Connecticut, 1784

An Act concerning Indian, Mulatto, and Negro Servants and Slaves 

§1. Be it enacted by the Governor and Council, and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, That whatsoever Negro, Mulatto or Indian Servant or Servants shall be found wandering out of the bounds of the Town or Place to which they belong, without a Ticket or Pass in Writing under the Hand of some Assistant, or Justice of the Peace, or under the Hand of the Master or Owner of such Negro, Mulatto or Indian Servants, shall be deemed and accounted to be Run-aways, and may be treated as such: And every Person inhabiting in this State, finding or meeting with any such Negro, Mulatto or Indian Servant or Servants not having a Ticket, as aforesaid, is hereby empowered to seize and secure him or them, and bring him or them before the next Authority to be examined and returned to his or their Master or Owner, who shall satisfy the Charge accruing thereby.

§2. And all Ferry-men within this State, are hereby required not to suffer any Indian, Mulatto or Negro Servants, without Certificate, as aforesaid, to pass over their respective Ferries, by assisting them therein, directly or indirectly, on the Penalty of paying a Fine of Three Dollars and Thirty-four Cents, for every such Offence, to the Owner of such Servants.

§3. And all Vagrants or suspected Persons may be used in the like Manner, when found wandering from Town to Town, having no Certificate or Pass as aforesaid; who shall be seized and conveyed before the next Authority; to be examined and disposed of according to Law.

§4. And if any free Negroes shall travel without such Certificate or Pass, and be stopped, seized or taken up as aforesaid, they shall pay all Charges arising thereby.

§5. And for the preventing such Servants from Stealing from their Masters and others, and for the better governing them: 

Be it further enacted, That every free Person who shall presume, either openly or privately, to buy or receive of or from any Indian, Mulatto or Negro Servant or Slave, any Money, Goods, Merchandizes, Wares or Provisions, without Order from the Master or Mistress of such Servant or Slave; every Person so offending, and being thereof convicted, shall be sentenced to restore all such Monies, Goods, Wares and Provisions unto the Party injured, in the specific Articles (if not altered) and also forfeit to the Party double their Value thereof, over and above, or treble the Value where the same are disposed of, or not to be obtained: And if the Person so offending be unable to, or shall not make Restitution as awarded, then to be publicly whipt with so many Stripes (not exceeding Twenty) as the Court or Justice that hath Cognizance of such Offence, shall order; or make Satisfaction by Service: To be assigned therein by such Court or Justice.

§6. And every Indian, Negro or Mulatto Servant or Slave, of, or from whom such Money, Goods, Merchandizes, Wares or Provisions shall be received or bought, if it appear they were stolen, or that shall steal any Money, Goods, Merchandizes, Wares or Provisions, and be thereof convicted, (although the Buyer or Receiver be not found) shall be punished by Whipping, not exceeding thirty Stripes, and the Things stolen to be restored to the Party injured, if found, or the Value thereof if not found: To be determined as aforesaid.

§7. That if any Negro, Mulatto or Indian Servant or Slave, shall be found abroad from Home in the Night-season, after nine of the Clock, without special Order from his or their Master or Mistress, it shall be lawful for any Person or persons, to apprehend and secure such Negro, Mulatto or Indian Servant or Slave, of offending, and him, her, or them, bring before the next Assistant or Justice of the Peace, which Authority shall have full Power to pass Sentence upon such Servant or Slave, and order him, her, or them, to be publicly whipped on the naked Body, not exceeding ten Stripes, and to pay Cost of Court; except his or their Master or Mistress shall redeem them, by paying a Fine not exceeding One Dollar and Sixty Cents.

§8. And if such Servant or Slaves shall have Entertainment in any House after nine of the Clock, as aforesaid, (except to do any Business they may be sent upon) the Head of the Family that entertains, or tolerates them in his or her House, or any the Dependencies thereof, shall forfeit an pay the Sum of One Dollar and Sixty Seven Cents; One Half to the Complainer, and the other Half to the Treasurer of the Town where the Offence is committed.

§9. And whereas the increase of Slaves in this State is injurious to the Poor, and inconvenient:

Be it further enacted, That no Indian, Negro or Mulatto Slave, shall at all Time hereafter, be brought or imported into this State, by Sea or Land, from any Place or Places whatsoever, to be disposed of, left or sold within this State.

§10. Be it further enacted, That any Person or Persons who shall hereafter, contrary to the true Intent of this Act, import or bring any Indian, Negro, or Mulatto Slave or Slaves into this State, to be disposed of, left or sold within the same, or who knowing such Slave or Slaves to be so imported and brought into this State, shall receive and purchase them, or any of them, shall forfeit and pay to the Treasurer of this State, the Sum of Three Hundred and Thirty Fourt Dollars for every Slave so imported, brought into this State, received or purchased; to be recovered by Bill, Plaint, or Information, in any Court of Record proper to try the same. And that it be the Duty of all Constables and Grand-jurors, to enquire after, and make Presentment of all Breaches of this Act.

§11. And that all Slaves set at Liberty by their Owners, and all Negro, Mulatto, and Spanish Indians who are Servants to Masters for Time, in Case they come to Want, after they shall be set at Liberty, or the Time of their said Service be expired, shall be relieved by such Owners or Masters respectively, their Hers, Executors, or Administrators; and upon their, or either of their Refusal so to do, the said Slaves and Servants shall be relieved by the Select-men of the Towns to which they belong; and the said Select-men shall recover of the said Owner or Masters, their Heirs, Executors, or Administrators, all the Charge and Cost they are at for such Relief, in the usual Manner, as in Case of any other Debts.

§12. Provided nevertheless, That if any Master or Owner of any Servant or Slave, shall apply to the Select-men of the Town to which he belongs, for Liberty or License to emancipate or make free any such Servant or Slave, it shall be the Duty of such Select-men to enquire into the Age, Abilities, Circumstances and Character of such Servant or Slave, and if they or the major Part of them, shall be of Opinion that it is likely to be consistent which the real Advantage of such Servant or Slave, and that it is probable that the Servant or Slave will be able to support his or her own Person, and he or she is of good and peaceable Life and Conversation; such Select-men or the major Part of them, shall give to the Owner or Master of such Servant or Slave, Certificate under their Hands, of their Opinion in the Premises, and that the Master or Owner of such Servant or Slave, hath Liberty to emancipate and set at Liberty such Servant or Slave. And if the Master or Owner of any Servant or Slave, shall, on receiving such Certificate, emancipate and set at Liberty such Servant or Slave, he, his Heirs, Executors and Administrators, shall be forever discharged from any Charge or Cost, which may be occasioned by maintaining or supporting the Servant or Slave, made free as aforesaid; any Law, Usage or Custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.

§13. And whereas found Policy requires that the Abolition of Slavery should be effected as soon as may be, consistent with the Rights of Individuals, and the public Safety and Welfare. Therefore, 

Be it enacted, That no Negro or Mulatto Child, that shall, after the first Day of March, One thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, be born within this State, shall be held in Servitude, longer than until they arrive to the Age of twenty-five Years, notwithstanding the Mother or Parent of such Child was held in Servitude at the Time of its Birth; but such Child at the Age aforesaid, shall be free: any Law, Usage, or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding.

Source: The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut, Book I (Hartford: Printed by Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), 623-625.

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