Primary Resource

"An act about the casuall killing of slaves" (1669)

In "An act about the casuall killing of slaves," passed by the General Assembly in 1669, masters who kill their slaves in the act of punishing them are held not to be responsible of murder.

Transcription from Original

WHEREAS the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistris or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other then violent meanes supprest, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or other by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accompted ffelony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice (which alone makes murther ffelony) should induce any man to destroy his owne estate.