Law to Protect Slave Property in Virginia.
IMPORTANT TO UNDERGROUND RAILROAD AGENTS AND CAPTAINS OF VESSELS
The following is an extract from the amended law that passed at the recent session of the Legislature of Virginia for the protection of slave property in that State: -
Section 24. Any free person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, out of any country or corporation, any slave without the consent of his owner, or of the guardian or committee of the owner, or who shall attempt to carry off, or aid or connive at, or be in any way concerned in the escape of any slave, with intent to defraud or deprive the owner of such slave, shall be prosecuted therefor in such county or corporation, and be confined in the penitentiary not less than five nor more than ten years, and shall moreover (in lieu of damages) forfeit to the owner double the value of the slave, and pay him all reasonable expenses incurred by him in regaining or attempting to regain such slave; and the jury, in its discretion, may also condemn such offender to be publicly whipped, to such an extent and at such times as it may see fit. If the person so offending shall, at the time, be in command of or be attached to a vessel, the name shall be forfeited to the Commonwealth.
Sec. 25. Any matter of a vessel trading to or bound for a port beyond the limits of the State, having a slave on board, without written consent of the master or owner thereof, and going with him beyond the limits of any county; and any free person travelilng by hand, who shall aid any slave to escape out of any county or corporation, shall be considered as carrying off such slave, within the meaning of the preceding section. Any master of a vessel, owned in whole or in part by citizens of this State, and trading to or plying exclusively between places within the State, knowingly receiving a slave on board and going with him beyond the limits of any county, without the written consent of the master or owner of such slave, shall pay to the injured party the full value of said slave, and in default of payment by the master of said vessel, the same shall be held liable therefor.
Sec 26. If the master or skipper of any vessel knowingly receive on board any runaway slave, and permit him to remain on board without proper effort to apprehend him, he shall be confined in the penitentiary not less than five nor more than ten years, and shall moreover forfeit to the owner the full value of the slave, and pay him all reasonable expenses incurred by him in regaining such slave; and the jury in its discretion may also condemn such an offender to be publicly whipped to such an extent and at such times as it may see fit; and if such slave be on board such vessel after leaving port, the master or skipper shall be presumed to have knowingly received him. If the master or other person in charge or command of any vessel belonging in whole or in part to a citizen of another State, or commanded by any person not a resident or citizen of this commonwealth, permit a slave to go on board his vessel, or imply or trade with a slave without the consent of the master or owner of such slave, given with reference to that particular vessel, specifying the same by name, he shall be fined a sum not less than twenty dollars nor more than fifty dollars, to be recovered by section of debt before a justice; and on failure to pay said fine and costs be shall be confined in jail until payment thereof, or until released by order of the county or corporation court within whose jurisdiction the offence was committed; or proceedings may be had against the vessel, which is held liable for the payment of said fine and all costs and expenses thereby incurred. If a slave be found on board any vessel aforesaid in the night time, without written authority to that effect from his master or owner, the person in charge or command of said vessel shall be presumed to have knowingly received him with intent to carry him off or to aid him to escape out of the State. A slave violating any one of the foregoing provisions shall, on conviction thereof before a justice of the county or corporation, be punished with the stripes and the coats thereby incurred to be paid by the master; or if the slave be hired out, then by the person hiring the slave at the time of his committing the offence.
Sec. 27. If a free person advise any slave to abscond from his master, or aid such slave to abscond from his master, or aid such slave to abscond, by procuring for or delivering to him a pass, register or other writing, or furnishing him money, clothes, provisions or other facility, or be in any manner accessory to the escape or attempt to escape of such slave, he shall be confined in the penitentiary not less than five nor more than ten years; and the jury may, in its discretion, condemn such offender to be also publicly whipped to such an extent and at such times as it may see fit.