"An Act for the Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and Other Slaves in this Province" or Slave Code of South Carolina, May 1740

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South Carolina’s Slave Code of 1740 was a series of laws aimed at controlling the population of enslaved African Americans.  It prohibited slaves from gathering without white supervision, learning to read and write, and growing their own food.  It also created harsher punishments for disobeying the law.  The legislature enacted the Slave Code shortly after the Stono Rebellion, which reinforced slave owners’ fears of slave uprisings. 


1740 South Carolina Slave Code.  Acts of the South Carolina General Assembly, 1740 # 670. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Transcription from McCord, David J., ed.  The Statutes at Large of South Carolina.  Vol. 7, Containing the Acts Relating to Charleston, Courts, Slaves, and Rivers.  Columbia, SC: A.S. Johnston, 1840, p. 397.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the exploration and settlement of South Carolina and the United States.

Indicator 3-2.7 Explain the transfer of the institution of slavery into South Carolina from the West Indies, including the slave trade and the role of African Americans in the developing plantation economy; the daily lives of African American slaves and their contributions to South Carolina, such as the Gullah culture and the introduction of new foods; and African American acts of resistance against white authority. (H, E, P, G)

Standard 4.2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of North America by Native Americans, Europeans, African-Americans and the interactions among these peoples.

Indicator 4-2.5 Summarize the introduction and establishment of slavery in the American colonies, including the role of the slave trade; the nature of the Middle Passage; and the types of goods—rice, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and rum, for example—that were exchanged among the West Indies, Europe, and the Americas. (E, H, G, P)

Indicator 4-2.7 Explain how conflicts and cooperation among the Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans influenced colonial events including the French and Indian Wars, slave revolts, Native American wars, and trade. (H, G, P, E)

Standard 8-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the settlement of South Carolina and the United States by Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans.

Indicator 8-1.4 Explain the growth of the African American population during the colonial period and the significance of African Americans in the developing culture (e.g., Gullah) and economy of South Carolina, including the origins of African American slaves, the growth of the slave trade, the impact of population imbalance between African and European Americans, and the Stono Rebellion and subsequent laws to control the slave population. (H, G, P, E)

Standard USHC-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of exploration and settlement of North America.

Indicator USHC-1.1 Summarize the distinct characteristics of each colonial region in the settlement and development of America, including religious, social, political, and economic differences. (H, E, P, G)


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Lessons Using This Document

Effects of the Stono Rebellion

An Eye for an Eye

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