These documents include registration documents for William Jasper, his wife Sarah, and his daughters Susan and Eliza, from 1853 and 1858. Especially after Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 1831, Virginia's free blacks faced copious laws restraining their actions. They could not own guns, obtain a formal education or vote. Laws restricted their movement, business transactions, and social relationships. Thus, though free, the increasing number of black people in northern Virginia lived in a world of persecution, suspicion and danger.
Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York: Free press, 1974); William W. Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, 13 vols. (Richmond: Samuel Pleasants, 1819-23); June Guild, ed., Black Laws of Virginia: A Summary of the Legislative Acts of Virginia Concerning Negroes from the Earliest Times to the Present (Richmond: Whittet and Sepperson, 1936; New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969); and Donald M. Sweig, "Northern Virginia Slavery: A Statistical and Demographic Investigation" (Ph.D. diss., College of William and Mary, 1982).