New Orleans (LA) Picayune, "Monthly Passes to Negros," October 22, 1859

    Source citation
    “Monthly Passes to Negroes,” New Orleans (LA) Picayune, October 22, 1859, p. 14: 2.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New Orleans Daily Picayune
    Newspaper: Headline
    Monthly Passes to Negroes
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Scott Ackerman, Dickinson College
    Transcription date

    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.


    The practice, so general in this city, of giving monthly passes to slaves, has proved injurious to the character and habits not only of those indulged, but to all those over whom they have influence. These passes make the slave, for the time being, virtually free. They remove them from the restraints of masters, and bring them in contact with the worst class of society. That they should escape the necessary result of such associations is impossible, and few instances exist where the privilege, once granted, does not entirely unfit the slaves for contented enjoyment of their lives in the families of their masters.

    Did the evil stop here the public might be content, but those negroes who have almost unrestricted freedom carry with them into well regulated families the seeds of discontent, and furnish the means of concealment to any one who, to escape an irksome restraint, finally becomes an habitual runaway.

    It is now the policy of the State to diminish as fast as possible the number of free Negroes. Is it not apparent that the habit of giving monthly passes creates a mongrel class of black population in our State neither free nor bondmen. Which is more productive of widespread evil than arises from our colored population?

    We are assured by those who have temporary lost servants in this city, that without going more than a few squares from the residence of their masters, they have, in many instances, found security in the lodging places furnished by those who live under the protection of passes, for months. It is said, with some probability of truth, that a perfect system for mutual protection exists here among this class of population, rendering New Orleans one of the safest hiding places for runaway slaves.

    The evil, of which complaint is made by many householders, is so great that legislation on this subject is loudly demanded. Deterioration in the character of our servants is palpable. These privileges granted to a few furnish facilities for extensive intercourse between the disaffected-debase the morals of our slaves-spread the evil of licentiousness widely-and in the future may lead to more serious consequences.

    It can scarcely be admitted that master perform their full obligations to their slaves when they grant them these indulgences. They should constantly exercise a restraining influence over them and cultivate in them the virtue of their class. The community at large is deeply interested in the faithful discharge of the obligations assumed when one accept by purchase the charge of a servant, and in view of the state of facts which assuredly now exist, should demand a change so far as to prevent neglect from growing into a public injury.

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