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the Federal ship Maple Leaf and back across sand and swamp through many hardships to the Confederate lines. The narrative is founded entirely upon fact. It begins in Louisiana, and the final scenes are laid in Chesapeake Bay and Virginia.
It was listened to with breathless interest and at the conclusion received enthusiastic applause. In acknowledgment of this, Mr. Cable gave one of his characteristic recitals, such as have made him famous on the lecture platform throughout the country. It was a unique and brilliant example of his genius, which also evoked enthusiastic plaudits. At the end of which the society adjourned.
The meeting on April 22 was made a memorable one in the records of the Louisiana Historical Society, as the eighth annual meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Society which was being held in our city at the time gave our society the opportunity of entertaining the members of the Mississippi Valley Historical Society and profiting by the presence in our midst of many distinguished historical students. The pleasant social program arranged by the committee of the Louisiana Historical Society was carried out most successfully and evidently to the appreciation of our guests. The last feature of it (officially) was the monthly meeting of the Louisiana Society, which was held in honor of the visiting society.
A large and most complimentary audience assembled in the Cabildo. All the officers of the society and most of the members were present. The reading of the minutes was dispensed with by motion. The following names presented by Mr. W. O. Hart were elected to membership:
Mrs. William Preston Johnston, Mrs. Thomas L. Gleason, Mrs. Margaret Echezabal, Mrs. Ginder Abbott, Mr. P. Chiriboga, Mr. D. H. Théard, Mr. William Lloyd, Mr. Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston, and Major E. K. Russ.
Prof. Isaac J. Cox, of the University of Cincinnati, president of the Mississippi Valley Hitorical Society, read his annual address, entitled: "The Invasion of the Goths and Vandals," instituting a most striking and original comparison between the invasion of the Goths and Vandals in Europe and the encroachment in the seventeenth century of the Anglo Americans, American Goths and Vandals, they were dubbed by the Spaniard, upon the Spanish dominions in America and their eventual absorption of it.
The paper was listened to and followed with intelligent interest. It called forth no discussion, but received enthusiastic applause.
Miss Caroline Francis Richardson, of the Sophie Newcomb College, presented in a most pleasing way a paper entitled, “A Note on the Organization of the Oldest School for Girls in the Mississippi Valley,” an analytical consideration of the educational work of the Ursulines brought into the Louisiana colony by Bienville.
Miss Richardson's notes, a new and original variation on an old and much written up theme, were sparkling with wit, genial with humor and replete with information. It was much enjoyed and applauded. Mr. McLoughlin then contributed a scholarly dissertation on “The Black Code of Louisiana,” tracing legislation for slaves back to its original sources in civilizaton, describing the various codes adopted for the use of slave holding countries, dwelling particularly on the most famous one of all, the Black Code of Louisiana, promulgated by Bienville, maintained by the Spanish authorities and practically dominant in Louisiana until the abolition of slavery in the State. At the conclusion of his paper Mr. McLoughlin was prevailed upon by Mr. Cusachs and the insistant calls of the audience to give a "Jack La Faience” talk, which he did in his own inimitable manner, a performance of exquisite humor that elicited hearty applause and laughter.
Mr. St. George L. Sioussat, of Vanderbilt University, recalled attention to more serious interests with his masterly essay on “Memphis as a Gateway of the West, a Study in Transportation,” in which our old-time celebrities of the South, General Gaines and General Maury figured as heroes in the work of securing to South and West the transportation that had already become a vital problem to them; and a vital necessity to their prosperity; the author reviewing in his pages the old picturesque and forgotten project of making Memphis a dockyard and shipbuilding center. After a vote of thanks to Mr. Sioussat, the society adjourned.
GRACE KING, Secretary.
“THE BLACK CODE."
Paper read by James J. McLoughlin. From time immemorial, dating back to Biblical days, there have been codes of laws, or regulations whereby inferiors were governed.
The ancient Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, all the nations of antiquity who held slaves or servants or subject races under them, had prescribed certain rules governing the status and conduct of these subjects or slaves.
It is not my purpose here to pursue the subject of the codes of Greece and Rome, nor to trace their history down to our own time. Rather will I now treat of the “Black Code” as it existed in Louisiana, and review briefly the history of the legislation which resulted in the enactment of that Code.
When America was discovered, Columbus had as one of his companions in one of his early voyages, the great “Apostle to the Indies,” Las Casas, who came over seeking profit and adventure in the New World.
It was the custom of the Spanish King to grant to these adventurers, upon conditions, large tracts of land in the new country, including with the land the natives inhabiting the same, who were treated and exploited by the grantee as his own slaves.
Under a grant of this kind, Las Casas came to America, and began his career in that line. His nature, however, revolted against the great cruelties that were practiced upon the Indians. His life led him into religion and he became attached to one of the monastic orders.
His inclinations to fair dealing between the natives, coupled with his natural aversion to the cruelty that often characterized the Spanish rule of the natives, led him to move the King to adopt certain rules and regulations for the amelioration of their lot.
This was really the beginning of the Code of America, which later grew into the “Black Code” of Louisiana.
It was soon discovered, however, and perhaps through Las Casas' influence it was made apparent, that the Indian was not by nature a docile slave. Consequently, other labor was sought, and, encouraged by English traders, who were the great leaders of the slave trade in those days, African slaves began to be imported into the West Indies, where they soon replaced the less tractable American Indian.
These Africans being brought over in great numbers, required certain regulations, certain control on the part of the Government.
The colonies of France and Spain in the Indies becoming numerously populated with them, the first succinct, or I may say, legal Code for the government of the slaves in America was enacted by Louis XIV on March 16, 1685, and was called the "Code Noir.” · Like all the French Government decrees, it was very minute and entered into the very details of daily life. It contained 60 articles. Reflecting the strong religious influence of the age, it carefully provided for the religious welfare of the slave. Its first article enjoined all the King's Officers in the colonies to expel from their dominions within three months from the publication of the Code, all Jews found there. It proceeded to require that all slaves should be baptized and instructed in the Catholic Faith; forbade any but Catholic overseers or officials to be placed in charge of, or in control of, negroes.
It forbade any one, master or official, to interfere with the practice of their religion by the slaves; it enjoined the observance of Sundays and holidays; forbade the master to work his slaves on these days in any field work or any heavy labor. It went on at great length to prescribe the food and clothing to be given to the slaves, provided for the support of the aged and infirm by their masters; the care of the sick; and, in general, enjoined, under severe penalties, good treatment of the slave by his master.
It enacted that slaves had no civil rights, belonged absolutely in themselves and in all that they might require, exclusively to their masters; decreed that they had no standing in any civil court; that they had no civil rights, in fact they were as much under the control of their masters as if they were beasts of the field, subject, of course, to the articles of the Code, which recognized their religious rights, and provided for their proper care and maintenance.
Much of the Code is given up to the method of punishing slaves for offences. These offences were subdivided into many heads. The most serious offence, of course, that a slave could commit was to strike his master or a member of the master's family, and if he did so causing an abrasion of the skin or effusion of blood, the slave would suffer death.
Larceny by the slave was not considered a very heinous offence, and was punished with ordinary penalties.
This Code became the law of the French Colonies immediately upon its promulgation and was followed at intervals by other decrees supplementing its provisions.
For example, in 1736 King Louis issued a decree regulating the baptism and emancipation of slaves.