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Slavery go backgo upgo to next Fair Pay?

Justice for the Black Loyalists was rarely blind. In fact, they were assumed to be an inferior sort of citizen, barely capable of making their own decisions. From the start they were denied the right to vote, which was not entirely unusual at the time, and denied the right to be tried by jury. Their unequal status put them in grave danger in an era where slavery was still very real.

Even the most seemingly trivial expressions of independence were condemned as evidence of immorality. Shelburne, in particular, made a crusade of banning the dances, 'frolicking', and gambling that were popular activities among the town's free blacks. Handbills were printed and distributed around town, and offenders were summarily convicted and thrown in jail. Still, the frolicking and dances continued; a year later blacks were entirely banned from gathering for non-religious purposes. Repeat offenders might have their homes seized by the town. This came about in a town of 7000 residents and 29 licensed taverns, whose citizens were snidely described by a local merchant as 'dancing beggars'. White dances and gambling dens were both popular and tolerated. Clearly there was more at work here than a mere concern for public order.

Blacks were denied any right to a jury trial; they were instead summarily tried and sentenced by a magistrate. Blacks often received harsh sentences for minor crimes while whites would typically receive a fine. One girl in Shelburne was sentenced to 350 lashes for stealing a couple of small items. Another man was whipped publicly all over town (20 lashes at each of 5 stops), and then indentured for 5 years. Banishment and forced labour were common punishments, even for offenses as minor as idleness. One man was sentenced to forced labour simply for eyeing a white man's potato patch too hungrily.

Slavery go backgo upgo to next Fair Pay?
Image Credit: 'Dancing Blacks' by Tina Elliot 'Negro Frolicks' were banned in the town of Shelburne.

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