“Aiding or inciting a slave insurrection was not defined specifically as a crime until surprisingly late in the development of Texas’ slave code” (Campbell)

1854: Tex. state law passed to punish aiding, planning, or inciting a slave rebellion–N.B. proximity to Columbus expulsions &c.

Aiding or inciting a slave insurrection was not defined specifically as a crime until surprisingly late in the development of Texas’ slave code. An act of December, 1837, provided the death penalty for free blacks found guilty of “insurrection, or any attempt to excite it,” but no law encompassing whites as well as blacks and specifying aiding, planning, or inciting a slave rebellion was passed until 1854. The crime was punishable by death until a revision of the state’s penal code in 1858 reduced the penalty to a prison sentence of ten years to life. “Insurrection of slaves” was defined as an “assemblage of three or more, with arms, with intent to obtain their liberty by force.” After 1858 the law also provided a penalty of five to fifteen years in prison for any person who tried to render a slave “discontented with his state of slavery.”[13]

Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press., 102.

 

  1. [13]Gammel (comp.), Laws of Texas, III, 1511; Oldham and White (comps.), Digest of the General Statute Laws, 539. Oliver C. Hartley (comp.), A Digest of the Laws of Texas (Philadelphia, 1850), the most recent digest made before a general revision began in the mid-1850s, had no law specifying penalties for inciting slave insurrection.

“said land shall not be … within four miles of the residence or improvements of any white inhabitant of this State” (Alabama Indians Relief Act, 1854)

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, that twelve hundred and eighty acres of vacant and unappropriated land, situated in either Polk or Tyler counties, or both, to be selected by the Chiefs of the Alabama Indians and the Commissioners hereinafter named, be, and the same is hereby set apart for the sole use and benefit of, and as a home for the said tribe of Indians….

Sec. 3. That said land shall not be selected or located within four miles of the residence or improvements of any white inhabitant of this State. And that said Indians shall not alien, lease, rent, let, give or otherwise dispose of said land or any part thereof to any person whatsoever. And should the State of Texas hereafter provide a home for said tribe of Indians, and settle them thereon, then the said twelve hundred and eighty acres of land, with its improvements, shall become the property of the State.

“An Act for the relief of the Alabama Indians,” February 3, 1854. H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 68 (link).