In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: The Holy Land of Matrimony: Roots vividly illuminated the African experience in America and unveiled a distinct narrative that drifted away from the traditional Anglo-American histories.
Background[ edit ] Vagrancy laws date back to the end of feudalism in Europe. Introduced by aristocratic and landowning classes, they had the dual purpose of restricting access of "undesirable" classes to public spaces and of ensuring a labor pool.
Serfs were not emancipated from their land. Chattel slaves basically lived under the complete control of their owners; free blacks presented a challenge to the boundaries of White-dominated society.
North Carolina restricted slaves from leaving their plantation; if one tried to court date a woman on another property, he risked severe punishments at the hands of the patrollers or needed a pass in order to pursue this relationship.
This sharply reduced the incidence of planters freeing slaves. After the Louisiana Purchasethe state of Louisiana based its state laws on the French colonial Code Noir issued in Free whites could no longer marry a slave and thereby emancipate her and her children, and no freed person was capable of receiving a donation from a white person, whether by act inter vivos or mortis causa.
Territories and states near the slave states did not welcome free blacks to settle with them. But north of the Mason—Dixon lineanti-Black laws were generally less severe.
Some public spaces were segregated, and Blacks generally did not have the right to vote. The southern populations of these states had generally migrated from the Upper South and shared cultures more akin to those of the South across the Ohio River than with the northern populations, who had migrated from New England and New York and were part of Yankee culture.
In some states these codes included vagrancy laws that targeted unemployed blacks, apprentice laws that made black orphans and dependents available for hire to whites, and commercial laws that excluded blacks from certain trades and businesses and restricted their ownership of property.
Black women were not allowed to testify against White men with whom they had children, giving them a status similar to wives. Two snakes full of pisen. One lying wid his head pintin' north, de other wid his head pintin' south.
Dere names wus slavery an' freedom. De snake called slavery lay wid his head pinted south and de snake called freedom lay wid his head pinted north. Both bit de nigger, an' dey wus both bad.
Banks in Louisiana initiated a system of wage labor in February in Louisiana; General Lorenzo Thomas implemented a similar system in Mississippi. The worker would have to agree to an unbreakable one-year contract.
Wendell Phillips said that Lincoln's proclamation had "free[d] the slave, but ignore[d] the Negro", calling the Banks-Thomas year-long contracts tantamount to serfdom. The Worcester Spy described the government's answer to slavery as "something worse than failure.
Postwar years[ edit ] As the war ended, the US Army implemented Black Codes to regulate the behavior of black people in general society. Although the Freedmen's Bureau had a mandate to protect blacks from a hostile Southern environment, it also sought to keep blacks in their place as laborers in order to allow production on the plantations to resume so that the South could revive its economy.
Although blacks did not all abruptly stop working, they did try to work less. In particular, many sought to reduce their Saturday work hours, and women wanted to spend more time on child care.
Indeed, freedpeople certainly did not want to work the long hours that had been forced upon them for their whole lives.
The enslaved also strove to create a semi-autonomous social world, removed from the plantation and the gaze of the slave owner. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia all included language in their new state constitutions which instructed the legislature to "guard them and the State against any evils that may arise from their sudden emancipation".
States criminalized men who were out of work, or who were not working at a job whites recognized. Of these, eight allowed convict leasing a system in which state prison hired out convicts for labor and five allowed prisoner labor for public works projects.
The planters or other supervisors were responsible for their board and food, and black convicts were kept in miserable conditions. As Douglas Blackmon wrote, it was "slavery by another name". Another important part of the Codes were the annual labor contracts, which documents Black people had to keep and be able to present to authorities to avoid vagrancy charges.
Previously, Blacks had been part of the domestic economy on a plantation, and were more or less able to use supplies that were available. After emancipation, the same act performed by someone working the same land might be labeled as theft, leading to arrest and involuntary labor.
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