“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.

“not to permit any Indian or Indians, to be absent from said Reservations … unless they are accompanied by some white man, or men, to be sent with them” (Laws of Texas, 1858)

Be it Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Texas, that the Governor be, and he is hereby requested to urge upon the authorities of the Federal Government at Washignton, the great necessity of the immediate establishment of a permanent military post as near the junction of the larger Wichita and Red River as practicable, and the Indian Agents in charge of the Indians on the Texas Indian Reserve, be instructed to require every male Indian over the age of twelve years, to be upon the Reserve under his control every day, unless such Indian or Indians have his special written permission to be absent; and that such Agents be instructed not to permit any Indian or Indians, to be absent from said Reservations by special permission more than three days at any one time, unless they are accompanied by some white man, or men, to be sent with them by him, to prevent them from committing depredations on the citizens of the country, or communicating with other Indians not known to be at peace with Texas, or sent with white men [276/1148] as guides, hunters, &c., or sent by said Agents as spies, of express bearers; and that the Agents be required to enforce these instructions, and that the Government furnish and keep constantly at each Reserve, a sufficient military force to enable Agents to carry out such instructions. And that our Senators and Representatives in Congress be requested to co-operate with the Governor in accomplishing the objects of this Resolution, and that the Governor be requested to furnish each of them and the President and Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Interior of the United States, with a copy of the same.

Approved, January 29th, 1858.

Joint Resolution of January 29, 1858. H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 275-276 (link).

“The insolence of a slave will justify a white man in inflicting moderate chastisement,” Slavery, Color and the Penal Code (Texas Penal Code Revisions 1858)

[156/1028] An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856.

Article 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the following Chapters and Articles of the act above recited, commonly known as the Penal Code, be, and they are hereby so amended as that the same shall hereafter respectively read as follows–that is to say:

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 156 (link).

[157/1029] TITLE 5.

CHAPTER 1.

Principals.

Article 218a. If the master of a slave instigates, aids, encourages, advises, or wilfully permits such slave to commit an offence, he may be considered and prosecuted, either as a principal or as an accomplice, and shall be punished in the manner prescribed in Article 223 of the Penal Code.

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 156 (link).

[177/1049]

CHAPTER 8.

Cruel treatment of Slaves

Article 670 shall hereafter read as follows:

If any person shall unreasonably abuse or cruelly treat a slave, whether his own property or the property of another, he shall be fined not less than one hundred nor more than two thousand dollars.

Article 672 shall hereafter read as follows:

It is cruel treatment of a slave to inflict an unusual degree of punishment without just provocation, or to torture or cause unusual pain and suffering to a slave by the use of any means, or to subject such slave to punishment so severe as to become injurious to his health, or calculated greatly to depreciate his value, or for the person having the charge of any slave to fail to supply him with comfortable clothing, or a sufficient quantity of wholesome food.

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 177 (link).

[186/1058] PART III.

Of offences committed by Slaves and Free persons of color.

TITLE 1.

General Provisions

Article 796 shall hereafter read as follows:

An offence committed by a slave or free person of color, is known as a felony. When the punishment therefor is death, all other offences committed by either of these classes of persons are called petty offences.

TITLE 2.

Rules applicable to offences against the person when committed by Slaves or Free Persons of color.

Article 802 shall hereafter read as follows:

The offences enumerated in Title 17 of the Second Part of this Code, when committed by slaves or free persons of color, against a free white person, are subject to different rules from such as are prescribed in defining guilt or innocence when committed by a free white person, and the guilt or innocence of the accussed is to be ascertained by a consideration of the following general principles:

1st. The right of the master to the obedience of and submission of his slave, in all lawful things, is perfect, and the power belongs to the master to inflict any punishment upon the slave not affecting life or limb, and not coming within the definition of cruel treatment, or unreasonable abuse, which he may consider necessary for the purpose of keeping him in such submission, and enforcing such submission to his commands; and if, in the exercise of this right, with or without cause, the slave resists and slays his master, it is murder.

[187/1059] 2d. The master has not the right to kill his slave, or to maim or dismember him, except in cases mentioned in article 564 of this Code.

3d. A master, in the exercise of his right to perfect obedience on the part of the slave, may correct in moderation, and is the exclusive judge of the necessity of such correction; and resistance by the slave, under such circumstances, if it results in homicide, renders him guilty of murder.

4th. The insolence of a slave will justify a white man in inflicting moderate chastisement, with an ordinary instrument of correction, if done at the time when the insolent language is used, or within a reasonable time after; but it will not authorize an excessive battery, as with a dangerous weapon.

5th. The rules respecting manslaughter, as given in the second part of this Code, apply only to equals, and not to the case of offences by slaves, or free persons of color, against free white persons.

6th. An assault and battery, not inflicting great injury, committed by a free white person upon a slave, will not be a sufficient provocation to mitigate a homicide of the former by the latter, from murder to manslaughter, although it be in a case where the law does not expressly justify assault and battery.

7th. That amount of personal injury is a legal provocation, of which it can be pronounced, having due regard to the relative condition of the white man and the slave, and the obligation of the latter to conform his passions to his condition of inferiority, that it would provoke well disposed slaves into a violent passion, and the existence of such provocation will reduce the homicide to manslaughter.

8th. If a slave, by insolence, provoke chastisement, and then slay the person chastising him, it will be murder.

9th. In the following cases it is lawful for a free white person to inflict chastisement upon a slave by a moderate whipping:

1st. If a slave, without the consent of the white person, be found upon his premises at night.

2d. If the slave, against the orders of the white person, be found upon his premises at any time.

3d. If a slave be found using improper language, or guilty of indecent or turbulent conduct in the presence of white persons.

[188/1060] 4th. If the slave be guilty of rude or unbecoming conduct in the presence of a free white female.

5th. If a slave use insulting language or gestures towards a white person.

6th. If a slave commit any wilfull act, injurious to the property or person of a free white person, or of any member of his family.

7th. If a slave be found drunk, and making a disturbance in any public place, or upon the premises of a free white person.

TITLE 3.

Of the punishment of slaves and free persons of color.

CHAPTER 1.

Of Slaves.

Article 812 shall hereafter read as follows:

Slaves are subject to the following punishment–

  1. Death
  2. Whipping

Article 816 shall hereafter read as follows:

Whipping is inflicted upon the bare back, and in all cases the number of lashes shall be fixed by the Jury, Justice, Mayor, or Recorder who try the case; provided the whipping allowed by this article shall not be such as to permanently injure or endanger the life of the slave.

Article 819 shall hereafter read as follows:

The following offences when committed by slaves, shall be punished by death: first, murder; second, insurrection; third, arson; fourth, rape upon a free white woman; fifth, robbery when committed upon a free white person; sixth, assault with intent to commit murder, rape or robbery upon a free white person; seventh, an attempt to commit a rape upon a free white woman; eighth, assault with a deadly weapon upon a free white person.

CHAPTER 2.

Of Free Persons of Color.

Article 822 shall hereafter read as follows:

Free persons of color are subject to the following punishments: [189/1061] 1. Death; 2d. Whipping; 3. Labor upon any public works of a county.

Article 823 shall hereafter read as follows:

All offences which by law may be capitally punished, in the case of a slave, shall be punished capitally, when committed by a free person of color.

Article 824 shall hereafter read as follows:

Aiding in an insurrection of slaves, and kidnapping a free white woman, when committed by a free person of color, shall be punished by death.

Article 829 shall hereafter read as follows:

For all other offences not herein provided for, a free person of color, may be punished by whipping, and by being forced to work upon the roads, or other public works of the county where he is convicted, under the direction of the County Court, for a term not exceeding twelve months.

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 186-189 (link).

“If any white person shall, within this state, knowingly marry a negro, or a person of mixed blood, descended from negro ancestry …” (Texas Penal Code Revision of 1858)

[156/1028] An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856.

Article 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the following Chapters and Articles of the act above recited, commonly known as the Penal Code, be, and they are hereby so amended as that the same shall hereafter respectively read as follows–that is to say:

[…]

[164/1036]

TITLE 12.

CHAPTER 1.

Unlawful Marriage.

Article 386 shall hereafter read as follows:

If any white person shall, within this state, knowingly marry a negro, or a person of mixed blood, descended from [165/1037] negro ancestry, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, or having so married in or out of this State, shall continue within this State to cohabit with such negro, or such descendant of a negro, he or she shall be punished by confinement in the Penitentiary, not less than two nor more than five years.

[…]

CHAPTER 2.

Article 392 shall hereafter read as follows:

Every man and woman who shall live together in adultery, or fornication, shall be punished by fine, not less than one hundred, nor more than one thousand dollars.

Article 395a. Every white person who shall live in adultery or fornication with a negro, or a person of mixed blood, descended from negro ancestry, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, shall be punished by fine, of not less than one hundred nor more than one thousand dollars.

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 164-165 (link).

Texas Penal Code Revision of 1858 on Insurrection, Enticement, Runaways and Dealing with Slaves

[156/1028] An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856.

Article 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That the following Chapters and Articles of the act above recited, commonly known as the Penal Code, be, and they are hereby so amended as that the same shall hereafter respectively read as follows–that is to say:

[…]

[174/1046] TITLE 19.

CHAPTER 1.

Exciting insurrection or insubordination.

Article 650 shall hereafter read as follows:

Any person who shall aid in any insurrection of slaves against the free inhabitants of this State, who shall join in any secret assembly of slaves in which such insurrection shall be planned, with design to promote it, or shall excite or persuade any slaves to attempt any such insurrection shall be [175/1047] punished by confinement in the Penitentiary, not less than ten years or for life.

Article 651 shall hereafter read as follows:

By “insurrection of slaves” is meant an assemblage of three or more, with arms, with intent to obtain their liberty by force.

Article 652 shall hereafter read as follows:

The term excite, as here used, means to offer any persuasion, or inducement, which has insurrection for its immediate object.

Article 653 shall hereafter read as follows:

Any person who shall by words, or writing addressed to a slave, endeavor to render any such slave discontented with his state of slavery, shall be punished by confinement in the Penitentiary, not less than five years nor more than fifteen years.

CHAPTER 2.

Illegal transportation of Slaves.

The master, or any other officer, or any of the crew, of any steamboat or other vessel who shall carry, or cause to be carried, out of any county, a slave or slaves, without the consent of the owner or employer, with intent to deprive the owner or owners of his or their property in such slave, or slaves, or who shall knowingly receive on board of his vessel any runaway slave, and permit him to remain on board, without proper effort to apprehend him, shall be confined in the Penitentiary, not less than ten nor more than thirty years.

CHAPTER 3.

Stealing or enticing a Slave.

Article 656 shall hereafter read as follows:

Any person who shall attempt to steal, or entice away a slave, the property of another, shall be confined in the Penitentiary, not less than five nor more than fifteen years.

Article 657 shall hereafter read as follows:

The offence of stealing a slave is complete within the meaning of Article 655, by taking the slave into possession, either by his consent or forcibly, and removing him a distance however short, from the possession or premises of his employer or [176/1048] owner, with the design to claim the ownership of such slave, or otherwise dispose of the same.

Article 660 shall hereafter read as follows:

An attempt to entice away a slave is the use of any means forcible or persuasive, which may be calculated to induce such slave to abandon the service of his master or employer, and accompany the offender, with the view to deprive the owner of his property.

CHAPTER 4. Offences respecting Runaway Slaves.

Article 661 shall hereafter read as follows:

If any person advise a slave to leave the service of his master or employer, or aid such slave in so leaving, by procuring for or delivering to him a pass, or other writing, or by furnishing him with money, clothes, provisions, or other facility, and such slave do actually abscond, he shall be confined in the Penitentiary, for not less than three nor more than ten years.

CHAPTER 6.

Harboring and Concealing.

Article 666 shall hereafter read as follows:

Any person convicted of a second offence, under either of the two preceding articles, shall be punished by confinement in the Penitentiary, not less than three nor more than ten years.

CHAPTER 7.

Trading with Slaves.

Article 668 shall hereafter read as follows:

If any person who deals in intoxicating liquors, either by wholesale or retail, shall sell to a slave without the written consent of his master, mistress, overseer, or employer, any intoxicating liquors, or shall give to any such slave, and without such written consent, any intoxicating liquors, he shall be fined, not less than fifty nor more than two hundred dollars.

Article 669 shall hereafter read as follows:

If any person shall buy from a slave any valuable produce, [177/1049] or other article whatever, without the written consent of the master, mistress, overseer, or employer of such slave, he shall be fined not less than twenty nor more than two hundred dollars.

“An Act supplementary to and amendatory of an act entitled an act to adopt and establish a Penal Code for the State of Texas, approved 28th August, 1856” (February 12, 1858). H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, Vol. 4 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1898), 174-177 (link).