Slavery and Crime in Missouri, 1773–1865

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About the Book

Slavery and its lasting effects have long been an issue in America, with the scars running deep. This study examines crimes such as stealing, burglary, arson, rape and murder committed against and by slaves, with most of the author’s information coming from handwritten court records and newspapers. These documents show the death penalty rarely applied when a slave killed another slave, but always applied when a slave killed a white person.
Despite Missouri’s grim criminal justice system, the state’s best lawyers were called upon to represent slaves in court on serious criminal charges, and federal law applied to all persons, granting slaves in Missouri protection that few other slave states had. By 1860, Missouri’s population was only 10 percent slave, the smallest percentage of any slave state in America.

About the Author(s)

Harriet C. Frazier, attorney and retired law professor in the Criminal Justice Department at University of Central Missouri, also has a Ph.D. in English. She lives in Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Harriet C. Frazier
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2001]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4331-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

List of Illustrations      xi

Preface      1

1. Spanish Colonial Administration      7

2. Early American Rule      26

3. Noncapital Territorial Wrongdoing      47

4. Slave Elijah’s 1818 Trial on a Charge of Conspiracy      67

5. The 1820 Missouri Constitution and Its Background      82

6. Costs in Criminal Cases      98

7. Against Themselves: Black-on-Black Crime      109

8. White Perpetrators, Black and Mulatto Victims      125

9. Noncapital Statehood Crime, White and Black      145

10. Capital Cases: Girls and Women      167

11. Capital Crimes by Coerced Boys and Men      195

12. Capital Crimes by Wandering Boys and Men      210

13. Rape: The Crime, Its Punishment, and Its Pardons      237

14. Antebellum Lynchings of Blacks, Slave and Free      251

Appendices      271


Notes      283

Bibliography      307

Index      319

Book Reviews & Awards

“comprehensive…an interesting and illuminating account of law and society in a slaveholding jurisdiction…valuable…recommended”—Catholic Library World; “illustrates superbly the major discontinuity in American slave law…excellent”—Civil War Book Review; “depth and extensiveness of research”—The Mount Newsletter; “important…a delight”—The Kansas City Star; “extensive primary and secondary research…a wealth of substantiated information…presents a part of history often purposely overlooked…gives a more complete record of the American experience”—Gateway: The Quarterly Magazine of the Missouri Historical Society; “the first comprehensive history of Missouri’s slaves as perpetrators and victims of crime…detailed index…useful”—The Cuba Free Press; “comprehensive”—St. Louis Post Dispatch.