From housing runaway slaves to animal rights
As the oldest continuously occupied European colony in the country, St. Augustine has a long documented history.
With an elected municipal government dating back over 200 years, the laws or ordinances promulgated by that government provide an interesting, comical, and at times horrifying glimpse into everyday life centuries ago. From brutal treatment of slaves and free people of color to police swearing in the public eye to banning the sale of lizards, city ordinances show what was important to the people of the day.
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“People evolve and change,” said City Commissioner John Valdes in an interview with The Record. “Times change and an elected government reflects that change through the evolution of our laws. People will probably look 100 years from now at some of the ordinances we have passed today with the same astonishment as we look at those from there. 100 or 200 years.
“Our town lawyer [Isabelle Lopez] constantly revise the ordinances to do what she calls ‘dust and clean’ and bring them to us to make them more suited to the times we live in, ”Valdes said.
The following is a selection of unedited municipal ordinances from before the Civil War to the 1920s from the collection of the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library.
Punishment for harboring runaway slaves in 1824
Be it further ordered that if a white person conceals or lodges a runaway slave, that person thus guilty shall pay a fine of fifty dollars, half for the use of the slave owner, and the other half to the informant; and if a colored person shelters or hides a runaway slave, that person shall not be whipped with more than thirty-nine lashes; and if that colored person is free, he will also have to pay a fine of twenty-five dollars, half for the use of the slave owner and the other half for the whistleblower.
Saint-Augustin Speeding Ordinance of 1845
Any wagon, wagon, cart or driver of any other registered vehicle that will roll faster than a trot or a slow pace, and in turns, faster than a step, will be liable to a fine of the sum of five dollars, if a white person, or if it is a free person of color or a slave, he will be liable to a whip not exceeding twenty strokes, said penalty being commuted by the payment of a fine not exceeding not five dollars.
Ordinance banning residents of Palatka due to smallpox
While there is satisfactory evidence that smallpox has broken out in Palatka, it becomes necessary for the municipal council to adopt the means which may be in its power to prevent its introduction into this city. Therefore, that it be ordered by the mayor and the aldermen of the city of St. Augustine that from and after the adoption of the ordinance, any relationship between this city and Palatka be, and the same be prohibited and banned, and anyone coming from Palatka to that city in violation of this ordinance will be liable to a penalty not exceeding fifty dollars.
Adopted April 4, 1846. BA Putnam, Mayor
Saint Augustine announces a tax increase in 1848
Section 1- That it be ordered by the authority of the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Saint-Augustin – That the following taxes be levied, levied and paid in the said City for the year 1848, namely: Valid slave in addition fifteen years and less than fifty-five years, twelve hundred and a half. On every two-wheeled pleasure car, one dollar.
Permit required in 1848 for blacks having meetings at their homes
If a negro or a person of color holds any public meeting or meeting of any kind on their premises day or night without first obtaining a license from the mayor, he or she or they are committing an offense. , and they and anyone attending such a meeting shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine, imprisonment or lashing.
Ordinance of 1849 forbidding drinking in the streets, swearing
That it be ordered by the mayor and aldermen of the city of Saint-Augustin, that any person or persons guilty of having used abusive or provocative language towards any other person or of having used obscene language or immoral conduct , or to insult or swear, or to be drunk in the streets, or to make and make noise or disturb of any kind likely to disturb the peace and quiet of the public, or to have aided or encouraged, or to hold riot status within the city limits of St. Augustine, upon conviction before the Mayor or a St. Johns County justice of the peace, at the discretion of such mayor or justice of the peace, shall be sentenced to a fine for each offense listed herein, not exceeding five dollars and imprisoned for not more than five days.
The law of 1850 shows that all sentences were not equal
That it is hereby ordered by the mayor and the aldermen of the city of Saint-Augustin meeting in council that from and after the promulgation of this ordinance, it will not be lawful to throw away vegetable waste or materials animals of any nature whatsoever over the dike, or in the basin connected to said wall and any person contravening this prohibition will, in the case of a white person, be fined for the first offense of ” a sum of at least two, not more than five dollars and for each subsequent violation of at least five dollars, not more than ten dollars and if the offender is a person of color, he or she violates such a fine, or at the discretion of the mayor, punished by inflicting a certain number of blows on the bare back of at least ten, no more than twenty for the first offense and for each subsequent offense of at least twenty, no more of thirty-one.
After the civil war
An 1877 law forbids littering over the dike
It is forbidden for any person or persons to throw over the dike or in the basins behind the dike, any dead animal, fish, rubbish, grime, offal, shavings, briquettes or material of any kind whatsoever. . .
He is still against the city order to throw dead animals over the dike, but the rule now allows “usual fishing activity.”
City bans showing price fights in 1910
The display, projection or display of moving images of a prize fight or prize fight is hereby declared illegal.
Juggling? Not in 1924 Saint Augustine
Rascals and vagrants, idle or debauched people who beg, ordinary gamblers, persons who juggle or play illegal games or games, ordinary pipers and fiddlers, ordinary drunkards, ordinary night owls, thieves, thieves, dealers in stolen goods, obscene, blind and lascivious people, gamekeepers, mockers and brawlers, people who neglect their calling or job, or are without reasonable and continuous employment or regular income and do not have enough assets to support them , and badly spent what they earn without providing for themselves or their families, people wandering or wandering from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual slackers, idle and disorderly people, people neglecting any lawful activity and usually spending their time frequenting houses of bad repute, gambling houses or drink vendors, personal es able to work but usually living on the income of their wives or their minor children, and all able-bodied persons will be considered as vagrants men over eighteen years of age who are without resources and remain in idleness.
Anyone found guilty of being a vagrant will be punished with a fine of up to $ 200 or imprisonment for up to 60 days in prison.
Saint-Augustin parking ordinance in 1924
The following locations are designated as non-parking locations, on both sides of St. George Street, between Cathedral Street and King Street, No parking on the west side of Cordova Street, from Orange Street to the south line of the cemetery Catholic. No vehicle should be parked within 15 feet of a street corner, nor above or in front of pedestrian crossings. No parking on the north side of Cuna Street. No parking on the south side of Hypolita Street. No parking on Treasury Street between Spanish and St. George Street.
Saint Augustine banned the sale of lizards in 1924
Any person or persons possessing, possessing, keeping or sheltering a female dog must keep this female dog off public streets during the breeding season or in heat, and those persons possessing, possessing, keeping or harboring a female dog failing or neglecting to keep this female dog out public streets in the city shall be liable to a fine, upon conviction, therefore, of not more than ten dollars or being imprisoned in the city jail for not more than five days.
Anyone who must kill inhumanly and cruelly, principal, mutilate, disfigure, overwork, overwork, overload, overload, life, lower, injure, torture, torment, beat, bruise, whip, confine, stick, give up, neglect or injure, directly or indirectly, any living creature within the city limits of St. Augustine will be punished with imprisonment in the city or county jail for not more than one month, or a fine not exceeding $ 50 or so. of them.
Protection of birds and squirrels
No person or person shall be permitted to shoot, trap or kill songbirds, or feathered birds, or steal or molest songbird eggs or nests or molest and squirrels, within the city limits, under a fine of not more than $ 5 of 5 days in prison.
No one will be allowed to capture, trap, kill, confine, buy, sell or offer for sale chameleons or lizards within city limits.
Forget the pub crawls
Anyone guilty of intoxication by the willful use of intoxicating drinks will be punished with a fine not exceeding $ 100 or imprisonment for up to sixty days.
Driving while intoxicated
It is forbidden for any person, in a state of intoxication or under the influence of intoxicating drinks, to drive, to operate or to have driven on or over public roads a vehicle. The fine will not exceed $ 250 imprisonment not to exceed 60 days.
No strolling in the billiard room
Women or minors loitering or loitering in or near a billiard hall are considered disordered persons.