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Unlawful Assemblies.

--A bill was reported in the House yesterday to "amend and re-enact the 31st section of chapter 198 of the revised Code of Virginia, which contains some important provisions. It says that the section and chapter of the Code alluded to shall be made to read as follows: Every assemblage of negroes for the purposes of religious worship, when such worship is conducted by a negro, and every assemblage of negroes for the purpose of instruction in reading or writing, or in the night time for any purpose, shall be an unlawful assembly. Any justice may issue his warrant to any officer or other person, requiring him to enter any place where such assemblage may be, and seize any negro therein, and he or any other justice may order such negro to be punished with stripes; and that any Minister of the Gospel, or other white person, in charge of a negro church or congregation as pastor, or conductor of their religious worship, knowing of such unlawful assemblage and not preventing the same, for every such unlawful assemblage of negroes at their place of worship, so under the charge of such minister or other white person, shall be fined not less than five nor more than fifty dollars--such fine to be recovered by warrant before any Justice of the Peace for the county, town or city wherein the said offence may occur.

The assemblage of free negroes in the day time whereby the free use of the public streets is obstructed, or any assemblage on any lot, tenement or plantation by free negroes, other than the owner or occupiers of such lot, tenement or plantation, for more than three hours, not engaged in some useful occupation, without a permit of his employer or a justice of the peace for the county, city or town wherein such assemblage may be, and seize any negro in such assemblage, and he or any other justice may order such negro to be punished with stripes.

The judicature and official organization of every congregation of the colored population for religious worship, shall be composed of white persons. The assemblage of such a body, composed of negroes, shall be deemed an unlawful assembly, and punished as provided in the first section. Any assemblage of a negro congregation, so organized, shall be deemed of an unlawful assembly, unless in the presence of at least five white persons. Authority is granted County Courts to make such orders or pass such ordinances in their respective jurisdictions as they may deem just and proper, for the location and regulation of negro congregations for religious worship or other purposes not contrary to the laws and the Constitution of Virginia.

The bill, of which the above is the material substance, was advanced to its second reading.

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31 AD (1)
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