Monday, May 16, 2011

Connecticut's "Black Law" (1833)



Lacking no legal means to prevent Prudence Crandall from opening her school, Andrew Judson, a local politician, pushed legislation through the Connecticut Assembly outlawing the establishment of schools "for the instruction of colored persons belonging to other states and countries." But the tide of abolitionism was turning, for five years later, in 1838, Connecticut's Black Law was repealed. Phillip Pearl, the chairman of the committee that had passed the Black Law, led the movement for its repeal, telling a friend, "I could weep tears of blood for the part I took in that matter--I now regard that law as utterly abominable." (Yale)

Connecticut's "Black Law" (1833)
An act in addition to an Act entitled "An Act for the admission and settlement of Inhabitants of Towns."
WHEREAS, attempts have been made to establish literary institutions in this State for the instruction of colored persons belonging to other states and countries, which would tend to the great increase of the colored population of the State, and thereby to the injury of the people: Therefore,

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Assembly convened, That no person shall set up or establish in this State, any school, academy, or literary institution, for the instruction or education of colored persons who are not inhabitants of this State, nor instruct or teach in any school, academy, or literary Institution whatsoever in this State, or harbor. or board, for the purpose of attending or being taught or instructed in any such school, academy or literary institution, any colored person who is not an inhabitant of any town in this state, without the consent, in writing, first obtained of a majority of the civil authority, and also of the select men of the town in which such school, academy, or literary institution is situated; and each and every person who shall knowingly do any act forbidden as aforesaid, or shall be aiding or assisting therein; shall, for the first offence, forfeit and pay to the treasurer of state, a fine of one hundred dollars, and for the second offence shall forfeit and pay a fine of two hundred dollars, and so double for every offence of which he or she shall be convicted. And all informing officers are required to make due presentment of all breaches of this act. Provided, That nothing in this act shall extend to any district school established in any school society, under the laws of this state, or to any incorporated academy or incorporated school for instruction in this state.

Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, That any colored person, not an inhabitant of this state, who shall reside in any town therein for the purpose of being instructed as aforesaid, may be removed in the manner prescribed in the sixth and seventh sections of the act to which this is in addition.

Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That any person, not an inhabitant of this state, who shall reside in any town therein, for the purpose of being instructed as aforesaid, shall be an admissible witness in all prosecutions under the first section of this act, and may be compelled to give testimony therein, notwithstanding any thing contained in this act, or the act last aforesaid.

Sec. 4. Be it further enacted, That so much of the seventh section of the act to which this is an addition, as may provide for the infliction of corporeal punishment, be, and the same is hereby repealed.

SAMUEL INGHAM, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
EBENEZER STODDARD, President of the Senate.
Approved, May 24, 1833.

(source: Yale)

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