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I need some help finding a Colonial-era Virginia law related to slave’s ability to testify in a court of law.


I need some help finding a Colonial-era Virginia law related to slave’s ability to testify in a court of law.

Yes, this is really specific.

I am currently in the process of a mock trial in which I am defending Thomas Jefferson regarding whether or not he upheld the ideals he set forth in the Declaration of Independence. I’m making an attempt to find colonial laws for the state/province of Virginia specifically related to a slave’s ability (or lack of) to testify in court. I don’t know if this is outside the bounds for you guys but I figured it was worth a shot because I cannot seem to find any primary resource that has the information I’m looking for.

My (really scummy) intention was to use said law to invalidate the testimony of (fake) Sally Hemmings on the basis that she cannot testify in court because she is a slave. I found a Maryland state law that explicitly prevents this, and I was considering using the Dred Scott v. Sanford SCOTUS decision as a last resort if necessary. However, I really don’t want to try to use any laws or decisions made after roughly 1800 because I’m worried that if I use Dred Scott v. Sanford, the prosecution team will justify Hemmings’ testimony by quoting the Thirteenth amendment.

Therefore, my game plan is to use a law or decision made before Thomas Jefferson died so that I can justify eliminating Sally Hemmings from the prosecution’s witness list without having to deal with the ramifications of the Thirteenth amendment.

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