Primary Resource

An Act to amend an Act, entitled, "An Act concerning the emancipation of Slaves." (January 24, 1816)

In this act, passed on January 24, 1816, the General Assembly revises its laws governing slavery.

Transcription from Original

Passed January 24th, 1816.

1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That any slave who, since the first day of May, eighteen hundred and six, hath been emancipated for extraordinary merit, and any slave who may be hereafter emancipated for extraordinary merit, shall be at liberty to apply to the Court of any country or corporation within this Commonwealth, for permission to reside within such county or corporation: And the Court, to which such application shall be made, a majority of the acting magistrates being present, or having been summoned for that purpose, shall have power, upon satisfactory proof made to them of such extraordinary merit of the applicant, and of his or her general good character and conduct, to grant to him or her permission to remain within this Commonwealth, and to reside within such country or corporation: provided, however, that no such permission shall be granted, unless notice of the application shall have been posted at the front door of the Court-house of the county or corporation for at least five weeks immediately preceding such application. Every application made as aforesaid shall be duly entered of record: And, if the permission be granted, there shall at the same time be entered of record, as the authority therefor, the general good character of the applicant, and the extraordinary merit for which he or she may have been emancipated; otherwise any permission granted by this Court shll be merely void. A permission so granted and recorded shall authorize the person, in whose favor it is, to reside, as a gree person, within the limits of the county or corporation, the court of which shall have granted it, and shall be a full protection to such person traveling in any part of the Commonwealth; but it shall not authorize him or her to reside within any other county or corporation. When permission shall have been so granted to any emancipated slave to reside as a free person within any county or corporation of this Commonwealth, on account of extraordinary merit as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the same court to extend the like permission to his or her emancipated wife or husband, or to his or her emancipated children: provided, that a like notice of the application be posted at the door of the Court-house; and that satisfactory evidence be adduced to the court of the general good character and conduct of such wife or husband and of such children. When any application for leave of residence within this Commonwealth, made by any emancipated slave, shall be rejected, the rejection thereof shall be recorded, and shall be final; insomuch that no appeal shall be taken therefrom, and that any such permission granted by any Court there after shall be null and void.

2. Be it further enacted, That, if any emancipated slave, having obtained leave of residence as aforesaid, shall afterwards be convicted, by the verdict of a jury and the judgment of a Court, of any offence against the laws of this Commonwealth, it shall be lawful for any county or corporation court, having granted such leave, a majority of the acting magistrates being present, or having been summoned to shew cause against it, to revoke the leave of residence granted as aforesaid, if to them it shall seem expedient. If, after such revocation, such emancipated slave shall remain within this Commonwealth more than twelve months, he or she shall forfeit his or her right to freedom and may be apprehended and sold in the manner provided by the tenth section of the Act, entitled, "An Act to amend the several laws concerning slaves," passed the twenty fifth of January eighteen hundred and six.

3. Be it further enacted, That if any descendant, however remote, of any such female slave as may have obtained leave of residence as aforesaid, shall at any time be convicted in manner aforesaid, shall at any time be convicted in manner aforesaid of any offence against the laws of this Commonwealth, it shall be lawful for the Court of that county or corporation within which the conviction may be had, or for the court of the county or corporation in which such descendant may reside, in like manner to revoke the leave of residence of such descendant, and to order him or her to depart this Commonwealth. And if he or she shall remain within this Commonwealth more than twelve months after such order made, he or she shall forfeit his or her right to freedom, and may be, in like manner, apprehended and sold.

4. All Acts and parts of Acts coming within the purview of this Act shall be, and the same are hereby repealed.

4. This Act shall commence and be in force from and after the passing thereof.