Conditions of Antebellum Slavery
Slavery Basics
Slavery and the Making of America

15 Slave Codes: Paraphrased

1. Virginia
I. 1650- all people (except Negroes) must be given firearms/ ammunition or be fined
by the governor and the council.
II. 1662- all children born in this country shall be seen as slave, depending on the status of the mother.
III.1667- should any child born a slave receive baptism; it doesn't change the fact they are still a slave.
IV.1682- any servant imported by land/ sea who had parents that were not Christian are viewed a slave.
V. 1705- any servant brought into this country who were not Christian in their native country are slaves.
VI.1705- should a slave resist his master and the master happens to kill them, the owner will be seen as
innocent and dismissed of all punishment.

2. South Carolina
I. 1712- by order of William Lord Craven, Palatine, and members of the General Assembly: all Negroes
mulattos, mestizos, indians that have been sold shall be declared as slaves, as well as their children.
II. 1712- authority states that if a master, mistress, overseer, gives permission for their slave to leave
the property and they leave their ticket, the slave shall be whipped.

3. Alabama
I. 1833 (section 31) any person that tries to teach any slave how to read and write shall receive a fine for no
more than 500 dollars.
II. 1833 (section 32) should any free slave write a pass for a slave, they shall receive 39 lashes on their bare
back and leave the state within 30 days.
III. 1833 (section 33) should any slave write a pass for a fellow slave, he/she shall receive 100 lashes upon their
bare back for the first act, 700 the next time.

4. Texas
I. 1853- should a slave plot to rebel, they shall be punished with death.
II. 1853- should a slave attempt to free a fellow slave, he/she shall be punished by being sent to jail for less than
three years by the caution of the jury.

5. Maryland
I. 1664- should any white woman marry a Negro, they shall serve under his master until his death.

6. Louisiana
I. 1724- should a slave strike his master, they shall be sentenced to death effective immediately.

Slaves.jpg runaway.jpg


Slave codes were established in the South as a way to control the activities of slaves. Slave codes were passed to monitor not only what slaves could do, but freed slaves as well. In some states, blacks were only allowed to work as domestic servants or in the field of agriculture where other laws made it illegal for blacks to live in towns and cities. Blacks were denied the right to vote or to possess firearms. However when slave codes became viewed as unconstitutional, the South returned them in the form of new laws: the Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow was a term used to stereotype blacks as a song and dance man team.However, in time, they too were seen as unconstitutional.


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