Consideration of Slaves in French & English American Colonies

Topics: Slavery, Louis XIV of France, Slavery in the United States Pages: 3 (1069 words) Published: February 3, 2014


Consideration of Slaves in French & English American Colonies

Kyle Taylor

Ashford University

Consideration of Slaves in French & English American Colonies
As every middle-school student in the United States learns, the practice of slavery was a hugely important part of life in the European colonies of the Americas and pre-Civil War independent United States. Important enough, indeed, that without it, the colonies would likely not have endured for lack of labor and, therefore, economic viability. Naturally, such a significant institution was enshrined in written law, that it might be standardized and regulated. The French Code Noir, which was applied first in the French West Indies and later in Louisiana, the Virginia Slave Code of 1705, and the 1806 Black Code of Louisiana codified the conduct of slavery n the New World. Separated by time, location, culture, and the authority which constituted the, these documents share great differences in addition to their similarities.

The Code Noir (“Black Code”), in accordance with the French standard of governing colonies with strong control from the royal authority in the mother country, was decreed by King Louis XIV in 1685, recorded in Saint Domingue in 1687. In contrast, the 1705 Virginia Slave Code (which was itself a compendium of measures passed at various times previously) originated locally in the colony's representative House of Burgesses. While the Code Noir seems to take for granted the existence of slaves and assumes that a reader will know what defines a slave, the 1705 Code takes a step back, defining that (for the most part) “servants imported into this country...who were not christians in their native country...shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold” (Virginia Slave Code, 1705). One-hundred years later, the Black Code of Louisiana, like the Code Noir before it, would forego this...

References: Black Code of Louisiana. (1806). Retrieved from: http://www.accessible- archives.com/2011/08/the-black-code-of-louisiana-1806/
Code Noir (1685). King Louis XIV (France). On the subject of policy regarding the islands of French America. Retrieved from: http://vizedhtmlcontent.next.ecollege.com/pub/content/53a53e30-2301-4ccf-a1bc- 0b4bb3d36748/Code_Noir.pdf
Virginia Slave Codes (1705). An act concerning servants and slaves. Retrieved from: http://www.virtualjamestown.org/laws1.html
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