William Pitman and Justice



It didn’t happen often in the antebellum South, but occasionally a white man was sentenced to death for murdering a slave.  The first man sentenced to death for murdering his own slave in colonial America was William Pitman.  Pitman had beaten to death a slave boy he owned, whose name, alas, is lost to history as far as I am able to determine.  The Virginia Gazette of Fredericksburg, Virginia reported on April 21, 1775 that, a jury finding him guilty, the General Court sentenced Pitman to death.  The paper editorialized that Pitman had incurred the just penalty of the law and that it hoped this would serve as a lesson to other masters to treat their slaves with moderation. (more…)

Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on William Pitman and Justice