March 2, 1786, Acts 10th G.A. 2nd sitting, ch. CXIX, p.239-242.
WHEREAS the Principles of Justice and Humanity require, that the barbarous Custom of bringing the unoffending Africans from their native Country and Connections into a State of Slavery ought to be discountenanced, and as soon as possible prevented; and sound Policy also requires, in order to afford ample Support to such of the Community as depend upon their Labour for their daily Subsistence, that the Importation of Slaves into this State from any other State or Country whatsoever, ought to be prohibited under certain Restrictions and that such as are under Servitude in the State ought to be protected by Law from those Exercises of wanton Cruelty too often practised upon them; and that every unnecessary Obstrucion in the Way of freeing Slaves should be removed; therefore,
Sect. I. Be IT ENACTED by the Council and General Assembly of this State, and it is hereby Enacted by the Authority of the same, That, from and after the Publication of this Act, it shall not be lawful for any Person or Persons whatsoever to bring into this State, either for Sale or for Servitude, any Negro Slave brought from Africa since the Year Seventeen Hundred and Seventy-six; and every Person offending by bringing into this State any such Negro Slave shall, for each Slave, forfeit and Pay the Sum of Fifty Pounds, to be sued for and recovered with Costs by the Collector of the Township into which such Slave shall be brought, to be applied when recovered to the Use of the State.
2. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person shall either bring or procure to be brought into this State, any Negro or Mulatto Slave, who shall not have been born in or brought from Africa since the Year above-mentioned, and either sell or buy, or cause such Negro or Mulatto Slave to be sold, or to remain in this State, for the Space of six Months, every such Person, so bringing or procuring to be brought or selling or purchasing such Slave not born in or brought from Africa since the Year aforesaid shall, for every such Slave, forfeit and pay the Sum of Twenty Pounds, to be sued for and recovered with Costs by the Collector of the township into which such Slave shall be brought or remain after the Time limited for that Purpose, the Forfeiture to be applied to the Use of the State as aforesaid.
3. Provided always, and be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That Nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to prevent any Person who shall remove into the State to take a settled Residence here, from bringing all his or her Slaves without incurring the Penalties aforesaid, excepting such Slaves as shall have been brought from Africa since the Year first above-mentioned, or to prevent any Foreigners or others having only a temporary Residence in this State, for the Purpose of transacting any particular Business, or on their Travels, from bringing and employing such Slaves as Servants, during the Time of his or her Stay here, provided such Slave shall not be sold or disposed of in this State.
4. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all the Forfeitures which may be recovered as aforesaid shall, by the Collector recovering the same, be paid into the Treasury; and if any Collector shall be put to any necessary Expence in prosecuting as aforesaid, he shall be credited for the same out of the publick Money in his Hands; and in case any Collector shall neglect or refuse to prosecute to Effect, for any Fine or Forfeiture incurred as aforesaid, he shall, for every such Neglect or Refusal, forfeit and pay the Sum which he ought to have recovered, which, together with the Sums recovered by any Collector upon Non-Payment thereof, shall be sued for and recovered with Costs, by the Treasurer of this State for the Time being, to be applied to the Use of the State.
5. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for any Owner, Master or Mistress of any Negro or Mulatto Slave, to manumit and set free such Slave by executing a Writing under Hand and Seal, certifying such Manumission, and also obtaining a Certificate, signed by two of the Overseers of the Poor of the Township, and any two Justices of the Peace of the County wherein the said Master or Mistress may reside, in the Words or to the Effect following ;
We do hereby certify, that on this
Day of in the Year of our Lord One
Thousand Seven Hundred and
A B of the Township of in the said
County of brought before us, two of the
Overseers of the Poor of said Township, and two of the Justices of
the Peace of said County, his or her Slave, named
who on View and Examination appears to us to be found in Mind, and
not under any bodily Incapacity of obtaining a Support, and also is
not under twenty-one Years of Age, nor above thirty-five :
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our Hands the Day
of One Thousand Seven Hundred and
And recording such Certificates in the Clerk's Office of the County in which the said Master or Mistress shall then reside, provided such Slave shall not, when set free, be under the Age of twenty-one Years, nor exceed the Age of thirty-five Years, the Master or Mistress, giving the Freedom in such Cafe, shall forever thereafter be exonerated and acquitted from all Costs and Charges which may arise for the Support of the Slave so manumitted, excepting their Proportion of any Tax that hereafter may be assessed for the Support of the said Slave.
6. And be it further Enacted That the legal Settlement of every Slave, manumitted as aforesaid, that shall or may be likely to become a publick Charge, shall, and the fame is hereby declared in all Cases whatsoever to be in that Township in this State where the Master or Mistress manumitting such Slave may have a legal Settlement at the Time of such Manumission ; and that no Possession, Duty or Employment of, or Taxes paid by, a manumitted Slave, shall procure a Settlement otherwise than herein above-mentioned, any Law, Usage or Custom to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding.
7. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Slave, which hath been or shall be manumitted or set free, shall hereafter be convicted of Felony, or any other Crime or Offence in this State above the Degree of Petit Larceny, and shall not be condemned to suffer Death for the same, or shall be convicted of having more than twice been guilty of Petit Larceny or other Offence equally criminal and injurious to the Community, the Court before whom such Conviction in either Case above-mentioned may be had, shall give Judgment against the Offender, that, within one Month after being released from Confinement, he or she shall remove out of the State, and remain in Exile out of the same during Life, or for such a Term of Years as the Court shall judge adequate to the Crime or Offence; and if any such Offender shall be found in the State after the Time fixed for removing out of the same, and before the Expiration of the Time limited for his or her Continuance in Exile, every such Offender, so found in the State, shall be immediately taken up and secured by the Sheriff of the County in which such exiled Offender shall be found, which Offender the said Sheriff shall sell at publick Auction for the Term remaining of his or her Banishment, whether the same shall be for Life or for a limited Term, and every Offender sold by the sheriff as herein directed shall remain the Property of the Purchaser, or his Assigns during the Term such Sale by this Act is authorized to be made; and all the Money arising by any Sale made as aforesaid the Sheriff making the same shall be accountable for, and pay to the Treasurer of this State for the Time being, for the Use of the State, after deducting five per Cent therefrom for the Trouble and Expence of such Sale.
8. And be it further Enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the Grand-Jury of any County in this State to indict any Person for inhumanly treating and abusing his or her Slave; and if, upon the Prosecution of any such Indictment, the said Master or Mistress shall be convicted of the Offence, the Court before whom such Conviction shall be had may impose such Fine for the Offence as in their Discretion they shall deem proper, not exceeding Five Pounds for the first, and Ten Pounds for the second Offence ; which Fine, when recovered, shall be paid to the Overseer of the Poor for the Use of the Townfhip in which the said Master or Mistress shall reside.
9. And be it further Enacted, That no Negro or Mulatto manumitted and set free in any other State shall be permited to travel or reside in this State ; and if any Inhabitant of this State shall Harbour, conceal or employ any Negro or Mulatto, set free in any other State, and coming into this State, or suffer any such Negro or Mulatto to live on his or her Land, or in his or her House or other Tenement for one Week, every Person so offending shall forfeit and pay the Sum of Five Pounds for every Week he or she shall harbour, conceal, employ or furnish such Negro or Mulatto with House or Land as aforesaid, to be recovered with Costs by and to the Use of any Person who will sue for the same ; and that no Negro or Mulatto, manumitted in this State, shall be permited to travel or remain in any County or Township in this State other than in the County or Township in which such Slave was set free, without a Certificate from two Justices of the Peace of the County in which the Manumiffion was effected, certifying that such Negro or Mulatto was set free in such a Township in the County, countersigned by the Clerk of the County under the Seal of the Court.
A Passed at Trenton, March 2, 1786.