25 January 2017
So many records, so little time!
Out of the Box, Notes from the Archives @ The Library of Virginia had a recent blog post, A Last Resort: Madison County Reenslavement Petitions. Though there are many facets of law regarding those enslaved that I am familiar with, I wasn’t familiar with this one.
In 1856, the General Assembly decided that free African Americans could petition their county or city court to be enslaved. These individuals had to be at least twenty-one if male or eighteen if female and they could choose their own master. Once the General Assembly accepted the petition, the only difference between someone who was born a slave and someone who was enslaved as an adult was that the children of a woman born while she was free remained free.
I did a search in Virginia Heritage and found that there are 9 entries where we find the term reenslavement (Madison, Northumberland, Powhatan, and Norfolk Counties amongst others are mentioned).
A book written by Ted Maris-Wolf, Family Bonds – Free Blacks and Re-enslavement Law in Antebellum Virginia (available for purchase) covers this topic further.
I have yet to come across a similar law in North Carolina nor in other southern states, have you?
What law(s) have you come across that you were unprepared for?
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