One hundred twenty-three citizens of Chester District seek the repeal of an 1834 law preventing the practice of teaching slaves to read the scriptures and other religious books. The petitioners argue that "in many places this law could not be enforced"; that "this law is also believed by many ... to invade the rights of conscience"; and that this law cannot be defended because "the ability to read exists on probably every plantation in the State; and it is utterly impossible for even the masters to prevent this -- as is apparent from the cases in which servants learn to write by stealth, although all masters are very watchful to prevent this." The petitioners aver that the state has less to fear from intelligent than ignorant slaves; the latter might become followers "of every Nat Turner who might chance to pass along." They further surmise that "if Imperial Rome could manage even a classic slavery, and a large part of their slaves also the best trained soldiers in the world, the Romans excepted, does chivalrous South Carolina quail before gangs of cowardly Africans with a Bible in their hands? Let it not be said!!" The petitioners therefore believe "that it would be both politic and prudent to repeal said law."
Result: Referred to judiciary committee.
Or you may view all people.
Repository: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina