Slavery Agitation in Virginia, 1829-1832

By Theodore Marshall Whitfield | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE HIGH TIDE OF ANTI-SLAVERY FEELING
IN VIRGINIA

Anti-slavery feeling in Virginia reached its high tide in 1830. Relations between master and slave were during the years 1825-30 perhaps better than at any period since the birth of the nation. Manumissions were increasing and the lot of those retained in bondage was constantly improved by benevolent treatment. Severities of the law were ameliorated by personal kindness or entirely overlooked. That the lot of the slave was good is attested by the small number of runaways. Despite a slave population of 469,000, between May 1 and October 31, 1830, there appeared in three of the largest papers1 but thirty-eight offers for, or notices of the incarceration of, runaways, barely double the number of rewards offered for horses lost, strayed, or stolen. The list of slaves executed or transported for major crimes is likewise surprisingly short. For the eleven years, 1820-30, we find only 265 or 24.09 annually,-- less than .0061 per cent, convicted when the law allowed capital punishment more extensively than

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1
Richmond Whig, Richmond Enquirer, Richmond Commercial Compiler, May 19-21 of the last missing.

-47-

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