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Reading The Bible, A Crime

Reading The Bible, A Crime image
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We find in the Boston Chronotype he following indictment, taken from a Virginia paper: Wood County to wit: - The Grand Jurors empannelled and sworn to enquire of offences committed in the body of said county, on their oath present: That Martha Christian, late of said county, being an evil disposed person, on the 4th day of July, in the blessed year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and forty-seven, at Righteous Ridge, in said county, not having the fear of God before her eyes, but moved and instigatad by the Devil, wickedly, maliciously and feloniously, did teach a black and negro woman, named Rebecca, alias Black Beck, to read in the Bible, to the great displeasure of Almighty God, to the pernicious example of others in like case offending, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Chronotype contains a report of the trial, which ended in the conviction of said Martha Christian, at the August term of the Common Pleas, in Wood County Virginia. When the defendant was brought into Court for sentence, the Judge who is described as a humane magistrate, dwelt long upon the great favor which had been extended to Martha on the trial, considering the enormity of the offence! and in the overflow of his mercy, and in obedience to the mandates of civilized law, his conscience would not allow him to give her more than ten years in the penitentiary, and that she be taxed the cost! The prisoner's counsel took an appeal from the sentence of the Court, and the parties await the decision of the appellate tribunal. We have no desire to say harsh words of our brethren of the South - they are sovereign over matters of State authority, and can make such laws as they deem necessary to promote their own safety and happiness. But can there be any necessity for laws so unchristian and severe? Is it possible that there is any spot on American soil, where it is necessary, in order to satisfy the demands of slavery, or to preserve a system of social order and happiness, it is expedient to inflict so severe a punishment for imparting to an ignorant slave a knowledge of the word of God who made her? What opinion will the generation who live a century in the future form of this indictment? What a thing this human slavery is! [New York Globe.]