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An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude

Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum

Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude recieved Royal Assent on July 9, 1793 which was a piece of legislation that gradually abolished slavery in Upper Canada.

No enslaved persons in the province were freed outright as a result of the enacted legislation. Though the Act prohibited the importation of enslaved persons into Upper Canada, it did not prevent the sale of slaves within the province or across the border into the United States. The Act stated that enslaved persons who were in the province at the time of its enactment would remain the property of their masters or mistresses for life, unless manumitted (freed) by their owners. Children born to enslaved women after 1793 would be freed when they reached 25 years of age. Children born to this cohort were free at birth. Slaveholders were required by law to provide food and clothing to the young children they enslaved. In addition, the Act required that former slaveholders provide security for recently freed slaves by ensuring that they were held in trust by a local church or town warden so as not to become a public charge. This measure encouraged slaveholders to employ their former slaves as indentured servants. The maximum term for an indenture contract was nine years and could be renewed. Structured as it was, the Act set the course for the abolition of slavery after one generation.

Details

  • Title: An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude
  • Original Source: Statutes of Upper Canada Cap. 7, 33 George III, 1793

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