Immigration and Residency
For enslaved African Americans in Southern states, Indiana must have been seen as a haven. After all, territorial and state law prohibited slavery. Indiana lawmakers, however, did not consider slaves who crossed into its borders refugees. They were fugitives; or worse, they were considered slaves. The immigration and residency laws of the state reinforced this policy. Consequently, Indiana voided any contract made by an immigrating black, unless the person satisfied the state's rigid immigration and residency policy. A slave holder could legally bring enslaved blacks into the state, but state law compelled free blacks to prove their freedom. Consequently, it was easier for a slave to become a resident of Indiana than a free black. As the following documents, will show, neither free nor enslaved blacks benefited from the state's civil rights laws.
An act concerning the introduction of Negroes and mulattoes into this Territory. (This law also applied to Illinois, a part of the Indiana territory.) Approved August 26, 1805, Laws of the Indiana Territory.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislative Council and House of Representatives, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful for any person being the owner or possessor of any negroes or mulattoes of and above the age of fifteen years, and owing service and labor as slaves in either of the states or territories of the United States, or for any citizen of the said states or territories purchasing the same, to bring the said negroes or mulattoes into this territory.