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Louisiana’s Code Noir (1724) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed

15 Dec

Listed are excerpts from the Louisiana’s Code Noir (Black Code/Slave code) 1774:

II. Permits the exercise of the Roman Catholic creed only. Every other mode of worship is prohibited.

My ancestors were only to practice Catholicism. 

IV. Negroes placed under the direction or supervision of any other person than a Catholic, are liable to confiscation.

You converted to Catholicism if you wanted to keep your Negroes without the fear, that they will be confiscated by the government.

V. Sundays and holidays are to be strictly observed. All Negroes found at work on these days are to be confiscated.   

Negroes did not work on Sunday nor holiday

VI. We forbid our white subjects, of both sexes, to marry with the blacks, under the penalty of being fined and subjected to some other arbitrary punishment. We forbid all curates, priests, or missionaries of our secular or regular clergy, and even our chaplains in our navy to sanction such marriages. We also forbid all our white subjects, and even the manumitted or free-born blacks, to live in a state of concubinage with blacks. Should there be any issue from this kind of intercourse, it is our will that the person so offending, and the master of the slave, should pay each a fine of three hundred livres. Should said issue be the result of the concubinage of the master with his slave, said master shall not only pay the fine, but be deprived of the slave and of the children, who shall be adjudged to the hospital of the locality, and said slaves shall be forever incapable of being set free. But should this illicit intercourse have existed between a free black and his slave, when said free black had no legitimate wife, and should said black marry said slave according to the forms prescribed by the church, said slave shall be thereby set free, and the children shall also become free and legitimate ; and in such a case, there shall be no application of the penalties mentioned in the present article.

Marriage is not allowed between white folks and black folks. Whites, manumitted or free-born blacks cannot shack up/have sex with slaves. Now if they did not listen to this law and had a baby, the slave master has to pay 300 livres (France currency) Now if the master was the parent of the child, the master paid the fine and the slave mother and child would be removed from the master and lost any rights of being free. But if a free black man is the parent of his slave’s child and he is not married, he will married the slave woman. She and her child will become free.

VIII. We forbid all curates to proceed to effect marriages between slaves without proof of the consent of their masters; and we also forbid all masters to force their slaves into any marriage against their will.   

Priests are forbidden to married slaves without their masters permission. 

IX. Children, issued from the marriage of slaves, shall follow the condition of their parents, and shall belong to the master of the wife and not of the husband, if the husband and wife have different masters.

Slave marriages can occurred between two slaves of different masters, their children would belong to the wife’s slave master. 

X. If the husband be a slave, and the wife a free woman, it is our will that their children, of whatever sex they may be, shall share the condition of their mother, and be as free as she, notwithstanding the servitude of their father; and if the father be free and the mother a slave, the children shall all be slaves.

If a child is free or slave depends whether the mother is free or slave. Father’s status does not matter.

XV. We forbid Negroes to sell any commodities, provisions, or produce of any kind, without the written permission of their masters, or without wearing their known marks or badges, and any persons purchasing any thing from Negroes in violence of this article, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of 1500 livres.

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LIII. We command all manumitted slaves to show the pro foundest respect to their former masters, to their widows and children, and any injury or insult offered by said manumitted slaves to their former masters, their widows or children- shall be punished with more severity than if it had been offered to any other person. We, however, declare them exempt from the discharge Of all duties or services, and from the payment of all taxes or fees, or any thing else which their former masters might, in their quality of patrons, claim either in relation to their persons, or to their personal or real estate, either during the life or after the death of said manumitted slaves.

Once a slave is free, he better not act like a fool and show disrespect to the ex-master, his wife and children or he will be punished more severe than he could ever imagined.

LIV. We grant to manumitted slaves the same rights, privileges, and immunities which are enjoyed by free-born persons. It is our pleasure that their merit in having acquired their freedom, shall produce in their favor, not only with regard to their persons, but also to their property, the same effects which our other subjects derive from the happy circumstance of their having been born free.
In the name of the King,
Bienville, De la Chaise.

I have not found a direct line ancestor that was manumitted in Louisiana.

Photo courtesy of http://www.ebay.com/itm/STAR-PLANTATION-STRAW-BOSS-SLAVE-TAG-LOUISIANA-/161100461052

 

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