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"Twenty-Negro," or Overseer Law: A Reconsideration

"Twenty-Negro," or Overseer Law: A Reconsideration john m. sacher On October 11, 1862, the Confederate Congress revised its conscription policy. The original act, passed in April 1862, had provided a list of exemptions for essential home-front occupations, including Confederate and state officers; mail carriers; teachers; nurses; printers; apothecaries; ministers; employees in mines, furnaces, and foundries; and men working on the railroads. In thinking about the requirements of the home front, legislators had forgotten several fundamental needs, among them the need to supervise the nation's slave population. In the antebellum South, the control of slaves, particularly on plantations, often rested in the hands of white overseers. In addition to performing their police role, overseers also contributed to crop yield, as white southerners presumed slaves worked more efficiently and produced larger crops under direct white supervision. The modified conscription law recognized the Confederacy's need for overseers: it stipulated that in order "to secure the proper police of the country" on each plantation with twenty or more slaves on "which there is no white male adult not liable to military service," one person shall be exempted from conscription while engaged as an overseer.1 This exemption, more commonly known as the "twenty-negro" or "twenty-slave" law, merits a close http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of the Civil War Era University of North Carolina Press

"Twenty-Negro," or Overseer Law: A Reconsideration

The Journal of the Civil War Era , Volume 7 (2) – Apr 23, 2017

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University of North Carolina Press
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Copyright @ The University of North Carolina Press
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2159-9807
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Abstract

john m. sacher On October 11, 1862, the Confederate Congress revised its conscription policy. The original act, passed in April 1862, had provided a list of exemptions for essential home-front occupations, including Confederate and state officers; mail carriers; teachers; nurses; printers; apothecaries; ministers; employees in mines, furnaces, and foundries; and men working on the railroads. In thinking about the requirements of the home front, legislators had forgotten several fundamental needs, among them the need to supervise the nation's slave population. In the antebellum South, the control of slaves, particularly on plantations, often rested in the hands of white overseers. In addition to performing their police role, overseers also contributed to crop yield, as white southerners presumed slaves worked more efficiently and produced larger crops under direct white supervision. The modified conscription law recognized the Confederacy's need for overseers: it stipulated that in order "to secure the proper police of the country" on each plantation with twenty or more slaves on "which there is no white male adult not liable to military service," one person shall be exempted from conscription while engaged as an overseer.1 This exemption, more commonly known as the "twenty-negro" or "twenty-slave" law, merits a close

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 23, 2017

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