Slave Codes of Virginia in 1856



Among the ten acts of the slave codes of Virginia revision rejected by the king in 1751, was one "concerning servants and slaves," a consolidation and reenactment of all the old statutes on that subject, the substance of which has been given in former pages. it appears from the address of the Assembly to the king on the subject of this veto, to have been a standing instruction to the governor not to consent to the reenactment of any law once rejected by the king, without express leave first obtained upon representation of the reasons and necessity for it.

Selling Females by the Pound, from "Pictures of Slavery", by Bourne, 1834

Selling Females by the Pound, from "Pictures of Slavery", by Bourne, 1834
Buy This Allposters.com

Such a representation was accordingly made by the Assembly as to eight of the ten rejected laws. The act concerning servants and slaves was not of this number, yet we find it reenacted within a year after in the very same words. Why the royal assent had been refused does not appear.

Native American Sent into Slavery by Virginia Colonists, 1600s

Native American Sent into Slavery by Virginia Colonists, 1600s
Buy This Allposters.com

It could hardly have been from any scruples on the subject of slavery; for among the acts expressly approved was one "for the better government of Indians, negroes, and mulattoes" which provided that the death of a slave under extremity of correction should not be esteemed murder, unless it were proved by the oath of at least one "lawful and credible witness" that the slave was willfully and maliciously killed; persons indicted for the murder of a slave, and found guilty of manslaughter only, to "incur no forfeiture or punishment."

The Stowage of Slaves on the "Brookes" Slaver of Liverpool as Reported by Captain Parrey

The Stowage of Slaves on the "Brookes" Slaver of Liverpool as Reported by Captain Parrey
Buy This Allposters.com

Slaves set free without leave from the governor and council might be sold at auction by the church-wardens of any parish in which such freed slave might reside for the space of a month. The same stature also continued the authority formerly given to the county courts to "dismember" disorderly slaves "notoriously guilty of going abroad in the night, or running away and laying out," and not to be reclaimed by the common methods

Slaves Bringing in the Cotton Harvest

Slaves Bringing in the Cotton Harvest
Buy This Allposters.com

-- an authority very much abused, if we may judge by a subsequent stature, 1769, which declares this dismembering "to be often disproportioned to the offense, and contrary to the principles of humanity," and prohibits the castration of slaves except on conviction of an attempt to ravish a white woman.

Slave codes of Virginia as recorded in History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, 1857.

More Virginia slave codes.
Slave rules of Virginia.
How runaway slaves from Virginia were treated.
Main state code page after slave codes of Virginia.







Civil Rights for the Unborn!