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Mon, 01.05.1807

The State of Ohio Enacts ‘Black Laws’

Enforcing Black laws (drawing) 1830

On this date in 1807, “Black Laws” were enacted in the state of Ohio.

The Buckeye state's congress became the country's first legislative body to enact Black Laws to restrict free Blacks' rights.

Two groups supported the measure: white settlers from Kentucky and Virginia and a growing group of businessmen who had ties to southern slavery.  All of them despised Blacks. The legislation forced Blacks and Mulattoe's to furnish certificates of freedom from a court in the United States before they could settle in Ohio.  All black residents had to register with their children's names by June 1, 1805. The registration fee was 12 and a half cents per name.

It became a punishable offense to employ a black person who could not present a certificate of freedom. Anyone harboring or helping fugitive slaves was fined $1,000, with the informer receiving half of the fine. On January 25, 1807, these laws were toughened, and other states followed Ohio’s lead. The Black Laws remained in effect until 1849.


Ohio History


Historic U.S. Cases, 1690-1993:
An Encyclopedia New York
Copyright 1992 Garland Publishing, New York
ISBN 0-8240-4430-4

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