This chapter examines the legal regime created by the Maryland legislature to force free African Americans into wage dependence and how it was used by Eastern Shore planters to their advantage. It considers the unrelated criminal and civil laws, collectively known as the Black Codes, introduced by Maryland to define the legal status of free African Americans while reinforcing the racial hierarchy. It shows that the Maryland government legislated dependence by denying African Americans the right to pursue economic self-sufficiency. It also discusses the laws on vagrancy and apprenticeships used by the local government as a legal tool to extract labor from free African Americans and ensure their subordination to white masters. Finally, it explores how free African Americans secured the services of the local government to protect their own investments on the Eastern Shore.
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