The Slave not being regarded as a member of Society, nor as a human being, the Government, instead of providing for his education, takes care to forbid it, as being inconsistent with the condition of chattelhood.
CHATTELS are not educated! And if human beings are to be held in chattelhood, education must be withheld from them.
South Carolina.—Act of 1740: “Whereas, the having slaves taught to write, or suffering them to be employed in writing, may be attended with great inconveniences; Be it enacted, that all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave or slaves to be taught to write, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe, in any manner of writing whatsoever, hereafter taught to write, every such person or persons shall, for every such offense, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money.” (2 Brevard’s Digest, 243 )
Georgia, similar; penalty, twenty pounds. (Prince’s Dig., 445.)
Virginia.—Revised Code of 1819: “That all meetings or assemblages of slaves, or free negroes or mulattoes mixing and associating with such slaves at any meeting-house or houses, &c., in the night; or at any SCHOOL OR SCHOOLS for teaching them READING OR WRITING, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY; and any justice of a county, &c., wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c., may issue his warrant, directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c., may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes.” (1 Rev. Code, 424-5.)
Besides the State laws, the corporate towns and cities frequently have ordinances on the subject. As for example, in Savannah, in 1818, the public journals announced as follows:
“The City has passed an ordinance by which any person that teaches any person of color, slave or free, to read or write, or causes such persons to be so taught, is subjected to a fine of thirty dollars for each offense; and every person of color who shall keep a school to teach reading or writing is subject to a fine of thirty dollars, or to be imprisoned ten days, and whipped thirty-nine lashes!”
“In North Carolina, to teach a slave to read or write, or sell or give him any book [Bible not excepted] or pamphlet, is punished with thirty-nine lashes, or imprisonment, if the offender be a free negro; but if a white, then with a fine of $200. The reason for this law, assigned in its preamble, is, that teaching slaves to read and write tends to dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion.’” (Jay’s Inquiry, p. 136.) This was enacted in 1831. (Vide Child’s Appeal.)
“In Georgia, if a white teach a free negro or slave to write, he is fined $500, and imprisoned at the discretion of the Court; if the offender be a colored man, bond or free, he may be fined or whipped, at the discretion of the Court. Of course, a father may be flogged for teaching his own child. This barbarous law was enacted in 1829.” (Ib.)
“In Louisiana, the penalty for teaching slaves to read and write is one year’s imprisonment.”