Schwarz, Philip J. Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865. Originally published: [Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press]. . xvi, 354 pp. Reprinted 1998 by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN-13: 9781886363540; ISBN-10: 1886363544. Hardcover. New. $49.95 * Analyzes the history of enslaved African Americans' relationship with the criminal courts of the Old Dominion during a 160 year period. Before Twice Condemned was first published in 1988, historians often focused primarily on isolated or dramatic examples of the sometimes deadly conflict present in societies based on slave labor. But Twice Condemned analyzes the prevalence, longevity, and variety of behavior attributed to slave convicts. In doing so, this book also provides a detailed picture of how one slave society evolved, of some previously unexamined aspects of slave culture, and of slave owners' attitudes toward the "domestic enemy" in their midst. Schwarz' study is based on over four thousand trials from the colonial, early national, and antebellum periods. Twice Condemned traces the manner in which slaves' and whites' conflicting perceptions of legitimate behavior informed their actions. The judicial system for slaves served two purposes: it helped slave owners control slaves and enabled authorities to sanction criminal behavior. This dual function of slave trials mirrored the two kinds of slaves' behavior judges tried to suppress. Slaves' overt resistance to bondage was regularly curtailed and antisocial and dangerous actions were sometimes punished. Twice Condemned demonstrates that the relationship between slaves and the white-controlled justice system constantly changed. There were major variations in slaves' attacks on whites, and even on other slaves, depending on where enslaved Americans lived, how long they had lived there, and the previous behavior of slaves there. Similarly, accusations against and punishments of bondspeople varied from one community to another. While Schwarz concedes that trial records cannot offer a comprehensive view of slave resistance, he demonstrates that they do give the best indication yet of slaves' challenges to white authority and control, and of white responses to those challenges. When focused on slave resistance, this study illuminates some of the many way.
Book number 21752