Testimony and Witness
Indiana law did not allow people of color to testify against a white. State law defined blacks, mulattoes and Indians as ineligible witnesses. A person of color could not protect himself or herself from a white in court unless another white testified against the assailant. Thus, a white could murder, assault, or rob a person of color, and, without a white witness, or a sympathetic judge, the victim would be powerless in court. Indiana statute deprived people of color legal protection from whites. The Civil War brought a few changes, as it did in most states. Indiana repealed its testimony law; yet, people of color could rarely testify against whites. The following documents illustrate Indiana's policy during the nineteenth century on its witness and testimony law.
An act regulating the practice in the General Court, and Court of Common Pleas, and for other purposes. Laws of Indiana, ( 1807).
Section 24. No Negro, Mulatto or Indian shall be a witness except in pleas of the United States against Negroes, Mulattoes or Indians, or in civil pleas, where Negroes, Mulattoes or Indians alone shall be parties.
Section 25. Every person other than a Negro, of whole grand fathers or grand mothers, any one is, or shall have been a Negro, although all his other progenitors, except that descending from a Negro, shall have been White persons, shall be deemed a Mulatto, and so every person who shall have one fourth part or more of Negro blood, shall in like manner be deemed a Mulatto.