House of Delegates ... Mr. Jacobs, from Committee on Colored Population ... A Bill ... which punishes negroes calling for, or receiving incendiary papers.

[Annapolis, MD]: [January 1860].

Price: $6,500.00


About the item

3pp. Bifoilum. Unstitched. Cf. Bradley Alston, "The 1858-60 Maryland Re-Enslavement Showdown" Baltimore Gaslight, vol. 17, No. 3 (Winter 2018).

Item #353321

The slip bill, marked Bill H at the top of the first page, proposes an amendment to the seventy-fifth section of the thirtieth article of the Maryland code of public general laws, stating "that if any free negro shall knowingly call for, demand or receive any abolitionist book, handbill, pamphlet, newspaper, pictorial representaion, or other paper of any inflammatory character, having a tendency to create discontent amongst, or stir up to insurrection the negroes in this State, or to induce slaves to abscond from their masters ... he shall ... be sold as a slave for life." The bill further punishes postmasters for handing abolitionist material with ten to twenty years in prison if convicted. According to the Proceedings of the House, the Bill was first proposed on January 17 and was reported on favorably by the chair of the committee Curtis M. Jacobs on February 7, 1860. However, the bill failed to pass.

The bill was one of several recommendations of the Committee on Colored Population following the 1859 Baltimore Slaveholders Convention and in response to John Brown's October 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry. In 1860, Maryland's population included roughly 87,000 slaves and nearly 84,000 free blacks, the latter being by far the most in any slave state. With most of the free blacks residing in Baltimore, the southern and eastern shore counties, which relied on slave labor, were fearful of insurrection and often petitioned the House of Delgates to protect their interests, with some counties going so far as to advocate for the re-enslavement of all free blacks. The present bill was one of several suggested to the Committee in January 1860, just a month following John Brown's execution.

Unrecorded in OCLC, slip bills – with widely-spaced numbered lines to allow for discussion and revision – were strictly printed for the use of the delegates and therefore rare.