The petitioners object to a recent revision of the Virginia law that places financial responsibility for retrieval of a hired slave who runs away on the owner rather than the person hiring the slave. Under the old law, the "hirer of a slave was considered as the owner of that slave for such term as the slave was hired to him, and if the slave should run away during such term, was compelled to pay all the costs of apprehension, jail fees & c." The only exception to the revised law is in cases of maltreatment of the slave by the hirer. The petitioners point out that the burden of proof lies with the slave owner who is forced to rely on the statement of the slave, "which will amount to nothing." In all, the law creates an unhealthy situation in the widespread practice of hiring out, they contend. "A large portion of those who hire negroes," they add, "especially in our cities, consists of Foreigners and of poor and ignorant persons who have no other idea of right and wrong than that which conforms exactly to their interest."
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Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia