Free Negroes and Free Slaves in Virginia — The Law.
From the Staunton Vindicator
We have been requested to call the attention of the people to the necessity of keeping a stricter watch over the free negro population in this community — a class of all others the most prejudicial to the interest of both master and slave — and also to the evil practice of permitting slaves to hire their time, and go about trafficking as free men. We do not know that we could better answer this purpose, than by referring to the law, and to urge upon all the necessity of enforcing it in every case where it may be violated. By sec. 6, ch. 7 of the Code, no negro who has been emancipated since the year 1806, shall, after being twenty one years of age, remain in this State more than one year, without lawful permission. Such permission can only be granted by the Court of the County or Corporation, all the magistrates being summoned for the purpose, and a majority of them present and voting on the question — notice of such application to remain must be posted at the Court House door for two months previous — the negro must also produce evidence of his good character, &c. The Commissioner of the Revenue is required annually to return a complete list of all free negroes in his district over twelve years of age, of both sexes — every free negro shall ever five years, be registered in a book kept by the clerk, giving an accurate description — the negro shall keep an attested copy of his register, with the seal of the Court annexed. Any free negro above twelve years of age, not having such register, may be committed to jail by a Justice. Any person employing any free negro who has not such attested copy of his register shall forfeit five dollars to any person who will warrant therefore.
These are some of the general provisions of the law with regard to free negroes.
By sec. 6, ch. 104 of the Code, any person permitting a slave under his control to go at large, trade as a free man, or hire himself out for the benefit of any person whatever, shall forfeit not less ten nor more than thirty dollars.
The attention of the people in town and country is requested to a more rigid enforcement of these laws, not from fear of servile insurrection, but for the promotion of the general good.