Monday, November 22, 2010
Control Through Laws
The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified in 1865 formally abolishing slavery through out the Untied States and her territories. Southern states began to look for a way to restore the control and economic power over African Americans that, that amendment had denied them. For some Southern’s vigilantism was the way they regained that control, for others it was through laws. Mississippi passed the first of these laws, known as Black Codes on November 22nd 1865. It directed that minor orphaned “freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes” be hired by civil officers, and then they were forbidden to leave their place of employment, and could be subjected to “moderate corporal chastisement”. There was a law requiring African Americans to carry evidence in writing of their employment. Mississippi’s legislature established special county courts to punish those who broke these laws. Other Southern state followed Mississippi’s lead, and created similar laws.
The United State Congress responded to these Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The States ratified the Fourteenth Amendment two years latter guarantee “equal protection of the laws” to all people.