Acts of Alabama: Trials of Slaves (1819)

Below is an extract from the Acts of Alabama, 1818 to 1828, found online.  This is one of many Acts pertaining to people of color that will be posted on this blog. The original documents are at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, AL. 


An act to amend the several acts concerning the trial of Slaves (1819) 

Session: Annual Session, Oct-Dec 1819

Page: 88-89  


Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Alabama, in General Assembly convened, That from and after the passage of this act, the Justices of the Inferior court of every county or incorporation, shall be Justices of Oyer and Terminer, for trying slaves in this state charged with treason, felony or other crimes and misdemeanors of a higher grade than petit larceny, which trials shall be before any three or more Justices of the court aforesaid, and by a jury of twelve good and lawful men of the vicinage, where such crime shall have been committed.

 Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That whenever any slave shall be brought before a justice of the county court,


or the peace, for the commission of any offence against the penal laws of this state, of a higher grade than petit larceny, if the justice after examination should think, there are just or probable grounds of suspicion of the guilt or criminality of the offender, he shall immediately commit such slave to jail, and he is hereby empowered and directed to issue summons to the sheriff of the county, to summons the justices of the county court, and a jury of twelve good and lawful men of the vicinage, to meet at the court house of said county, neither of whom shall be master of said slave or related to the master or prosecutor of such slave, in any degree, which would be a cause of challenge to a juryman in a trial of a free person; and such court and jury shall proceed in the trial of such slave without presentment or indictment, and no slave shall be condemned, unless he be found guilty by a jury, after allowing him or her counsel in his or her defence whose fee amounting to ten dollars shall be paid by the owner of the slave: Provided always, That when judgment of death shall be passed upon such offender, there shall be thirty days (at least) between the time of passing judgment and the day of execution, except in cases of conspiracy, insurrection, or rebellion.

 Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That all acts and parts of acts, not repugnant to the provisions of this act, shall be, and the same are hereby continued in full force. 


JAMES DELLET Speaker of the House of Representatives
THOMAS BIBB President of the SenateApproved-Dec. 17, 1819



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