Michigan's declaration of rights deteriorated, at least for African-
American residents soon after the State's first legislature assembled.
For example, professional slave catchers, and other freelancing
whites, made kidnapping free blacks a regular routing throughout
the North. The Legislature in Michigan, however, made modest
efforts to protect its free black citizens. The State's lawmakers
considered kidnapping an infringement of state law. They were less
offended when slave catchers trampled upon the legal rights of their
African-American residents. Michigan's official code on race,
therefore, was barely egalitarian in comparison to other states in the
An act to regulate blacks and mulattoes, and to punish the kidnapping of such persons. Approved April 13, 1827, Laws of Michigan.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan, that from and after the first day of May next, no black or mulatto person shall be permitted to settle or reside in this Territory, unless he or she shall produce a fair certificate, from some court within the United States, of his or her actual freedom, which certificate shall be attested by the clerk of said court, and the seal thereof annexed thereto by the said court.
Section 2. That every black or mulatto person, now residing in this Territory, shall, on or before the first day of January next, enter his or her name, together with the name or names of his or her children, in the office of the clerk of the county court, in the county in which he, she, or they reside which shall be entered of said record by said clerk, and there after the clerk's