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The slave codes were laws relating to slavery and enslaved people, specifically regarding the Atlantic slave trade and chattel slavery in the Americas.
Most slave codes were concerned with the rights and duties of free people in regards to enslaved people. Slave codes left a great deal unsaid, with much of the actual practice of slavery being a matter of traditions rather than formal law.
The primary colonial powers all had slightly different slave codes. French colonies, after 1685, had the Code Noir specifically for this purpose.The Spanish had some laws regarding slavery in Las Siete Partidas, a far older law that was not designed for the slave societies of the Americas. English colonies largely had their own local slave codes, mostly based on the codes of either the colonies of Barbados or Virginia.
In addition to these national and state- or colony-level slave codes, there were city ordinances and other local restrictions regarding enslaved people.
There are many similarities between the various slave codes. The most common elements are:
There was no central English slave code; each colony developed its own code. In the United States, after their independence, the individual states ratified new constitutions, but their laws were generally a continuation of the laws those regions maintained prior to that point and their slave codes remaining unchanged.[ citation needed ]
The first comprehensive English slave code was established in Barbados, an island in the Caribbean, in 1661. Many other slave codes of the time are based directly on this model. Modifications of the Barbadian slave codes were put in place in the Colony of Jamaica in 1664, and were then greatly modified in 1684. The Jamaican codes of 1684 were copied by the colony of South Carolina in 1691.The South Carolina slave code served as the model for many other colonies in North America. In 1755, colony of Georgia adopted the South Carolina slave code.
Virginia's slave codes were made in parallel to those in Barbados, with individual laws starting in 1667 and a comprehensive slave code passed in 1705.The slave codes of the other tobacco colonies (Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina) were modeled on the Virginia code. While not based directly on the codes of Barbados, the Virginia codes were inspired by them. The shipping and trade that took place between the West Indies and the Chesapeake meant that planters were quickly informed of any legal and cultural changes that took place. According to historian Russell Menard, when Maryland put its slave code in place the influence of the Barbadian codes as a "cultural hearth" for the law is noted with members of the Maryland legislature having been former residents of Barbados.
The northern colonies developed their own slave codes at later dates, the strictest being in the colony of New York, which passed a comprehensive slave code in 1702 and expanded that code in 1712 and 1730.
The slave trade was abolished throughout the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act of 1807. In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act ended slavery throughout the British Empire.[ citation needed ]
In the United States, there was a division between slave states in the South and free states in the North. At the start of the American Civil War, there were 34 states in the United States, 15 of which were slave states, all of which had slave codes. The 19 free states did not have slave codes, although they still had laws regarding slavery and enslaved people, covering such issues as how to handle slaves from slave states, whether they were runaways or with their owners.[ citation needed ]
Slavery was not banned nationwide in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865. The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves on 1 January 1808, made it a felony to import slaves from abroad.
The French colonies in North America were the only portion of the Americas to have an effective slave code applied from the center of the empire. King Louis XIV applied the Code Noir in 1685, and it was adopted by Saint-Domingue in 1687 and the French West Indies in 1687, French Guiana in 1704, Réunion in 1723, and Louisiana in 1724. It was never applied in Canada, which had very few slaves. The Code Noir was developed in part to combat the spread of Protestantism and thus focuses more on religious restrictions than other slave codes. The Code Noir was significantly updated in 1724.
The city of New Orleans in Louisiana developed slave codes under Spain, France, and the United States, due to Louisiana changing hands several times, resulting in a very complex set of slave codes. The needs of the locals were usually held in favor over any outside laws.
France abolished slavery after the French Revolution, first by freeing second-generation slaves in 1794.Although it was reinstated under Napoleon with the law of 20 May 1802.
In practice, the slave codes of the Spanish colonies were local laws, similar to those in other regions. There was an overarching legal code, Las Siete Partidas, which granted many specific rights to the slaves in these regions, but there is little record of it actually being used to benefit the slaves in the Americas. Las Siete Partidas was compiled in the thirteenth century, long before the colonization of the new world, and its treatment of slavery was based on the Roman tradition. Frank Tannenbaum, an influential sociologist who wrote on the treatment of slaves in the Americas, treated the laws in Las Siete Partidas as an accurate reflection of treatment, but later scholarship has moved away from this viewpoint, arguing that the official laws in Las Siete Partidas did not reflect practices in the colonies.
An attempt to unify the Spanish slave codes, the Codigo Negro, was cancelled without ever going into effect because it was unpopular with the slave-owners in the Americas.
The Laws of the Indies were an ongoing body of laws, modified throughout the history of the Spanish colonies, that incorporated many slave laws in the later versions.
Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end slavery. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the Atlantic slave trade and liberate the enslaved people.
Barbados, island country in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, situated about 100 miles east of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Roughly triangular in shape, the island measures some 21 miles from northwest to southeast and about 114miles from east to west at its widest point. The capital and largest town is Bridgetown, which is also the main seaport. Barbados was inhabited by its indigenous peoples – Arawaks and Caribs – prior to the European colonization of the Americas in the 16th century. Barbados was briefly claimed by the Spanish who saw the trees with the beard like feature. Empire from 1532 to 1620. The island was English and later a British colony from 1625 until 1966. Since 1966, it has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, modelled on the Westminster system, with Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados, as head of state.
Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves by their owners. Different approaches to manumission were developed, each specific to the time and place of a particular society. Jamaican historian Verene Shepherd states that the most widely used term is gratuitous manumission, "the conferment of freedom on the enslaved by enslavers before the end of the slave system".
Slavery in the colonial history of the United States, from 1526 to 1776, developed from complex factors, and researchers have proposed several theories to explain the development of the institution of slavery and of the slave trade. Slavery strongly correlated with the European colonies' demand for labor, especially for the labor-intensive plantation economies of the sugar colonies in the Caribbean and South America, operated by Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Dutch Republic.
Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel slavery, comprising the enslavement primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America from its founding in 1776 until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Slavery was established throughout European colonization in the Americas. From early colonial days, it was practiced in Britain's colonies, including the Thirteen Colonies which formed the United States. Under the law, an enslaved person was treated as property and could be bought, sold, or given away. Slavery lasted in about half of U.S. states until 1865. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping and convict leasing.
In the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, free people of color were people of mixed African, European, and sometimes Native American descent who were not enslaved. They were a distinct group of free people of color in the French colonies, including Louisiana and in settlements on Caribbean islands, such as Saint-Domingue (Haiti), St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. In these territories and major cities, particularly New Orleans, and those cities held by the Spanish, a substantial third class of primarily mixed-race, free people developed. These colonial societies classified mixed-race people in a variety of ways, generally related to visible features and to the proportion of African ancestry. Racial classifications were numerous in Latin America.
The Barbados Slave Code of 1661, officially titled as An Act for the better ordering and governing of Negroes, was a law passed by the colonial English legislature to provide a legal basis for slavery in the Caribbean island of Barbados. It is the first comprehensive Slave Act, and the code's preamble, which stated that the law's purpose was to "protect them [slaves] as we do men's other goods and Chattels", established that black slaves would be treated as chattel property in the island's court.
A plantation economy is an economy based on agricultural mass production, usually of a few commodity crops grown on large farms called plantations. Plantation economies rely on the export of cash crops as a source of income. Prominent crops included cotton, rubber, sugar cane, tobacco, figs, rice, kapok, sisal, and species in the genus Indigofera, used to produce indigo dye.
Slavery in the British and French Caribbean refers to slavery in the parts of the Caribbean dominated by France or the British Empire.
Slavery in the Spanish American colonies was an economic and social institution which existed throughout the Spanish Empire including Spain itself. In its American territories, Spain displayed an early abolitionist stance towards indigenous people although Native American slavery continued to be practiced, particularly until the New Laws of 1543. The Spanish empire, however was involved in the enslavement people of African origin. Although the Spanish themselves played a very minor role in the Atlantic slave trade compared to other European empires, in absolute terms, the Spanish Empire was a major recipient of African slaves, with around 22% of the Africans delivered to American shores ending up in the Spanish Empire.
Partus sequitur ventrem was a legal doctrine passed in colonial Virginia in 1662 and other English crown colonies in the Americas which defined the legal status of children born there; the doctrine mandated that all children would inherit the legal status of their mothers. As such, children of enslaved women would be born into slavery. The legal doctrine of partus sequitur ventrem was derived from Roman civil law, specifically the portions concerning slavery and personal property (chattels).
Atlantic Creole is a term used in North America to describe a mixed-race ethnic group of Americans who have ancestral roots in Africa, Europe and sometimes the Caribbean. These people are culturally American and are the descendants of a Charter Generation of slaves and indentured workers during the European colonization of the Americas before 1660. Some had lived and worked in Europe or the Caribbean before coming to North America. Examples of such men included John Punch and Emanuel Driggus.
Slavery among Native Americans in the United States includes slavery by and slavery of Native Americans roughly within what is currently the United States of America.
Slavery in New France was practiced by some of the indigenous populations, which enslaved outsiders as captives in warfare, but it was European colonization that made commercial chattel slavery become common in New France. By 1750, two thirds of the enslaved peoples in New France were indigenous, and by 1834, most enslaved people were black.
Slavery in Virginia began with the enslavement of Native Americans during the early days of the English Colony of Virginia and through the late eighteenth century. They primarily worked in tobacco fields. Africans were first brought to Colonial Virginia in 1619, when 20 Africans from present-day Angola arrived in Virginia on the ship The White Lion. About that time, Native Americans were also captured and enslaved.
The Code Noir was a decree passed by the French King Louis XIV in 1685 defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire. The decree restricted the activities of free people of color, mandated the conversion of all enslaved people throughout the empire to Roman Catholicism, defined the punishments meted out to slaves, and ordered the expulsion of all Jews from France's colonies.
Slavery in Cuba was a portion of the larger Atlantic Slave Trade that primarily supported Spanish plantation owners engaged in the sugarcane trade. It was practiced on the island of Cuba from the 16th century until it was abolished by Spanish royal decree on October 7, 1886.
Native Americans living in the American Southeast were enslaved through warfare and purchased by European colonists throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as well as held in captivity through Spanish-organized forced labor systems in Florida. Emerging colonies in Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia imported Native Americans and incorporated them into chattel slavery systems, where they intermixed with slaves of African descent, who would come to outnumber them. Their demand for slaves affected communities as far west as present-day Illinois and the Mississippi River and as far south as the Gulf Coast. The trade in enslaved Native Americans sent tens of thousands of them outside the region to New England and the Caribbean as a profitable export.
Following Robert Cavelier de La Salle establishing the French claim to the territory and the introduction of the name Louisiana, the first settlements in the southernmost portion of Louisiana were developed at present-day Biloxi (1699), Mobile (1702), Natchitoches (1714), and New Orleans (1718). Slavery was then established by European colonists.
The planter class, known alternatively in the United States as the Southern aristocracy, was a socio-economic caste of Pan-American society that dominated 17th and 18th century agricultural markets through the slavery of African Americans. The Atlantic slave trade permitted planters access to inexpensive labor for the planting and harvesting of crops such as tobacco, cotton, indigo, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, sisal, oil seeds, oil palms, hemp, rubber trees, and fruits. Planters were considered part of the American gentry.