Legal Constraints On Slavery

809 Words 4 Pages
There were many legal and material constraints on slaves ' lives and work. For slaves, slavery meant perpetual labor, harsh discipline and constant anxiety that their families would be torn apart by sale. Slaves were, by law, the rightful property of their owners. Slaves could be bought and sold by their owners and had no say in the government. They were unable to testify against whites in court, own a firearm, hold meetings that were apart from whites, buy property, leave the plantation without permission and by the 1830s it was illegal for them to learn how to read and write. However, these laws were not enforced every time, the whole southern and governmental legal system was created to enforce the slave masters ' overall control. A few …show more content…
Half a million free blacks lived in the U.S. by the time of the Civil War, a majority of them living in the South. Free blacks were not that different from enslaved blacks. Free blacks were unable to vote and had very little economic opportunities in the North. In the South, free blacks could have their own property, legally marry and have it recognized by the government and could not be bought or sold as slaves under any circumstances. However, they could not have guns, liquor, a dog, they could not hit a white person, even if it was in the act of self defense, and they had to prove of their free status if they were asked. The racial division between whites and blacks left a small window of opportunity to have a mixed racial class come to life in the …show more content…
Slaves did all kinds of labor, from working in the fields to more skilled jobs such as carpentry, shoe making and engineering; they also worked in seaports and mines and on steamboats and railroads. The federal government used slaves to build public buildings and local authorities used them to build roads and other important facilities. By the time of the Civil War, 200,00 slaves worked in industries such as tobacco factories and ironwork 's for important business professionals. Very few slaves were trusted with the jobs of supervising other slaves, handling money or selling

Related Documents