Reports: The Black Laws
Republication delegates to the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1802 lost their campaign to enfranchise African-American residents. Their opponents not only succeeded in defeating their proposal, they also captured the legislature the following year. As lawmakers, they succeeded in drafting statutes to make to make blacks an under-class. Subsequently, social reformers in Ohio sent to the legislature a series of petitions demanding repeal of the black laws. Their supporters in the assembly kept this issue current before their colleagues. House and Senate journals of the legislature clearly show an uncompromising effort of a few lawmakers to persuade the assembly to nullify the black laws. The legislature studied this question carefully in 1837 produced its first report on the black laws. The legislature moved haltingly on the question. Finally, in a political compromise in 1849, it nullified the black laws. African Americans played a significant role in achieving the rescission of the black laws. They obtained few additional benefits, at least not immediately. The following documents, in addition to showing legislative review of the black laws, illustrates the role played by black and white petitioners for their repeal. Unfortunately for scholars, the whereabouts of these petitions is unknown.
Report on petitions to repeal the black laws. December 4, 1837, Senate Journal.
The select committee to which was referred the numerous petitions of the citizens of this State, asking the repeal of certain laws, imposing restrictions