The Twenty Negro Law

October 11, 1862

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact… to secure the proper police of the country, one person, either as agent, owner or overseer on each plantation on which one white person is required to be kept by the laws or ordinances of any State, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to do military service, and in States having no such law, one person as agent, owner or overseer, on each plantation of twenty negroes, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to military service; And furthermore, For additional police for every twenty negroes on two or more plantations, within five miles of each other, and each having less than twenty negroes, and of which there is no white male adult not liable to military duty, one person, being the oldest of the owners or overseers on such plantations;… are hereby exempted from military service in the armies of the Confederate States;… Provided, further, That the exemptions hereinabove enumerated and granted hereby, shall only continue whilst the persons exempted are actually engaged in their respective pursuits or occupations.

FROM James M. Matthews, Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, Passed at the Second Session of the First Congress (Richmond: R. M. Smith, 1862), pp. 77-79.

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