Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Norrece T. Jones Ph.D.


Unlawful assembly accounts extracted from the Fredericksburg Mayor’s Court Order Books from 1821-1834, reveal rare glimpses of unsupervised, alleged illegal interactions between free and enslaved individuals, many of whom do not appear in other records. Authorities enforced laws banning free blacks and persons of mixed race from interacting with enslaved persons and whites at unlawful assemblies to keep peace in the town, to prevent sexual relationships between white women and free and enslaved black men, and to prevent alliance building between individuals. The complex connections necessary to arrange unlawful assemblies threatened the town’s safety with insurrection if these individuals developed radical ideas opposing the existing social order, the foundation of which was slavery. Akin to residents of areas where natural disasters like volcanoes always pose a risk of dangerous eruptions, those living in Fredericksburg lived their lives within the town slave society and its potential threats. In an area, state, and region where insurrections occurred, unlawful assembly, whether frequent or infrequent, mattered.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009

Included in

History Commons