Black Laws

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BLACK LAWS. Slavery was not legal in Ohio, but the state legislature tried to discourage settlement of free blacks in the state through "black laws," which imposed constraints on black residents. Ohio enacted laws in 1804 and 1807 compelling registration of all African Americans in the state, requiring that they show proof of freedom, forbidding any free black to remain without giving $500 bond against his becoming a public charge, and denying validity to an African American's testimony in trials where whites were involved. The legislature imposed even more restrictions in the 1830s. However, in the legislative session of 1848–1849, a coalition led by the Free Soil Party repealed most of the restrictions.


Finkelman, Paul. An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.

Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700–1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Alvin F.Harlow/c. p.

See alsoFree Soil Party .