Black Codes History


Black Codes - from

To gain a greater perspective on the day to day conditions that surrounded our ancestors, one must understand the law during that time frame and the implications that accompanied Blacks who violated these legally oppressive mechanisms. Caddo & Bossier parishes appeared to be very concerned with upholding white supremacy after Emancipation Proclamation and with efforts spearheaded by the local sheriff's offices and Klansman, enforced every tactic necessary to inflict intimidation and hardship to many who appeared of African and Native American ancestry. Listed below are snippets of how Jim Crow impacted the lives of our ancestors from the 1870's through the mid 1960's. Also listed are the Louisiana Black Codes of 1865 & the French interpretation of Black laws during their domination before the Louisiana Purchase.
Jim Crowism

  • A Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a White male because it implied being socially equal. Obviously, a Black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a White woman, because he risked being accused of rape.
  • Blacks and Whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, Whites were to be served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.
  • Under no circumstance was a Black male to offer to light the cigarette of a White female -- that gesture implied intimacy.
  • Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended Whites.
  • Jim Crow etiquette prescribed that Blacks were introduced to Whites, never Whites to Blacks. For example: "Mr. Peters (the White person), this is Charlie (the Black person), that I spoke to you about."
  • Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to Blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma'am. Instead, Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to Whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.
  • If a Black person rode in a car driven by a White person, the Black person sat in the back seat, or the back of a truck.
  • White motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.
  • Blacks were denied the right to vote by grandfather clauses (laws that restricted the right to vote to people whose ancestors had voted before the Civil War), poll taxes (fees charged to poor Blacks), white primaries (only Democrats could vote, only Whites could be Democrats), and literacy tests ("Name all the Vice Presidents and Supreme Court Justices throughout America's history").

General rules when conversing with Whites:

  1. Never assert or even intimate that a White person is lying.
  2. Never impute dishonorable intentions to a White person.
  3. Never suggest that a White person is from an inferior class.
  4. Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
  5. Never curse a White person.
  6. Never laugh derisively at a White person.
  7. Never comment upon the appearance of a White female.


Louisiana Black Codes of 1865
Relative to apprentices and indentured servants.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana, in General Assembly convened, That it shall be the duty of Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace and other civil officers of this State, to report to the Clerks of the District Courts of their respective Parishes, and in the Parish of Orleans (left bank) to the Mayor of the City of New Orleans, and on the right bank to the President of the Police Jury, on the first Monday of each month, for each and every year, all persons under the age of eighteen years, if females, and twenty-one, if males, who are orphans, or whose parent, parents, or tutor, have not the means, or who refuse to provide for and maintain said minors; and, thereupon, it shall be the duty of the Clerks of the District Courts, Mayor and President of the Police Jury aforesaid, to examine whether the party or parties, so reported from time to time, come within the purview and meaning of this Act, and if so, to apprentice said minor or minors, in manner and form as prescribed by the Civil Code of the State of Louisiana; provided, that orphans coming under the provisions of this Act shall be authorized to select said employers when they have arrived at the age of puberty, unless they shall have been previously apprenticed; provided, that any indenture of apprentice or indented servant, made before a Justice of the Peace and two disinterested witnesses, and the original deposited with and recorded by the Recorder of Mortgages for the Parish, in a book provided for that purpose, shall be valid and binding on the parties, and when made by the clerk, shall be also deposited with the Recorder of Mortgages, and all expenses for passing said acts of indenture shall be paid by the employer.
Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, &c., That persons who have attained the age of majority, whether in this State or any other State of the United States, or in a foreign country, may bind themselves to services to be performed in this country, for the term of five years, on such terms as they may stipulate, as domestic servants and to work on farms, plantations or in manufacturing establishments, which contracts shall be valid and binding on the parties to the same.
Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, &c., That in all cases, when the age of the minor cannot be ascertained by record testimony, the Clerks of the District Courts, Mayor and President of the Police Jury, or Justices of the Peace aforesaid, shall fix the age, according to the best evidence before them.
Sec. 4. Be it further enacted, &c., That all laws or parts of laws conflicting with the provisions of this Act, be, and the same are hereby repealed, and that this Act take effect from and after its passage.

DUNCAN S. CAGE, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
ALBERT VOORHIES, Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate.
Approved December 21, 1865.
Governor of the State of Louisiana  

Le Code Noir - French for "Black Codes" in effect from 1685-1789

Louis, by the Grace of God, King of France and of Navarre, to all present and to come, greeting. The Directors of the Company of the Indies having represented to us that the Province and colony of Louisiana is considerably established, by a large number of our subjects, who use slaves for the cultivation of the lands. We have Judged that it behooves our authority and our Justice, for the preservation of this colony, to establish there a law, and certain rules, to maintain there the discipline of the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church, and to order about what concerns the state
and condition of the slaves in the said Islands, and desiring to provide for this, and to make known to our subjects who inhabit there and who
shall settle there in the future, that although they inhabit climes infinitely remote, We are always present, by the extent of our power and by our application to succor them. Actuated by these causes and others, by the advice of our Council, and by our certain knowledge, full power and Royal authority, We have said, decreed, and ordered, We say, decree, and order, wish and it pleases us, the following.

  • ARTICLE I orders that the edict of 1615 be applied to Louisiana, and that all Jews who may have established their religion there be expelled
    within three months, under penalty of confiscation of body and property.
  • ARTICLE II orders that all slaves in the province be instructed and baptized in the Catholic religion.
  • ARTICLE III forbids the exercise of any other religion than the Catholic.
  • ARTICLE IV forbids the employment of any overseer who shall not be a Catholic, under penalty of confiscation of the negroes and punishment
    of the overseer
  • ARTICLE V Orders Sundays and holidays to be regularly observed, andforbids all work by master or slaves, under penalty of confiscation of
    slaves and punishment of masters. The slaves, however, may be sent marketing.
  • ARTICLE VI forbids marriage of whites with slaves, and concubi-nage of whites and manumitted or free-born blacks with slaves, and imposes penalties.
  • ARTICLE VII orders to be observed, for marriages of free persons as well as of slaves, the solemnities of the ordinance of Blois and of the
    edict of 1639. The consent of the parents of the slave is not necessary, but only that of the master.
  • ARTICLE VIII forbids curates to celebrate marriages of slaves without consent of the masters, and forbids masters to force their slaves to marry against their will.
  • ARTICLE IX enacts that children born from the marriages of slaves shall belong to the master of the mother.
  • ARTICLE X enacts that if the husband be a slave and the wife a free woman, the children shall be free like their mother. If the husband be free and the wife a slave, the children shall be slaves.
  • ARTICLE XI orders that master shall have baptized slaves buried in consecrated ground; those who die without being baptized to be buried
    at night in a neighboring field.
  • ARTICLE XII forbids slaves to carry offensive Weapons or heavy sticks, under penalty of the whip and confiscation of the weapons in favor of the person seizing them. Slaves that are sent hunting by their masters, and carry notes or known marks, are excepted.
  • ARTICLE XIII forbids slaves belonging to different masters to assemble in crowds, by day or by night, under pretext of weddings or other causes, either at one of their masters or elsewhere, and still less on the highways or secluded places, under penalty of corporal punishment, which shall not be less than the whip and the fleur-de-lys; and in case of repetition of the offense and other aggravating circumstances, capital punishment may be applied, at the discretion of the Judges. It also commands all subjects of the King, whether officers or not, to seize and arrest the offenders and conduct them to prison, although
    there be no Judgment against them....
  • ARTICLE XVII orders seizure of goods that are offered for sale by slaves without permission or mark.
  • ARTICLE XVIII orders officers of the Superior Council to give their advice about the provisions and the food to he furnished the slaves. It also forbids masters to give any kind of brandy in lieu of food and clothing.
  • ARTICLE XIX forbids masters to abstain from feeding and clothing their slaves, by permitting them to work for their own account on a certain day of the week.
  • ARTICLE XX authorizes slaves to give information against them masters, if not properly fed or clad, or if treated inhumanly.
  • ARTICLE XXI orders slaves disabled from working by old age, sickness, or otherwise, to be provided for by their masters, otherwise they shall be
    sent to the nearest hospital, to which the masters shall pay eight cents a day for each slave, and the hospital shall have a lien on the plantations of the masters.
  • ARTICLE XXII declares that slaves can have nothing that does not belong to their masters, in whatever way acquired.
  • ARTICLE XXIIII orders that masters be held responsible for what their slaves have done by their command.
  • ARTICLE XXIV forbids slaves from exercising public functions, from serving as arbitrators or experts, from giving testimony except in default of white people, and from ever serving as witnesses for or against their masters.
  • ARTICLE XXV forbids slaves from being parties to civil suits or complainants in criminal cases. Their masters shall act for them in civil cases and demand reparation or punishment for outrages and excesses committed against them.
  • ARTICLE XXVI orders prosecution of slaves in criminal cases in the same manner as for free persons, with exceptions hereafter mentioned.
  • ARTICLE XXVII Any slave who shall have struck his master, his mistress, or the husband of his mistress, or their children, so as to produce a bruise or shedding of blood in the face, shall be put to death.
  • ARTICLE XXVIII Outrages or acts of violence against free persons committed by slaves shall be punished with severity, and even with death if the case require it