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New York Slave Code, 1730

New York Slave Code

New York Slave Code

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0212-78_V12_L1730_Ch560
Document Description
An Act for the more Effectual Preventing and Punishing the Conspiracy and Insurrection of Negro and other Slaves; for the better regulating them and for repealing the Acts herein Mentioned Relating thereto, 1730.
[Excerpts from:]
An Act for the more Effectual Preventing and Punishing the Conspiracy and Insurrection of Negro and other Slaves; for the better regulating them and for repealing the Acts herein Mentioned Relating thereto
Whereas many Mischiefs have been occasioned by the too great Liberty allowed to Negro and other Slaves and that some of the Acts relating thereto are Expired and others not fully answering the Good purposes thereby Intended, the General Assembly therefore pray it may be Enacted and be it Enacted by his Excellency the Governour the Council and the General Assembly,
and it is herby Enacted by the Authority of the same, that no Person or Persons do hereafter through out this Colony presume to trade or Traffick with any Slave or Slaves either in buying or selling without leave and consent of the Master or Mistress of Such Slave or Slaves on forfeiture of treble the Value of the thing or things traded for and also the sum of five pounds Current Lawfull mony to the Master or Mistress of Such Slave or Slaves for each offence to be recovered of Such Person or Persons so trading contrary to the true intent and meaning of this Act by Action of Debt in any Court of record within this colony where Such Sum or Sums in Cognizable and all Contracts and Bargains made with any Slave or Slaves shall be utterly void. And whereas notwithstanding Sundry Laws passed heretofore in this Colony for the purposes above Mentioned several evil disposed Persons having nothing in View but their private gain do Clandestinely trade and traffick with Slaves, for remedy whereof
Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid that if any person or Persons within this Colony shall from and after the Publication of this Act sell any rum or other strong Liquor to any Negro Indian or Mulato Slave or Slaves or shall buy or take in pawn from them any wares Merchandises apparel Tools Instruments or any other kind of goods whatever and shall thereof be accused by the Master or Mistress of Such Slave or Slaves, or by any other Person or Persons…shall forfeit and pay the Sum of fourty shillings
And be it further enacted by the same Authority that hereafter it Shall and may be Lawfull for any Master or Mistress to Punish his her or their Slave or Slaves for their Crimes and offences at discretion not Extending to Life or Limb.
And be it further Enacted by the Same Authority that it shall and may be Lawfull hereafter for every City town and Mannor within this Colony to have and appoint a Common whipper for any City town or Mannor within this Colony at their Common Council or Town Meeting to agree upon such Sum to be paid him by the Master or Mistress of Slaves, not Exceeding the sum of three shillings per head…
And for as much as the Number of Slaves in the Citys of New York and Albany as also within the Several Counties Towns and Mannors within this Colony doth daily increase, and that they have been often times guilty of Confederating together in running away & of other ill and Dangerous practices Be it therefore Enacted by the aforesaid Authority that it shall not hereafter be Lawfull for above three Slaves to meet together at any time or at any other Place then when it Shall happen they meet in some servile imployment for their Master of Mistresses profit and by their Masters or Mistresses Consent upon penalty of being whipt upon the naked Back at the discretion of any one Justice of the Peace not Exceeding forty Lashes for each offence
And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that hereafter no Slave or Slaves shall be allowed as Evidence or Evidences in any Matter Cause or thing whatsoever exception in Cases of Plotting or Confederacy among themselves…
And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that it shall not be lawful for any Slave or slaves to have or use any gun Pistoll sword Club or any other kind of Weapon whatsoever, but in the presence or by the Direction of his her or their Master or Mistress, and in their own Ground on Penalty of being whipt…not exceeding Twenty Lashes on the bare back
What is the purpose of this Act?
List three reasons why this Act is being passed?
Why do you think Negro slaves are specifically mentioned in this title?
To which members of society do these two paragraphs apply?
List two restrictions placed on interactions with slaves.
How are violators of this part of the law punished?
What are the only limitations placed on slave owners regarding the punishment of slaves?
How does this law make punishing slaves easier for the slave owners?
Why do you think this law places a limit on the amount a “whipper” can be paid?
List the three restrictions placed on slaves in the last section of the Slave Code.
What reasons are given for the first restriction mentioned in this section?
How are slaves punished for violating these restrictions?

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
White New Yorkers were divided over slavery even after the close of the American Revolution.  They remained divided over the issue of equal rights for blacks far longer.  While gradual emancipation proceeded according to state laws passed in 1799 and 1817, other laws and the 1821 state constitution barred large numbers of free blacks from voting.  New York's black abolitionists had many allies in the fight to end slavery nationwide, but found fewer supporters in their quest for equal voting rights in their own state.  Following the Civil War, many white New Yorkers resisted the national movement for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal voting rights for all men.  As late as 1869, a majority of the state's voters cast ballots in favor of retaining property qualifications that kept New York's polls closed to many blacks.  African American men did not obtain equal voting rights in New York until ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870.
Essential Question
How were slaves treated in New York?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the life of a slave in New York in the year 1730 using evidence from the document.