Ohio passes “Black Laws” designed to suppress the freedom of free Blacks in the North, reflecting the deteriorating social status of free Blacks.
1804 (Jan 5)
The Ohio legislature took the lead in passing "Black Laws" designed to restrict the rights and freedom of movement of free Blacks in the North. The laws reflected the steady deterioration of the legal and social status of free Blacks since the revolutionary war. Although Northern Blacks had endured severe restrictions in the colonial period, in some areas of New England they faced curfews at night, could not visit another town without permission, and could not own certain types of property; these were somewhat relieved by the atmosphere of freedom that prevailed in the North after 1776. By 1835, however, several Northern states prohibited free Black immigration and severely restricted or completely disfranchised Black voters. By 1860, according to Professor John Hope Franklin, it was difficult to distinguish, in terms of legal status, between enslaved Blacks and free Blacks.