The recent arrival of negroes in this country has led our people to consider the effect of allowing the laws of this state to be violated with impunity, and our towns overrun with a viscious set of lazy vagabonds.
The Chicago Times, of Sunday morning contains the following letter, in regard to this matter:
ROCK ISLAND, March 20.
To the Editor of the Chicago Times:
Is there no way of stopping the rapid introduction into this state of escaped negroes? If something is not done, and that soon, I fear the evil will become a serious one.
About a month ago our circuit clerk, a surgeon in the 27th Illinois volunteers, but still retaining his clerkship, set home to his family a negro woman to do the housework. His neighbors were very much incensed at such conduct on the part of one sworn to observe the laws; and only a day or two since three of our blackest republicans returned from Rolla, Mo., with a drove of secesh horses and three negro men — one apiece. These escaped slaves have all been set at work, thus depriving at least as many white men of an opportunity of earning bread for their families. How republicans, after electing a president by maintaining that democracy as applied to the territories would bring the white laborer on an equality with the slave, can bring negroes to this state and set them to work is more than I can see into or reconcile with honesty. It may be very pleasant for a republican to steal negroes and bring them here and set them at work; but I, sir, never want to see a free negro, and no description of negro, in Illinois.
Respectfully, A DOUGLAS MAN.
We have been requested to state the substance of the law of this state, in regard to negro immigration. The law in reference to the matter can be found on page 824 of the Statues of Illinois, and was passed in 1853. It is entitled "An act to prevent the immigration of Free Negroes into this State." — The first section is as follows:
SECTION 1. That if any person or persons shall bring, or cause to be brought, into this state, any negro or mulatto slave, whether said slave is set free or not, shall be liable to an indictment, and upon conviction thereof, be fined for every such negro or mulatto, a sum not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars, and imprisoned in the county jail, not more than one year, and shall stand committed until said fine and costs are paid.
SEC. 3, 4 and 5 provide that if any negro or mulatto shall voluntarily come into this state, such person shall be fined fifty dollars, to be recovered in the name of the people, before any justice of the peace, and the negro be committed to the custody of the sheriff of the county, and his services sold to pay the fine. If, after the fine is paid, said negro or mulatto does not leave the state, the fine shall be one hundred dollars, and so on, increasing fifty dollars each time, until the person leaves the state.
SEC. 7 provides that the person complaining shall be entitled to one half the fine, and the other half goes into the county treasury, to be kept as a charity fund, and disbursed on the order of the county court.
SEC. 9 provides that any justice of the peace who shall refuse to act in the premises shall be punished for nonfeasance in office.
The above are the principal points in the law of this state, now in force.
We hear that complaints will be made against persons who violate the laws of this state by bringing negroes into the state, and that the negroes will be complained of, if they do not leave.