Jan 9, 2017

Legal definition and history of (race-based) "SERVANTS"

    12:23 PM   No comments

SERVANTS, (negro or mulatto,) Pennsylvania. By the fourth section of the act for the gradual abolition of slavery, passed the first day of March, 1780, 1 Smith's Laws of Penn. 492, it is "provided that every negro or mulatto child, born within this state after the passing of this act, (who would in case this act had not been made, have been a servant for years, or life, or a slave) shall be by virtue of this act the servant of such person, or his assigns who would in such case have been entitled to the service of such child, until such child attain unto the age of twenty-eight years, in the manner and on the conditions, whereon servants bound by indenture for four years are or may be retained or holden; and shall be liable to like correction and punishment, and entitled to like relief, in case he be evilly treated by his master, and to like freedom dues and privileges, as servants bound by indenture for four years are entitled, unless the person to whom such services belong shall abandon his claim to the same; in which case the overseers of the poor where such child shall be abandoned shall by indenture bind out every such child so abandoned as an apprentice for a time not exceeding the age hereinbefore limited for the service of such children." And by the thirteenth section it is enac-ted, "that no covenant of personal servitude or apprenticeship whatsoever shall be valid or binding on a negro or mulatto for a longer time than seven years, unless such servant or apprentice were at the commencement of such servitude or apprenticeship, under the age of twenty-one years, in which case such negro or mulatto may be holden as a servant or apprentice, respectively, according to the covenant, as the case shall be, until he shall attain the age of twenty-eight years, but no longer." See 6 Binn. 204; 1 Browne's R. 369, n.
2. The act requires that a register of such children as would have been slaves shall be kept by a public officer therein designated. The want of registry entitles such child to freedom.

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