- Alabama, 1833, section 31 – “Any person or persons who attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read, or write, shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.”
- Alabama, 1833, section 32 – “Any free person of color who shall write for any slave a pass or free paper, on conviction thereof, shall receive for every such offense, thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, and leave the state of Alabama within thirty days thereafter…”
- Alabama, 1833, section 33 – “Any slave who shall write for any other slave, any pass or free-paper, upon conviction, shall receive, on his or her back, one hundred lashes for the first offence, and seven hundred lashes for every offence thereafter…”
- South Carolina – A fine of one hundred dollars and six months in prison are imposed for teaching a slave to read and write, and death is the penalty for circulating incendiary literature
I was watching a Chris Rock special when I heard him make several statements that appeared to be exaggerations. So, I went to look them up. Guess what, they were all true! This struck me strongly because there has been a tendency in the Deep South (where I live) to say that all was not as bad as it was pictured back in the Old South. The answer is that, “Yes, it was.” The laws applied to slaves were horrific. Their enforcement would have killed off many a slave. It is clear and unequivocal that the laws were designed to torture-kill a slave who misbehaved more than once.
This is the part of our history that the modern textbook warriors are trying to hide. By stating that schools should teach patriotism, many in the Deep South are saying that we should not teach the history of what happened in the Old South. It is no surprise that many in the Old South do not wish the history to be taught. But, as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” To allow history to be taught is to allow the thought to creep in that maybe matters—such as affirmative action—are but the appropriate manner to deal with previous lack of opportunities. So, there are many in the Old South who realize that they cannot allow history to be taught. So they go to school boards with the argument that they simply want balance.
Balance is the least of what they want. What they really want is to prevent the teaching of history so that none of their children may understand what truly happened back then.