Code Noir

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CODE NOIR, also known as Black Code, is the name commonly applied to the Edict Concerning the Negro Slaves in Louisiana, issued by Louis XV in March 1724, and promulgated in the colony by the colonial governor, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, on 10 September 1724. A number of slaves had been brought to the colony during the administrations of Antoine Crozat and John Law, and a definition of their legal status had become desirable. The Code Noir, consisting of fifty-four articles, fixed the legal status of slaves and imposed certain specific obligations and prohibitions upon their masters. It prescribed in detail regulations concerning holidays, marriage, religious instruction, burial, clothing and subsistence, punishment, and manumission of slaves. It also defined the legal position and proper conduct of freed or free blacks in the colony. Article I of the code, rather curiously, decreed expulsion of Jews from the colony. Article III prohibited the exercise of any religious creed other than Roman Catholicism and Article IV decreed confiscation of slaves placed under the direction or supervision of any person not a Catholic. The essential provisions of the code remained in force in Louisiana until 1803, and many of them were embodied in later American Black Codes. By the late antebellum period "black codes" governed slave life throughout the southern states. Although the codes varied somewhat from state to state, all granted wide powers to slave owners. The black codes ceased functioning only with the abolition of slavery in 1865.


Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Wilson, Theodore B. The Black Codes of the South. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1965.

WalterPrichard/a. g.

See alsoBlack Laws ; Code Napoléon ; Colonial Assemblies ; Mason-Dixon Line .