper creek, and the lands of Charles Pettigrew, in the county of Tyrrell”] shall procure from the clerks of the proper counties, a similar description of themselves, certified as above directed, and keep it ready at all times when so engaged to be exhibited. And if any free person of color shall willfully work in any of said swamps without such copy, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor; and, on conviction, may be punished at the discretion of the court, by fine, whipping, and imprisonment, or any of them.

The description of the swamps is found in section 10, as are the specifications for the document free colored workers were required to carry: “an exact description of the [person,] specifying the name and residence of the person intending so to employ the [person,] the height, complexion, and every peculiar mark of description … and such written description shall be entered by the clerk of the court of pleas and quarter sessions on the book kept for that purpose.”

Revised Code of North Carolina, 1854.