Black Codes Facts

Black Codes Facts
Black Codes refer to the laws enacted by several southern state legislatures in the two years immediately after the American Civil War, 1865 and 1866, which severely restricted the rights of newly freed slaves, known as freedmen. The origins of the Black Codes can be seen in the "slave codes" laws that dominated all of the American colonies before the American Revolution and the states that kept the institution of slavery after and through the Civil War. Some examples of slave code laws that latter became part of the Black Codes were restrictions on where blacks could live, restrictions on blacks' ability to own and carry arms, and voting restrictions on black men. The Reconstruction Era forcibly ended the Black Codes, but a new form of them were revived in many states through legal segregation, which the landmark case, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) essentially made legal.
Interesting Black Codes Facts:
Although the creation of the Black Codes was primarily centered on keeping white political and social power in the south, there were economic considerations as well: many Black Codes made vagrancy illegal and forced many blacks into working for their former slave masters.
Mississippi was the first state to pass Black Codes when its legislature passed "An Act to Confer Civil Rights on Freedmen." Despite the name, it was extremely harsh and practically made it impossible for blacks to own land in the country and to be independent farmers.
Men were often cited for petty violations of the Black Codes, such as loitering, and forced into servitude that was not much different than slavery.
Public opinion in the north was strongly against the Black Codes because they were often viewed as a continuation of slavery.
Many members of the southern planter class who lost their slaves after the Civil War believed that the Black Codes would be a process whereby slavery would gradually be brought back to the south.
In addition to voting, land owning, and firearms restrictions, the Black Codes in some states even restricted blacks from purchasing and consuming alcohol.
The concept of "convict leasing" played a big role in the Black Codes, as it allowed police and sheriff's departments to arrest black men for vagrancy and then for the jails to "lease" their labor to local planters.
Black Codes were often successfully challenged in court as violations of the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which outlaws involuntary servitude other than for a crime.
The Republican dominated Congress responded to the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment, ushering in the period known as Reconstruction.
When Reconstruction was over in 1877, the Black Codes were never revived in the south, but were replaced by the "Jim Crow" laws that persisted in the Deep South until the 1960s.
The nineteenth century American Black Codes and later Jim Crow laws were an inspiration for many of the Apartheid era laws in South Africa.


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