An Act to Provide for the Protection of Property in Slaves in this Territory (1859)



Be it enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico:

SECTION 1.  That every person who shall be convicted of the unlawful killing of a slave or other offence upon the person of a slave within this Territory, whether as principal or accessory, shall suffer the same pains and penalties as if the party upon whose person the offence was committed had been a free white person.

SEC. 2.   Every person who shall steal any slave with the intent that the owner, or any one having an interest in such slave, present or future, vested or contingent, legal or equitable, shall be deprived of the use or benefit of such slave, shall, upon conviction, suffer imprisonment for a term not more than ten nor less than four years, and be fined in a sum not more than two thousand nor less than five hundred dollars.  And every person who shall be violence, seduction, or other means, take and carry or entice away any slave with the like intent, shall be deemed and held, for every purpose whatever, to have stolen such slave within the meaning of this act.  And every person who, knowing any slave to have been stolen as aforesaid, shall aid, assist or advise in or about the carrying away of such slave, shall suffer the like penalties as are above prescribed against the person stealing such slave as aforesaid.

SEC. 3.  Every person who shall carry or convey, or willfully assist in carrying or conveying any slave, the property of another, with the intent or for the purpose of aiding or enabling such slave to escape out of this Territory, or within this Territory and beyond the control or recovery of his owner or master, or who shall willfully secrete or conceal such slave from his owner or master, shall, upon conviction thereof, suffer the same penalties as are prescribed I the foregoing section of this act.  And in any indictment preferred against any person for the violation of any of the provisions of this act, the property in the slave shall be well laid, if charged to belong to any person having an interest in such slave, whether such interest be legal or equitable, present or future, joint or several, vested or contingent.

SEC. 4. Every person who shall forge or furnish to any negro, free or slave, any false or fabricated free papers or false evidences in print or writing of the freedom of such negro, shall, upon conviction, suffer imprisonment for a term not more than five years nor less than six months, and be fined in a sum not more than one thousand nor less than one hundred dollars.

SEC. 5.  Any person who shall hire, entice, persuade, or in any manner induce any slave to absent himself from the service or custody of his owner or master or who shall, upon any pretense, harbor or maintain any slave so absenting himself from such service or custody, shall, upon conviction thereof, suffer fine and imprisonment as prescribed in section four of this act, and shall besides be liable to the owner or master in a civil suit for damages.

SEC. 6. Any person who shall endeavor to excite in any slave a spirit of insurrection, conspiracy or rebellion, or who shall advise, countenance, aid, or in any manner abet any slave in resistance against his owner or master, shall, upon conviction, suffer imprisonment not less than three months nor more than three years, and be fined in a sum not less than twenty-five nor more than one thousand dollars.

SEC. 7. Any person who shall sell, lend, hire, give, or in any manner furnish to any slave any sword, dirk, bowie-knife, gun, pistol or other fire arms, or any other kind of deadly weapon of offence, or any ammunition of any kind suitable for fire arms, shall, upon conviction, suffer the penalties prescribed in section six of this act: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to prohibit the owner or master of any slave from temporarily arming such slave with such weapon and ammunition for the purpose of the lawful defense of himself, his family or property.

SEC. 8. All trade or traffic between free persons and slaves in any article of goods, merchandize, provisions, supplies, or other commodity whatever, is hereby prohibited, unless the slave shall have and exhibit the permission of his owner or master in writing, to trade or traffic, which written permission must specifically set forth the articles or commodities which such slave is authorized to sell, buy or barter.  And any persons who shall violate the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, suffer the penalties prescribed in section six of this act.  And if any person other than the owner or master of such slave shall furnish to any such slave any fabricated, false or forged permit to trade as aforesaid, he shall suffer the same penalties as are prescribed in the said sixth section of this act.

SEC. 9. Any free person who shall play with any slave at any game of cards, or other game of skill, chance, hazard or address, either with or without betting there[  ] shall be held guilty of a misdemeanor, and be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not exceeding three months, or both, at the discretion of the court.

SEC. 10.  Any person may lawfully take up or apprehend any slave who shall have run away, or be absenting himself from the custody or service of his master or owner, and may lawfully use or employ such force as may be necessary to take up or apprehend such slave; and such person upon the delivery of such slave to his master or owner, or at such place as such master  or owner may designate, shall be entitled to demand or recover by suit any reward which may have been offered for the apprehension or delivery of such slave.  And if no reward has been offered, then such person, so apprehending such slave, shall, upon the delivery of such slave to his master or owner, or to the sheriff of the county in which such slave was apprehended, be entitled to demand and recover form such owner or master the sum of twenty dollars, besides ten cents for each mile of travel to and from the place where such apprehension was made.

SEC. 11.  If any sheriff of any county within this Territory shall fail or refuse to receive and keep with proper care any runaway slave so offered to him for safe-keeping by such person apprehending the same, or his agent, such sheriff shall, upon conviction thereof, be find in a sum not less than five hundred dollars, to the use of the Territory; shall further be liable to the owner of such slave for his value, recoverable  by civil suit, and shall be ineligible for re-election to the said office.

SEC. 12.  The said sheriff, upon receiving such runaway into his custody as aforesaid, shall forthwith cause to be inserted in some public newspaper of this Territory a full and particular description of such slave, stating therein the date of his commitment to jail as a runaway, which advertisement he shall cause to be continued for the space of six months, unless such slave shall sooner be delivered up to his owner or master, upon proof of ownership or right of possession and payment of all costs, as hereinafter provided.  But if, at the expiration of six months from the date of the first insertion of such advertisement, no owner or master shall appear and reclaim his said slave, then it shall be the duty of the said sheriff to cause to be inserted in such newspaper a further advertisement, setting forth as before a full description of such slave, with the date of his commitment as aforesaid, and a recital of the former advertisement, and giving notice that upon a particular day tot be named, not less than six nor more than seven months subsequent to the first insertion of such advertisement, he will, at the door of his jail or of the court-house of his county, sell the said slave to the highest bidder for cash.  And on the sale-day so appointed, the said sheriff, or his successor in office, shall, accordingly, between the hours of 12 o’clock M. and 2 o’clock P.M., at the place of slave, offer at public venue and sell to this highest bidder for cash, the said slave, and shall execute to the purchaser of his bill of slave for such slave, which shall  vest in such purchaser a good and indefeasible title against all persons whatever: Provided, however, that if the owner or master shall, at any time before such slave, appear and reclaim the said slave as herein after provided, and pay all costs and expenses due to the said sheriff, the taker-up and the newspaper, (for all which the sheriff is authorized to receipt,) then such slave shall be delivered up to such owner or master.

SEC. 13.  Before any slave in custody of the sheriff as a runaway shall be delivered up to any claimant, such claimant shall, First, prove by the affidavit of some disinterested person taken before such judge, justice of the peace, or notary public, (whose official characters, if officers of another State or Territory, shall be legally authenticated,) that he, the claimant, has lost such a slave as described in the advertisement aforesaid; Second, the claimant shall make his own affidavit that the slave in custody is the identical slave so lost, and to which he is entitled as owner or master (or as agent for the owner of master, producing authority as such agent by power of attorney duly acknowledged and authenticated); Third, give bond to the said sheriff with security to be approved by him, to indemnify him against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons to such slave; Forth, pay all costs and charges, as follows: the fee for apprehension as aforesaid with mileage, the sheriff’s costs of one dollar for receiving such slave into custody, one dollar for each advertisement made as aforesaid, and ten cents per day for each day the said slave has remained in his custody, and also the costs of the newspaper for the advertisement of such slave.

SEC. 14.  If, after delivering up such slave to such claimant, any other person should appear and demand the said slave as his right and property, the said sheriff shall assign and deliver the said bond to such person, who may thereon institute suit in his own name and recover the value of said slave and all damages from the makers of such bond, but the said sheriff shall be thereby fully acquitted of all liability on account of the said slave: Provided, nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the true owner from proceeding against the person in possession of such slave for the specific recovery of such slave, or for any other redress against such person as he may be legally entitled to.

SEC. 15. In case such slave shall be sold as provide din section 12, then it shall be the duty of the said sheriff, after first deducing the costs and charges aforesaid, and the further costs of five per cent upon the proceeds of such sale as his commission thereon, to pay over the surplus of such proceeds to the Territorial Treasurer, taking his receipt therefore, and filing with such Treasurer a statement of all costs and charges retained by him as aforesaid; and the said Treasurer shall duly charge himself with and account for such proceeds as for other public funds.

SEC. 16.  If any person shall fail to maintain or properly provide food, lodging and raiment for any slave of which he is the owner, any judge of the district court, probate judge, or justice of the peace, may, and upon sworn information made before him shall cause such person by his warrant to be brought before him, and upon investigation and proof of such facts in a summary manner without appeal, such judge or justice may require such person to enter into bond with sufficient surety payable to the Territory in such sum as he shall require, and conditioned for the support and maintenance of such slave in the future, which bond may at any time thereafter be put in suit upon the affidavit of any person that the same has become forfeited.

SEC. 17.  When a slave shall be indicted for felony, the clerk of the court, upon the arrest of such slave or return of such indictment, shall issue a citation to the owner or master named in such indictment, requiring him to appear and defend his said slave; and in case such owner or master shall not so appear, it shall be the duty of the court trying the same to appoint counsel for such slave, who shall be authorized to direct the summons of all witnesses for the defense, and in all respects to conduct the same; and the court shall allow to such counsel a reasonable fee for this services, and tax the same as other costs, and award execution against the said owner therefore.

SEC. 18.  Any owner of a slave indicted and convicted of cruel and inhuman treatment to such slave, shall be punished by imprisonment not more than one year, and fine not more than one thousand dollars.

SEC. 19.  Any owner of a slave who shall suffer such slave to hire his own time, or go at large and employ himself as a free man, for more than twenty-four hours  at any one time, shall, upon conviction thereof, before any justice of the peace, be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, to enure to the county treasury.

SEC. 20.  Any slave who shall conduct himself disorderly in a public place, or shall give insolent language, or signs, to any free white person, may be arrested and taken by such person before a justice of the pace, who, upon trial and conviction in a summary manner, shall cause his constable to give such slave any number of stripes upon his bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine.

SEC. 21.  When any slave shall be convicted of any crime or misdemeanor for which the penalty assigned by law is in all or in part of a sum of money, the court passing sentence upon him may, in its discretion, substitute for such fine corporal punishment by branding or with stripes.

SEC. 22.  No slave, free negro or mulatto shall be permitted to give evidence in any court against a free white person, but against each other they shall be competent witnesses.

SEC. 23.  Marriages between white persons and slaves or free negroes or mulattoes are prohibited, and such rites of matrimony are declared void; and any free white person attempting to enter into or procure a marriage with such slave, or free negro or mulatto, upon indictment and conviction shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding six months, and fine not exceeding three hundred dollars.

SEC. 24.  Any slave, free negro or mulatto, who shall commit or attempt to commit a rape upon the person of any white woman, shall, upon conviction thereof, suffer death.

SEC. 25.  The emancipation of slaves within this Territory is totally prohibited.

SEC. 26.  No slave shall be permitted to go from the premises of his owner or master, after sunset and before sunrise, without a written pass specifying the particular place of places to which such slave is permitted to go; and any white person is authorized to take any slave, who upon demand shall not exhibit such pass, before any justice of the peace, who, upon summary investigation, shall cause such slave to be whipped with not more than thirty-nine stripes upon his bare back, and to be committed to the jail or custody of a proper officer, to be released the next day on the demand and payment of costs by the owner or master.

SEC. 27.  Any person claiming to be entitled to the possession of any slave, which is withheld from him, may either institute his action of replevin therefore, as for other property, or upon his sworn petition directed to the district judge of the district wherein such slave may be, shall be entitled to the writ of habeas corpus directed to the person having such slave in possession, upon which such proceedings shall be had as are now had upon such process when instituted for other persons; and if the judge upon hearing such cause shall see fit, he may require the party to whom he adjudges the possession of the slave, to enter into such bond to such amount, and with such security as he shall approve, payable to the adverse party, conditioned for the safe delivery of said slave, to abide the judgment or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction, which may be rendered in any suit to be instituted within six months from the date of such bond; which bond, upon breach thereof, may be prosecuted to judgment against the makers of the same, or any of the, by the payee thereof, his executors or administrators, or assigns.  And any court of chancery shall entertain a bill for the specific recovery of any slave without allegation or proof of peculiar value or pretium affectionis.

SEC. 28.  Any person who shall hold as a slave any negro or mulatto who is entitled to his freedom, shall, upon conviction, suffer imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten nor less than five years, and be fined in a sum not less than five hundred nor more than two thousand dollars.

SEC. 29.  When a word in this act is used in the masculine form, it shall include the feminine; where used in the singular, it shall include the plural, and vice versa; and the word “master” shall be taken to include any person who, whether as owner, bailee or otherwise, has or is entitled to have the immediate possession or control of the slave.

SEC. 30.  That this act shall be in force from and after its passage.


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