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"AN ACT," February 5, 1840

Summary: This law tried to prevent any free blacks from living in Texas. Provided that any free blacks trying to enter Texas would be arrested and sold into slavery for one year. If at the end of that year he could not post bond, he would be sold as a slave for life. The proceeds from the sales would go into the public treasury. Gave free blacks already living in Texas two years to leave or they would face the same punishment. The last provision also threatened punishment for any ship captains who assisted free blacks in getting into Texas.


Concerning Free Persons of Color.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act, it shall not be lawful for any free person of color to emigrate to this Republic.

Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, That if any free persons of color shall emigrate to this Republic, it shall be the duty of the sheriff, or any one of the constables of the county to which such emigration shall be made, to arrest such free person of color, after giving him ten day's notice, and bring him before the Chief Justice of the county, or Judge of the district; and it shall be the duty of the Chief Justice, or Judge of the district, before whom such free person of color may be brought, to receive the bond of such free person of color in the sum of one thousand dollars, with the security of a citizen, to be approved by him, conditioned for the removal of such free person of color out of the limits of the Republic.

Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That if any free person of color should be brought before any Chief Justice of any county, or District Judge, and shall not be able to give the bond as prescribed in the second section of this act, such Chief Justice, or District Judge, shall commit such free person of color to the public jail, with an order to the sheriff to expose him to public sale to the highest bidder, at the court-house door of his county, after giving four weeks' notice of the same, in the nearest public journal, and at least four public places in his county; and the said purchaser shall and may exercise all the rights of ownership over said free person of color, for one year from such sale.

Sec. 4. Be it further enacted, And if any such free person of color, shall during the year of such slavery, be able to give his


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bond as contemplated in the second section of this act, to take effect at the end of his slavery, he shall be permitted to do so; but if he shall fail to render the bond, until after the expiration of his slavery, it shall be the duty of the purchaser to return him into the hands of the sheriff.

Sec. 5. Be it further enacted, It shall be the duty of the sheriff. upon the return of any such free person of color, upon giving six weeks' notice in some public journal, and at least four public places in his county, to expose the free person of color so returned, at public sale, to the highest bidder; and such free person of color so sold shall remain a slave for life: Provided, That if any person of color so sold should be the property of any individual, he shall have his right of recovery by due course of law.

Sec. 6. Be it further enacted, All monies arising from the sale of such free person of color, shall be paid into the county treasury, subject to appropriation by the District Court for public purposes.

Sec. 7. Be it further enacted, Upon the forfeiture of the bond of any free people of color, the same shall be placed in the hands of the District Attorney for collection, who shall prosecute the same against the securities only; and the amount of sale, if such shall have been made, of the free person of color, shall, in all cases, be subtracted from the amount adjudged against the securities, and the remainder only shall be recovered of them.

Sec. 8. Be it further enacted, That two years shall be allowed, from and after the passage of this act, to all free persons of color who are now in this Republic, to remove out of the same; and all those who shall be found here after that time, without the permission of Congress, shall be arrested and sold as provided in this act.

Sec. 9. Be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any master of a vessel, or owner thereof, nor for any other person or persons whatsoever, to bring, import, induce, or aid or assist in the bringing, importing, or inducing any free person of color within the limits of Texas, directly or indirectly; and any person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be fined in a sum of not less than one nor more than ten thousand dollars: Provided, That cooks and other hands employed on board of vessles shall not be considered as coming within the provisions of this act.

Sec. 10. Be if further enacted, That the President of the Republic do issue his proclamation, commanding all free persons of color who are now in the Republic, to remove from the same


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before the first of January, 1842, and the Secretary of State publish this act a number of times in all the journals of this Republic.

Sec. 11. Be it further enacted, That all laws contrary to the meaning and spirit of this act, are hereby repealed.

DAVID S. KAUFMAN,

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

DAVID G. BURNET,

President of the Senate.

Approved 5th February, 1840.

MIRABEAU B. LAMAR.


Source Copy Consulted: "AN ACT," February 5, 1840, reprinted in H.P.H. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, 12 vols., (Austin: Gammel Book Co., 1898), 2:325-327. http://texinfo.library.unt.edu/lawsoftexas