ACTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

CHAP. DCCXYVV.

 

An Act respecting Slaves.

 

[Note: spelling left as in original.]

 

Sect. I.  BE IT ENACTED by the Council and General Assembly of the state, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same That every negro, indian, mulatto or mestee, within this state, who, at the time of passing this act, is a slave for his or her life, shall continue such during his or her life; unless he or she, shall be manumitted and set free in the manner prescribed by law,.

 

2 . And be it enacted,  That no slave shall be admitted a witness against any person in any matter,  cause, or thing whatsoever, civil or criminal, except in criminal cases, in which the evidence of one slave shall be admitted for or again­st another slave.

 

3.  And  be it enacted,  That no person or persons shall trade or traffic, either in buying, bartering or selling, with any slave, without the. leave or consent of the master or mistress of such slave, on pain of forfeiting three dollars, for such offence, to the master or mistress of such slave, to be recovered, with costs, against the person or persons so trading contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, by action of debt, in any court having cognizance thereof; and also, that every contract or bargain, which shall be so made, with any slave, without the permission or consent of his or her master or mistress, shall be void and of no effect.

 

4.  And be it enacted, That if any person or persons  hall hereafter employ, harbour, conceal, or entertain any negro or other slave, knowing such negro or other slave to be the slave of any other person or persons, without the consent of the master, mistress, or owner of such slave, he, she or they shall forfeit to the master, mistress or owner of such slave the sum of four dollars for every twenty‑four hours, and in that proportion for a greater or less time, while such slave shall have been employed, harboured, concealed, or entertained as aforesaid, which forfeiture or penalty shall be recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit, in any court having cognizance thereof‑‑Provided always, That such forfeiture or penalty shall not in the whole exceed the value of such slave .

 

5.  And be it enacted, That if any person or persons shall be found guilty of harbouring; entertaining, or concealing any slave, or conveying, or assisting to convey away such slave, and if such slave shall be lost, die, or be otherwise destroyed, or shall be disabled, or rendered unserviceable, the person or persons, so harbouring, entertaining; concealing, conveying; or assisting to convey away such slave, shall be liable to pay the value of such slave to the owner or owners, to be recovered by action of debt or trespass on the case, with costs of suit, in any court having cognizance thereof.

 

6.  And be it exacted, That if any person shall take up any negro or other slave at a distance of ten miles from the habitation of his or her matter or mistress, who hath not permission in writing from his or her master or mistress, or is not known to be on his or her service or business, the person so taking up such slave shall have for

his reward one dollar; with reasonable charges for carrying him or her home, to be paid by the master or mistress of such slave; and in case of non‑payment, to be recovered by action of debt or trespass on the cafe, with costs of suit, in any, court having cognizance thereof.

 

7.  And be it enacted, That if any negro or other slave, of or belonging to any inhabitant of any of the other slates in the union, shall come into this state without license, under the hand of his or her master or mistress, or who is not known to be on his or her business or service, every such negro or other have shall be taken up by any person in this state, and be carried before the next justice of the peace, who is hereby authorized and required, by a warrant under his hand and seal, to commit such slave to the gaol of the city or county; and the person so taking up every such slave shall have for his reward two dollars, to be paid by the master or mistress of such slave; and further, that such slave shall remain in prison till the same be paid, with all reasonable charges. 

 

8.  And be it enacted, That if any negro or other slaves shall meet and assemble together in a disorderly or tumultuous manner,  any constable, or other person, on view or information thereof, shall and may require, them immediately to disperse; and go to their respective places of abode; and if such slaves shall not forthwith disperse and retire accordingly, such constable, or other person, are hereby authorized, and it is especially made the duty of such constable, to apprehend such slaves and carry them before the next justice or justices of the peace, who is and are hereby empowered and directed to enquire into the charges, exhibited against such slaves, or any of them, and at his or their due discretion, according to the circumstances of the case, to send them, or any of them, to their respective master or mistress, or to commit them, or any of them, to the gaol of the city or county; there to remain for any space of time not exceeding one week, or (if the master or mistress of any such slave or slaves shall signify their desire, either in person or by writing, to the said justice or justices) to order and direct such slaves, or any of them, to be whipped on the bare back by the said constable, not exceeding twenty lashes; and any of the said slaves being committed to prison, shall there remain until the master or mistress shall satisfy all reasonable charges; .and any of the said slaves being whipped, the master or mistress shall be liable to pay the said constable one dollar for such and every of his or her slaves so whipped.  

 

 9. And be it enacted, That is any Negro shall be seen or found from the dwelling-house of his or her master or mistress after the hour of ten at night, except on particular business of his or her master or mistress, or shall be seen to hunt or carry a gun on the first day of the week, or christian Sabbath, commonly called Sunday, any constable or other person, on information or knowledge thereof, are hereby authorized, and it is especially made the duty of such constable, to apprehend and carry such negro or other slave before the next justice or justices of the peace, who, on examination of the matter (if such slave shall not give a good account of himself or herself) shall, at his or their due discretion, according to the circumstances of the case, do and act towards such slave in the same manner in all respects as by the preceding section of this act is prescribed; and any such slave being committed to prison, shall there remain until the master or mistress shall satisfy all reasonable charges; and in case such slave shall be ordered to be whipped, then the master or mistress of such slave shall be liable to pay the constable for performing that service the sum of one dollar: Provided, That nothing in this, or the preceding section contained, shall be construed or taken to prevent any negro or other slave from going to any place of worship, or from any innocent recreation, of from doing any other reasonable act with his or her master or mistress’s consent,

 

10.  And  be it enacted,  That no person or persons within this state shall, knowingly and willingly, suffer or permit his, her or their slave to go about begging of others victuals, clothing, or, other necessaries, or money; and if any person or persons shall offend herein, he, she or they shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of eight dollars, to be recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit, in any court having cognizance thereof, by any person or persons who will sue for the fame, the one half thereof  to be paid to the overseers of the poor of the township where such offence shall be committed; and the other half to the person or persons who shall prosecute for the same to effect.

 

11.  And be it enacted, That if any person or persons shall, by any collusive conveyance, or fraudulent agreement, sell or dispose of, or pretend to sell or dispose of any aged or decrepid slave, to any person or persons who is or are unable, to keep and maintain such slave; such sale or pretended sale shall be absolutely void, and the person or persons making such sale or pretended sale, shall forfeit the sum of forty dollars for such offence, and shall moreover be deemed the owner or owners of such slave; which forfeitures shall be recovered and applied in the manner directed in and by the next preceding section of this act.

 

12.  And be it enacted, That, from and after the passing of this act it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to bring into this state, either for sale or for servitude, any negro or other slave whatsoever; and every person offending, by bringing into this state any such negro, or other slave, shal1, for such slave, forfeit and pay, the sum of one hundred and forty dollars; to be recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit in any court having cognizance thereof, by the collector of the township into which such slave shall be brought, to be paid by such township collector to the county collector, and by him to the treasurer, for the use of the state, Provided always, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to prevent any person, who shall remove into this state to take a settled residence here, from bring all his or her slaves without incurring any of the penalties aforesaid, or to prevent any foreigners or others, having only a temporary residence in this state, for the purpose of transacting any particular business, or on their travels, from bringing and employing such slaves as servants during the time of his or her stay here, provided such slave shall not be sold or disposed of in this state.

 

13.  And be it enacted, That any citizen of this state, who at the time of the passing of this act shall own any slave or slaves in any the United States, shall have power and authority to bring any such slave or slaves into this state for servitude, and nor for sale, without incurring any of the penalties or forfeitures mentioned in this act, upon producing a certificate to the collector of the city or township into which the said slave or slaves may be brought, from any judge of the supreme court, or court of common pleas, of the state from which such slave or slaves shall be brought, certifying, at such slave or, slaves was or were the property of the citizen so applying at the time of passing this act;  and to the truth of the subject matter of the said certificate; the party producing it shall take oath before any judge or justice of this state, and shall file the said certificate in the clerk's office of the county into which such slave or slaves is or are brought.

 

14.   And be it enacted, That all forfeitures, which may be recorded as aforesaid, shall, by the township collector recovering the same, be paid forward to the county collector, and by him be paid to the treasury; and if any collector shall be put to any necessary expense in prosecuting as aforesaid, he ­shall be credited for the time out of the public money in his hands; and in case any collector shall neglect or refute to prosecute to effect, for any forfeiture incurred as aforesaid, he shall for every such neglect or refusal, forfeit and pay the sum which he ought to have recovered, which, together with the sums recovered by any collector upon non‑payment thereof, shall be sued for and recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit, in any court having cognizance thereof, the treasurer of the state for the time being, for the use of the state.

 

15.  And be it enacted, That it shall be the duty of the grand jury every county in this slate to. indict any person for inhumanly treating and abusing his or her slave, and the person so offending shall, on conviction, be punished by a fine, not exceeding forty dollars, which fine shall be paid to the overseer of the poor for the use of the township in which such offender shall reside.

 

16.  And be it enacted, That the owner or owners of any negro, or other slave or slaves, or of any negro, mulatto, or mestee servant or servants, for life or years, who shall have been born since the twenty‑fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty‑eight, and before the passing of this act, or who shall be born at any time after the passing of this act, shall cause every such slave or slaves, servant or servants, while under the age of twenty‑one years, to be taught and instructed to read; and the owner or owners of any such slave or slaves, servant or servants, who shall neglect or refuse to cause such slave or slaves, servant or servants, to be taught and instructed as aforesaid; shall forfeit and pay thirty dollars, to be recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit, in any court having cognizance thereof, by the overseers of the poor of the township, whose duty it is hereby expressly made to prosecute for the same, and to apply the monies when recovered to the use of the poor.

 

17.  And be it enacted, That if any person or persons shall fit out, equip, man, or otherwise prepare any ship, or other vessel, to sail from, any port or harbour of this state, for the purpose of carrying on a trade or traffic in slaves; to, from, or between Europe, Asia, Af­rica, or America, or any places or countries whatever, or of transporting slaves to or from one port or place to another, such ship or vessel, her cargo, tackle, furniture, apparel, and other appurtenan­ces, shall be forfeited, and be liable to be seized by any justice of the peace, sheriff, or coroner, within this state, and prosecuted by such justice of the peace, sheriff, or coroner, making such seizure, by information in rem, in the supreme court, or the inferior court of common pleas of the county, within which such seizure shall be made,

 

18.  And be it enacted,  That every ship or other vessel, with her cargo, tackle, furniture, apparel; and other appurtenances, so seiz­ed as aforesaid, and against which judgment shall be had and ob­tained, shall, by order of the court, in which such judgment was so had, be sold at public vendue by the sheriff of the county; unless the said sheriff be a party to the prosecution, and then by the co­roner of the county in which the said seizure was made, who, after deducting all legal costs and charges, to be taxed by one of the judges of the court in which the said judgment was had, is hereby ordered and directed to pay seven eighth parts of the net proceeds thereof to the collector of the county in which such seizure was made, for the use of the state; and the remaining eighth part thereof to the person or persons who made the seizure, and prosecuted the same to effect; and the said sheriff or coroner, by whom the said sale shall be made, is hereby entitled to receive and take out of the proceeds of the said sale one per cent for his trouble.

 

19.  And be it enacted, That if any master, seaman, or other person, on board any ship or other vessel, so liable to be seized as aforesaid, shall refuse, or not suffer to enter, or resist before or after entering on board such ship or vessel, any such person or persons attempting to enter on board, or being already entered on board such ship or other vessel for the purpose of making such seizure as aforesaid, every person, so refusing or resisting, shall forfeit and pay the sum of one hundred and thirty dollars, to be recovered by the person or persons so resisted, in an action of debt, with costs of suit, in any court of record in this state, having cognizance thereof, one half part for the use of the state, and the other half part for the use of the person or persons who shall prosecute the same to effect.

 

20. And be it enacted, That no negro or other slave shall be re­moved out of this State, whose place of residence has been therein for twelve calendar months immediately preceding such removal, with a design and intention, that the place of abode or residence of such slave shall be thereby changed, without his or her consent, if of full age, testified upon private examination, before a justice of the peace of the county, in which he or she shall reside, or, being under the age of twenty‑one years;  without his or her consent, testified in manner aforesaid, as also without the consent of his or her parent or parents, if any there be, to be testified in like manner, whereof the said justice shall make a record, and deliver to said slave a .copy thereof, containing the name, age, condition, and then place of abode of such slave, the reason of such removal, and the. place to which he or she is about to go; and if any person or per­sons whatsoever, shall sell or dispose of any such slave to any person out of this state, without having previously obtained all such consent as by this act is required, testified in the manner afore-mentioned, every such person or persons, his, her, or their aiders and abettors, shall severally forfeit and pay, for every such offence, the sum of fifty dollars, to be recovered by action of debt in any court having cognizance thereof, with costs of suit, by any person who  will sue for the same, one moiety to the plaintiff, and the other moiety to the use of the poor of the township from which such slave may be removed‑Provided, That nothing in this act shall be construed or understood to make any person or persons liable to the above penalty, who may or shall remove to and reside in any other of the United States, and take his, her, or their slave or slaves with him, her, or them.

 

21.  And be it enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the owner of any negro or other slave, to manumit and set free such slave, by writing under, hand and seal, executed in the presence of at lead two witnesses, provided such slave, at the time of such instrument of manumission being executed, shall be sound in mind, and not under any bodily incapacity of obtaining a support, and shall not be under the age of twenty‑one years, nor above the age of forty years ; and provided also, that the owner of such slave shall, previous to the execution of such instrument of manumission, obtain a certificate, signed by two of the overseers of the poor of the township, and any, two justices of the peace of the county wherein such owner shall reside, and also cause such certificate to be recorded in the office of the clerk of the said county; for which service the said clerk shall be entitled to one shilling; which certificate shall be in the words, or to the effect following: [Form of Certificate]            County, to wit.  We do hereby certify, that on this:     day of         in the year of our Lord, one thousand                  A. B. of the township of in the said county of brought before us, two of the overseers of the poor of the said township, and two of the justices of the peace of the said county; his or her slave, named.         who, on view and examination, appears to us to be sound in mind, and not under any bodily incapacity of obtaining a support, and also is not under the age of twenty‑one years, nor above the, age of forty years. In witness whereof  we have hereunto set our hands, the day and year above written:

 

C. D.    Overseers of the poor and of said township of

E. F.

G.H.     Justices of the peace in an for the said county of

I. K.

 

That upon such certificate being so signed and recorded as aforesaid, and such instrument of manumission being so executed as aforesaid, such slave shall be deemed and adjudged to be free; and the owner of such slave shall be exonerated and acquitted from all costs and charges; which may arise for the support of such slave so manumitted, except his or her proportion of any tax or assessment that thereafter may be laid for the support of the said slave.

 

22. And be it enacted,  That if any person, by his or her last will and testament, shall give his or her slave freedom, such slave, being at the time of the death of the testator or testatrix, sound in mind, and not under any bodily incapacity of obtaining a support, and also not under the age of twenty‑one years, nor above the age of forty years, to be certified in manner aforesaid, then such freedom shall be good and effectual in law.

 

23. And be it  enacted, That if the owner or owners of any other slave than such as is described in the two sections next preceding, be disposed to manumit and set free such other slave, and such owner or owners, or any other sufficient person, for and in behalf of such slave, shall and do, at the court of common pleas of the county where such slave shall reside, enter into a bond to the state of New Jersey, with at least two sureties, being inhabitants and freeholders of and in the said county, to be approved by such court, in a sum not less than five hundred dollars, to prevent arid keep such slave from becoming or being any charge to any township, place, or county, in this state, then such slave shall be free, according to such manumission of his or her owner-‑Provided, That such manumission be in writing, signed and sealed by the owner or owners of such slave, in the presence of at least two witnesses--And further, That if any such slave of the description contained in this section shall be made free by the last will and testament of any person deceased, and if the executor or executors of such last will and testament, of in case of the neglect or refusal of such executor or executors, if any other sufficient person, shall and do, within six calendar months after proving the said last will and testament, enter into a bond, with sureties, and in manner aforesaid, then the said. slave shall be free, according to the true intent and meaning of such last will and testament, but if in any of the cases mention­ed in this section, such bond be not entered into, in the manner aforesaid, then the said manumission will be absolutely void and of no effect.

 

24. And be it enacted. That all slaves manumitted after the pass­ing of this act shall be discharged and exonerated after he or she arrives to the age of forty years from the payment of any bond, note, or other contract or performance of any indenture that shall have been obtained against him or her in consequence of such manumission.

 

            25.  And be it enacted, That the legal settlement of every slave, manumitted agreeably to the directions of this act, who shall be likely to become a public charge, shall be in that township or place in this state, where the owner, manumitting such slave, may have a legal settlement, at the time of such manumission‑‑Provided, That nothing, in this section contained shall be construed to prevent any slave, so manumitted from afterwards gaining legal settlement in any other township in the same manner as white persons may gain a legal settlement by virtue of the existing laws of this state.

 

26.  And be it enacted,  That every owner of any negro or other slave not manumitted according to the directions of this act, his or her heirs, executors or administrators shall be obliged, at all times, to support and maintain such slave‑Provided, That if any such owner shall become insolvent, and so unable to provide for and maintain his or her slave, who shall, by sickness or otherwise, be rendered incapable of supporting himself or herself, then such slave shall be deemed to be a pauper, whose legal settlement shall follow the legal settlement in this state of his or her owner.

 

27.   And be it enacted,  That no free negro or mulatto, of or belonging to any other state in the union shall be permitted to travel or reside in this state without a certificate from two justices of the peace of such other state,  that such negro or mulatto was set free or deemed and taken to be free in that state; and if any inhabitant of this state shall harbour,  conceal or employ any such negro or mulatto so coming into this state, not having a certificate as aforesaid, or suffer any such negro or mulatto, not having a certificate as aforesaid, to live on his or her land, or in his or her house or other tenement for one week, knowing such negro or mulatto to belong to any other state, then every person so offending shall forfeit and pay twelve dollars for every week he or she shall harbour, conceal, employ or furnish such negro or mulatto with house or land as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, with costs of suit, by and to the use of any person who shall sue for the same in any court where the same may be cognizable.

 

28. And be it enacted, That no free negro or mulatto, of or belonging to this state, shall be permitted to travel or remain in any county in this state, other than in the county where his or her place of residence may lawfully be, without a certificate from two justices of the peace of the county in which he or she belonged, or from the clerk of the county, under the seal of the court, certifying that such negro or mulatto was set free, or deemed and taken to be free in such county.

 

29.  And be it enacted, That when any habeas corpus shall be brought, to remove any negro, mulatto, mestee or indian, before the supreme court, out of the possession or custody of any person or persons claiming the service of such negro, mulatto, mestee or indian, for life, years, or other term, the person or persons to whom the said habeas corpus is directed may, in the return to the same writ, aver and let forth, that he, she or they has or have lawful right to the personal service of the said negro, mulatto, mestee or indian, for life, years, or other term, as the case may be; whereupon, the prosecutor shall instanter join issue by denying the right of the defendant or defendants to the personal service of such negro, mulatto, mestee or indian, either for life, years or, other term, and immediately upon the joinder of the said issue, the court shall award a venire facias to the sheriff, or coroner, as the case may require, of the county in which such party defendant resides, commanding him or them to summon a jury to appear at the next circuit court to be held in such county for the trial of the issue so joined as aforesaid.

 

30.  And be it enacted, That the act intitled,  “An act for regulating slaves," passed the eleventh day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirteen‑fourteen, and the act, intitled,  “An act to restrain tavernkeepers; and others from selling strong liquors to servants, negroes and mulatto slaves, and to prevent negroes and mulatto slaves from meeting in large companies, from running about at nights, or from hunting or carrying a gun on the Lord's day," passed the twenty‑third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty‑one, and the act intitled, “An act to regulate the trial of slaves for murder and other crimes, and to repeal so much of an act, intitled,  “An act to regulate slaves, as relates to their trial for murder, and other capital offences," passed the tenth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty‑eight, and the act, intitled,  “An act for laying a duty, on the purchasers of slaves imported into this colony," passed the sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty‑nine, and the act, intitled, “An act to prevent, the importation of slaves into the state of New‑Jersey, and to authorise the manumission of them under certain restrictions, and to prevent the abuse of slaves," passed the second day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-six, and the supplement thereto, passed the twenty‑fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty‑eight, be and the same are hereby repealed.

 

Passed, at Trenton, March 14, 1798.