Slaves could die from ‘moderate correction’

“Black codes and slave courts in the North American colonies, like those in the Caribbean, focused intensely on protecting the bodies of slaves while masking the extremities of mutilation….

“In John Haywood’s A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina (1808), a person would be judged ‘guilty of willfully and maliciously killing a slave’ except when the slave died resisting his master or when ‘dying under moderate correction.’

“To style the ‘correction’ of a slave that causes death ‘moderate’ is to assure that old abuses and arbitrary acts would continue to be masked by vague standards and apparent legitimacy.”

— From “Cruel and Unusual: The end of the Eighth Amendment” by Joan Dayan at Boston Review (Oct. 7, 2004)

 

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