After the Reconstruction
WERE THE BLACK CODES ANOTHER FORM OF SLAVERY?
Yes. The black codes were a clear depiction of how far the Southerners were willing to go so as to circumvent the gains of the civil war, the Emancipation Proclamation, and specifically the thirteenth amendment within a year of its introduction. It is the thirteenth amendment “that irrevocably abolished slavery throughout the United States” (Foner 583).
The White landowners of the South needed no encouragement to craft the black codes as they had so much to lose. First, there was the fear that the 4 million freed blacks would want revenge against their enslavement and therefore there was a need to subdue and regain control over the Negro, and to prevent possible uprisings. Inasmuch as blacks had proved resilient in farm work, they were a cheap source of labor not to be wasted, so the codes ensured the Negro remained disempowered, in other words, enslaved. Thus, the work of the Freedmen’s Bureau of ‘feeding the postwar slaves and educating their children’ (PBS The Freedmen’s Bureau) was not at all pleasing to the former slave masters.
Although the codes varied from state to state, they were all geared to keep the blacks inferior and maintain white supremacy. In essence, the Negro remained a piece of property, which, though not legally owned, could not exist without laboring for the white. Black kids were hired out as labor and labor contracts barred blacks from …
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