Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Slave Codes and Literacy
Slave codes were laws enacted by colonial and state legislatures in the American South limiting the rights of enslaved African Americans and authorizing the use of force in an attempt to keep slaves subservient to their White masters. Typically, slave codes included provisions making it illegal to teach literacy skills to slaves. The driving force behind the literacy prohibitions was a fear on the part of slaveowners that literate slaves could use the ability to write to either initiate revolts by communicating with fellow conspirators seeking to overthrow slavery, or at the least, create forged passes that would allow slaves ...