What laws where used  to control slaves?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were several laws used to control the slaves. The plantation owners believed the slaves needed to be controlled to prevent rebellion.  Rebellion was a constant fear the slave owners faced. As a result, laws, called the slave codes, were passed.  The slave codes restricted what the slaves were able to do.  For example, slaves could not leave the plantation without a pass. White southerners patrolled the paths, and if a slave was caught off the plantation without a pass, punishment could be severe.  Slaves were not allowed to assemble in large groups.  The reason for this is plantation owners feared a large gathering could lead to a revolt, or at the very least, the planning of some kind of action. A third example of a slave code was that slaves were not allowed to be educated.  Slaves could not be taught how to read or write. The concern with education is that if slaves could read, they might learn about how bad their situation was. They might be able to find out what was happening elsewhere.  This could encourage an attempt at revolting.  If slaves could write, it would be easier to plan possible actions against the plantation owners.  Another way slaves were controlled was by having overseers monitor their actions. The overseers would report to plantation owners if they saw or heard anything being discussed that could be harmful to the plantation owner.  There were many ways, including several laws, used to control the actions of slaves.

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