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XI T H E R E S U L T I N G P A T T E R N O F S E P A R A T I O N SHORTLY AFTER THE REVOLUTION, AMERICANS BEGAN haphazardly but with detectable acceleration to legislate Negroes into an ever-shrinking corner of the American community. Indications that Negroes were becoming more than ever walled off from white men fell into a pattern which coincided, roughly, with patterns of change in the economics of southern agriculture, national and sectional feeling, antislavery, and fear of slave revolt. For ten years after the war there were some signs of relaxation, but then came a trend which included tighter restrictions upon slaves and especially free Negroes, separation of the races at places of social gathering, and the founding of all-Negro churches. The American interracial mold was hardening into its familiar ante-bellum shape. 1. THE HARDENING OF SLAVERY There was a period of uncertain eddying before the tide clearly turned. Before the mid-1790*5 many states extended to Negro slaves the right of trial by jury in capital cases.1 In harmony with the spread of humanitarian feeling, some states made their slave codes more humane and occasionally less restrictive.2 To prevent circumvention of their gradual emancipation laws, many northern states prohibited selling slaves out of state, thereby demonstrating 1. In the North, often in the gradual emancipation acts. Laws State N. Y., II, 122; Hening, ed., Statutes Va., XII, 345; Iredell and Martin, comps., Acts N.-C., II, 38, 56; Georgia provided that no slave could be compelled to a second trial for the same offense: Laws State Ga. Since 1800, 133. 2. Hoadly et al.t eds., Recs. State Conn., IX, 91-92; Laws State N. Y., II, 675-79; Hening, ed., Statutes Va., XII, 182-83; R. H. Taylor, "Humanizing the Slave Code of North Carolina," N. C. Hist. Rev., 2 (1925), 323-25; but a 1798 act for proper maintainance of aged and crippled slaves (Iredell and Martin, comps., Acts N.-C.f II, 120-21) aimed more at their wandering about and becoming nuisances than at humanitarian treatment. [403] W H I T E O V E R B L A C K that they valued liberation of Negroes over riddance of them. Delaware drew an interesting distinction by requiring special license for sale of slaves to the Carolinas, Georgia, and the West Indies; two years later Maryland and Virginia were included.3 Northern states and Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, as late as 1800, attached severe penalties to kidnapping of free Negroes, a not uncommon crime few people were willing to condone . Feeling on this matter was strong and lawmakers meant business : Delaware, thirty-nine lashes, both ears to the pillory for one hour and then cut off; Virginia, mandatory death without benefit of clergy. A North Carolina man was executed for this offense in i8o6.4 After 1800, however, slave codes in the South were tightened up as occasion dictated, though the brutal punishments of an earlier day remained discarded, at least from the statute books. The principal occasion, of course, was Gabriel's plot, but while this was an important turning point, the pattern of restrictions on Negroes makes clear that Gabriel was not "the mainspring and chief mover" behind the new mood among white men. Two years earlier, for example, Virginia clamped down hard on harboring of fugitive slaves. As late as 1804 Virginia restricted nighttime religious meetings of slaves but the next year revised the law to permit whites to take their slaves with them to public worship. A special act in February 1808 provided strong penalties for burning stables, barns, stacks, ricks, and houses.5 Hiring out had always been regarded with suspicion; a new Maryland act of 1787 curbing the practice was revealingly entitled "An ACT to prevent the inconveniencies arising from slaves being permitted to act as free." Virginia tightened regulations on slave hiring in 1792 but eased them slightly in 1808, perhaps because the practice was compellingly convenient in a region where many planters owned too many slaves. In 1794 North Carolina banned hiring out completely. Georgia forbade slaves working or transacting business for themselves in 3. For example, Hoadly et al., eds., Recs. State Conn., VII, 379; Laws State N. Y., II, 676; Acts Assembly N. J. (1788) , 487-88 (except to "neighbouring States") ; Laws Del, II, 884-85, 943. 4. Laws Del., II, 885, 1093...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469600765
Related ISBN
9780807834022
MARC Record
OCLC
861793501
Pages
696
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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