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How Did Black Codes Maintain a Social Order Similar To Slavery?

Referencing Styles : Harvard | Pages : 1

Black codes are the laws that were enacted by the Southern states after the completion of the Civil war so that the Africans and the Americans were unable to achieve autonomy in economic and political matters. It was seen after the completion of Civil war that slavery had been completely abolished from the southern states. But after the establishment of the black codes, it disabled the abolition of slavery system. As a result the supremacy of white people over the black people was prevalent after the commencement of the laws of black codes.

The black people and the white people continued to work on plantations maintaining the racial hierarchy of the Southern states. Black codes gave rise to Jim crow laws, that is, laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern states. The laws were into force till 1965.

Black codes are also referred to as discriminatory state laws and they varied from one state to another. Some of these laws gave the right to the freed people to marry or testify at the court. But in a general sense these laws were made with the intention of providing a social and economic structure to the racial slavery in absence of an institution. The codes defined powers to the white people while depriving the black people from different social rights such as right to vote, right to serve on juries, right to have a weapon in possession and right to rent or lease land.

It was a notion of the people of the Southern states that slavery was a pillar of economic stability in that region before the Civil war. Hence, the enactment of the black codes laws would pave way again for such economic stability. The laws started free labour system. This means that under the apprentice of the new laws of black codes, the African and American plantation workers were forced to work under the while plantation owners. The freedmen who were adults were forced to sign contracts with the owner under whom they used to work prior to the Civil war. These contracts also prevented the workers from working under more than one employer. As a result the workers had to sustain the low wages given to them by their employers and also had to bear the poor working conditions. Any worker if found violating or evading these contracts were severely beaten or punished. Sometimes they were even arrested. If they were arrested they were made to work like a slave without any wages. Hence, from these phenomena it can be stated that black codes gave rise to a new form of slavery in the Southern states after the completion of the Civil war.

The Civil rights Act of 1866 was enacted on April 1866 and defined citizenship in a new way. It was the first federal law of the United States. The law provided equal rights to all the citizens and gave them protection against discrimination. It abolished slavery which was a common practice during that period and also abolished involuntary servitude. It was intended for protection of the people who were born as African descents or brought in to the United States and were deprived of their civil rights. The Act provided the civil immunities to the deprived people and established equality among the citizens of the United States. It stated that every citizen should enjoy same right as the white citizen in making and enforcing contracts. The citizen should also enjoy the right of providing evidence to the court, and right of purchasing, selling, inheriting, leasing or holding real or personal property. Additionally, the act provided other rights to the citizens such as enactment of laws and legal proceedings for the security of person or property as was previously enjoyed only by the white people.

In the fourteenth amendment of the Act, it provided equal protection clause. The primary motive of this clause was equal protection of right before law. The clause marked a large shift in American constitution by providing certain restrictions against state more than that was imposed before the civil war.

The Civil Act of 1866 failed to provide complete protection to the citizens due to activities of certain terrorists which restricted the power of this act. Till the first half of the 20th century, though it was illegal to discriminate employment and housing on the basis of race, still due to absence of federal penalties the remedies were only restricted to individuals. Many discriminated individuals have limited access to legal help and as a result they suffered from the course of discrimination. From the later half of 20th century, there was a passage of civil rights legislation and the number of remedies provided under the act increased a lot and people have started getting advantages of this act.

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