Code Noir, or “Edict Regarding The Government and Administration of the French Islands of America, And the Discipline

and Commerce of Slaves in the Said Countries” was a slave code written by Minister JeanBaptiste Colbert (Dayan, 1998). King Louis XIV decreed Code Noir in March 1685, and it saw use for the duration of the French colonial states, including Louisiana. (Blackburn, 1998) (Dayan, 1998). At the time, small groups of French colonists had already been on the island for a few decades (Friedman, 1999). Tobacco, then sugar plantations were steadily growing and were the final destinations for thousands of slave expeditions ordered by the French throughout the 17th century (Friedman, 1999). In many cases, Code noir would be interpreted to places slaves outside the realm of law, with few ways for slaves to seek legal refuge from abuse by their masters (Blackburn, 1998). The French colonies would soon develop a loose hierarchy of social status based on the class distinctions and economic distinctions of France. White slave-owning plantation owners, as well as government officials representing the French crown were known as grand blancs, and had absolute control over the workings of the Saint Dominigue (Fick,1990). Petit blancs were the name given to middle and lower class whites, who found jobs as small business owners and tradesmen who were often at odds with the grand blancs over economic issues (Fick,1990). Freed blacks were known as affranchis, and were considered inferior by white colonists rich and poor. In time, however, the affranchis invested attained large sums of money through investment and would come to form a large minority of property owners in the mid18th century who were nonetheless denied political representation (Fick,1990). In time, the increased affluence of a minority of affranchis would be seen as a threat to slavery. Men were required to matriculate in the military, but denied the opportunity to practiced privileged trades (Fick,1990). Affranchis were expected to catch runaway slaves and were often enlisted by the French government to do so(Fick,1990). The sugar trade required large amounts of slaves with many diverse skills. (Fick,1990). By the mid 18th century, Saint Dominique, (the French half of Hispanola that would eventually become Haiti) would become the most prosperous and economically active of the French colonies, and considerably richer than any of the other European colonies. Over time, the economic value of slave labor to Saint Dominigue, and by proxy continental France, came to be enormous. The centrality of Code Noir to French commerce in the late 17th and 18th centuries cannot be understated. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of a highly efficient agrarian economy based on slave labor was the high death rate among those African slaves.

21. which had already resulted in numerous expulsions of Jewish people from continental France (Friedman. History. 1825 VOL. 1492-1800 Robin Blackburn Verso.201 Haiti. 1999). The making of Haïti: the Saint Domingue revolution from below Carolyn E. 1999). NO. 75-83. 290-297 The making of New World slavery: from the Baroque to the modern. 1998 Pg. Pg. 1998 Pg.15-19. The legal enforcement of Roman Catholic dogma had strong consequences for the regulation of marriage and other matters relating to sexuality. VI. and all children born from such marriages to be bastards (Friedman. Code Noir declared all non-Catholic marriages to be null and void. but their marriages were not respected and the public practice of their religion was suppressed (Friedman. Code Noir reflected growing Anti-semitism in France during the 17th century. Code Noir. 1999). which explicitly banned the practice of any religion other than Roman Catholicism. Fick Univ. and the Gods By Joan Dayan University of California Press. 1999). 1999 Pg. Protestant Christians were still tolerated. of Tennessee Press. 10 . 1990 AMERICAN MISSIONARY REGISTER: OCTOBER. prohibited from conducting their own religious services (even when African slaves were allowed to) and in the later years. Jewish people in French colonies were prohibited from insulting Christians. had been preceded by many other instances of religious discrimation against the Jews. one of the more prevalent themes throughout the legal code was the banishment of Jewish people from the colonies.Aside from the regulation of slave conduct. Friedman Transaction Publishers. Jews and the American Slave Trade Saul S. forced to wear special markings on their clothing (Friedman.

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