This loose form of bondage bore almost no resemblance to the South's peculiar institution. By 1812, black slaves in the
southern U.S. were considered chattel -- the legal property of their owners, who exercised nearly complete control over them. Harsh codes controlled the slave's daily actions, outlawing basic rights like education and property ownership. Punishments for minor infractions included whipping, branding, ear cropping -- for major infractions, amputation and lynching.
Afro-American Almanac "Slave Codes".
Part 1, Early Years: l