Why Were Slave Anti-Literacy Laws Passed in the Slave South?

Six Reasons

5/7/20231 min read

The anti-literacy laws of the Southern slave states were passed for six main reasons:

  • The fear of the rising voices of the Northern abolitionists

  • The fear of slave rebellion (like Nat Turner’s Virginia rebellion in 1831)

  • The passage of the British Slavery Abolition Act 1833, beginning the freeing of slaves in the Caribbean

  • The need to control the dramatically expanding workforce, especially on the large plantations for cotton and sugar

  • The need to prevent slaves from forging passes or manumission papers

  • The need to prevent slaves from communicating with one another or with free blacks about escape, rebellion, mistreatment, or abolition