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LAWS OF RHODE ISLAND.
term of years, according to their circumstances, and for their protection.” 2 R. I. Col. Rec. 535, 549. Staples' An. Pr. 70.
1700. It was declared, “ that in all actions, matters, causes and things whatsoever, where no particular law of the colony is made to determine the same, then in all such cases the laws of England shall be put in force to issue, determine and decide the same, any usage, custom or law to the contrary notwithstanding." R. I. Col. Laws (Edit. 1744), p. 28. 1 Story's Comm. 64, cites p. 192.
1714. “ We find an act passed to prevent slaves running away."
1715. “An act was passed, to prohibit the importation of Indian slaves into this colony. This act was continued in force and re-enacted in the digest of 1766. It states in the preamble that the increase of their number discourages the immigration of white laborers.”
1728. “ An act was passed requiring persons manumitting mulatto or negro slaves, to give security against their becoming a town charge.” E. R. Potter's Report.
1750. An act was passed to prevent all persons from entertaining Indian, negro or mulatto servants or slaves, or trading with them. (See Rev. L. of 1798, p. 612.)
1770. An act for breaking up disorderly houses kept by free negroes and mulattoes, and for putting out such negroes and mulattoes to service. (See Rev. L. of 1798, p. 611.)
1774, June. “An act was passed, prohibiting the importation of negroes into this colony, the preamble of which we will quote ;-'whereas, the inhabitants of America are generally engaged in the preservation of their own rights and liberties, among which that of personal freedom must be considered as the greatest, and as those who are 'desirous of enjoying all the advantages of liberty themselves should be willing to extend personal liberty to others,' &c. By this act' all slaves,
This act originated in a Providence town meeting, at which also it was resolved, " whereas Jacob Shoemaker, late of Providence, died intestate and hath left six negroes, four of whom are infants, and there being no heir to the said Jacob, in this town or colony, the said negroes have fallen to this town by law, provided no heir should
thereafter brought into the State were to be free except slaves of persons travelling through the State, or persons coming from other British colonies to reside here. Citizens of Rhode Island owning slaves, were forbidden to bring slaves into the colony, except they gave bond to carry them out again in a year. This exception was however expressly repealed in February, 1784. E. R. Potter's Report.
1776, May. The General Assembly repealed the Act for the more effectual securing to his Majesty the allegiance, &c. A virtual declaration of Independence. Staples' Annals of Prov.
$ 224. LEGISLATION OF NEW YORK.
Whatever local law affecting personal condition or status might have been derived from the Dutch government, within the limits afterwards included in the British province of New York, would, on general principles, have continued after the establishment of the English authority, until changed by positive enactment. The general principles on which the slavery of Africans and Indians was recognized in the other colonies, were equally recognized there under the law of Holland, which comprehended those doctrines derived from the civil law, which
appear: Therefore, It is voted by this meeting, that it is unbecoming to the character of freemen to enslave the said negroes, and they do hereby give up all claim of right or property in them the said negroes or either of them," &c., &c. See Staples' Annals of Providence ; p. 237.
For the history of slavery in the N. E. colonies and States, see 2 vol. of Elliot's Hist. of New England.
• The civil law was the common law of the Dutch empire.-1 Thompson's Hist. of Long Isl. p. 108. The treatise of Van Leeuwen, written in the latter part of the 17th century, transl. London, 1820, under the title. Comm. on Roman-Dutch Law, has always been received in the colonies settled by Holland. In this work, B. I. c. 5, 8. 4, “ with respect to persons, every one is free among us by their birth, and slavery is unknown among us and not in use, so that in order to protect natural liberty, slaves who are brought here from other countries are declared to be free as soon as they reach the limits of our countries, notwithstanding their masters.” (Noting Christinæus, Gudelin, Grotius, Zypæ, &c., as cited in the next chapter.) Van Der Linden in Inst. of the Laws of Holland, pub. 1806, transl. by J. Henry, London, 1828, for use in the colonies, says, B. i. & 3, “The difference between freemen and slaves, which occupies so large a part of the Roman law, does not exist in our country, where all men are born free. Slavery is not in use in this country; nay, even the slaves who come here from the Indies become free (ipso facto) by their landing, provided they are not runaways or fugitives.” But in the introductory part of the work the same author especially notices the Roman law of slavery and manumission as being applicable in the colonies.
have been set forth in the fourth chapter. There is, probably, no legislative enactment proceeding from the local authority to which the condition of slavery, under the Dutch government, can be attributed. The personal condition of the free white inhabitants, under private law, was not essentially different from that of the English in the other colonies, and the same distinction of race which existed in all the European colonies, of that time, must be taken to bave limited the terms of any acts of the new government extending to the inhabitants the rights and privileges of free persons under the English law of condition.'
- 1664. The first local legislation under the English government was that published under the authority of the Duke of
York, as proprietor, and known in the history of the colony as “the Duke's Laws.” This code was promulgated from East Hampton, in the eastern part of Long Island, which was settled principally by persons of English origin, who had before endeavored to incorporate themselves with the Connecticut colony, 8 and seems to have been modelled after the existing New England codes. It is entitled, “Laws collected out of the several laws now in force in his majestie's American colonies and plantations.” It has been published in vol. i. of the Collections of the New York Historical Society, p. 307. It contains, under the caption, Bond Slavery—“No Christian shall be kept in bond slavery, villenage, or captivity, except such who shall be judged thereunto by authority, or such as willingly have sold or shall sell themselves, in which case a record of such servitude shall be entered in the court of sessions held for the jurisdiction where such masters shall inhabit, provided that nothing in the
The third of the Articles of Capitulation, 1664, Aug. 27, declares, “ All people shall still continue free denizens and shall enjoy their lands, houses, goods, wheresoever they are within this country, and dispose of them as they please." See 2 Revised Laws of 1813, Appendix I."
* The patent to the Duke, dated March 16, 1664, for the lands lying between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers, granted to him, “his heirs, deputies, agents, commissioners, and assigns," "full and absolute power and authority,” &c. So always as the said statutes, ordinances, and proceedings be not contrary to, but, as near as conveniently may be, agreeable to the laws, statutes, and government of this our realm of England.”—Leaming and Spicer's Coll. p. 3. A second grant was made in similar terms, in 1674, L. & S. p. 41.
See 2 Hazard's Coll. pp. 7, 18, 173, 248, 434. 1 Thompson's Hist. of Long Island, p. 117–126.
law contained shall be to the prejudice of master or dame who have or shall by any indenture or covenant take apprentices for term of years, or other servants for term of years or life.”
Under the caption Capital Laws, art. 7, “If any person forcibly stealeth or carrieth away any mankind he shall be put to death."
Under the caption Fugitives, “Every apprentice and servant that shall depart or absent themselves from their master or dame, without leave first obtained, shall be adjudged by the court to double the time of their such absence, by future service, &c."
Caption, Masters, Servants, and Laborers, among other provisions declares, “If any servant shall run away from their master or dame, or any other inhabitants shall privily convey them away, or upon suspicion of such evil intentions, every justice of the peace," &c., is authorized to pursue such persons.
“No servant, except such as are duly so for life, shall be assigned over to other masters or dames by themselves, their executors, or administrators for above the space of one year, unless for good reasons offered the court of sessions shall otherwise think fit to order.”
The word slaves is not used in this collection of laws ; servants are distinguished only as being bound for years or for life.
1683. In this year a local assembly was allowed by the Duke, and a governor sent out by him ; an act of this date entitled, An act for naturalizing all those of foreign nations at present inhabiting within this province and professing Christianity, and for encouragement for others to come and settle within the same, (recited in an act of 1715, Bradford's Laws, p. 125,) contains the provision, that “nothing contained in this act is to be construed to discharge or set at liberty any servant, bondman, or slave, but only to have relation to such persons as are free at the making hereof." Under date October 30, is a “charter of the libertys and privileges granted by his Royal Highness to the inhabitants of," &c. “Freemen" are repeatedly
See abstract of this code in 2 Hildr. pp. 44-51.
mentioned herein, but the term is not defined. This charter was probably repealed. See vol. i. Revised Laws, 1813, app. No. 2.
1691, April 9. Session of the first colonial assembly, whose acts are binding. (Smith's Hist. of N. Y., p. 100.) May 6. An act declaring what are the rights and privileges of their majesties' subjects inhabiting within their province of New York, very similar to the above charter, contains a provision, “ that no freeman shall be taken and imprisoned or be disseised of his freehold, or liberty, or free customs," &c., &c.—Bradford's Laws, p. 2–4. This act was repealed by the crown in 1697.— Smith's Hist. p. 76, notes ; Smith and Livingston's Laws, ed. 1752, p. 5.
1702. An act for regulating slaves. (Bradford's L. ed. 1726, vol. i. p. 45.) The captions are : Not lawful to trade with negro slaves. Masters may punish their own slaves. Not above three slaves may meet together. A common whipper to be appointed. A slave not to strike a freeman. Penalty for concealing slaves. If negroes steal, how satisfaction is to be made. Evidence of negroes, how far good. Enacted for one year, but appears to have been revised and continued in force at least until 1726.
1705. An act to prevent the running away of negro slaves,
" In 1702 Lord Cornbury was appointed governor of New York and the Jerseys under certain “instructions” from the crown. See Leaming and Spicer's Coll. pp. 619642. Art. 16, provides for the revision of laws. 49. “You are to take care that no man's life, member, freehold, or goods be taken away or harmed in our said.province, otherwise than by established and known laws, not repugnant to, but as near as may be, agreeable to the laws of England.” 53. Directs a census, mentioning slaves ; also, after enjoining encouragement of merchants, and in particular the Royal African Company of England; “And whereas we are willing to recommend unto the said company, that the said province may have a constant and sufficient supply of merchantable negroes at moderate rates, in money or commodities, so you are to take es. pecial care that payment be duly made," &c., " and you are yearly to give unto us and to our commissioners for trade and plantations an account of what number of negroes our said province is yearly supplied with, and at what rates.” “You shall endeavour to get a law past for the restraining of any inhuman severity, which by ill masters or overseers may be used towards their Christian servants and their slaves, and that provision be made therein that the wilfull killing of Indians and negroes may be punished with death, and that a fit penalty be imposed for the maiming of them. "You are also, with the assistance of the council and assembly, to find out the best means to facilitate and encourage the conversion of negroes and Indians to the Christian religion."