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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

France's Code Noir: Library of Congress

Greetings Researchers:

The Library of Congress in collaboration with international archives around the globe, features several on-line exhibits that chronicle American history. The link below will take you to its presentation of "France in America." Partnered with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, this fascinating exhibition highlights the cultural and historical influence of France beyond Louisiana.

One particular page is focused on the laws of the Code Noir, which has been discussed on the Afrigeneas Free People of Color Forum. The Library of Congress provides the digitized document along with English translation of the 1724 slave code. It also provides an explanation of its impact on the Americas and on the Free People of Color. The Library of Congress writes:

"As in the Caribbean, however, the Code noir was frequently subverted and contravened. With the passive complicity of local authorities and royal courts, planters put the code into effect only when it was convenient for them. They were obligated to instruct their slaves in the Catholic faith, to furnish them with food and clothing, and to allow them Sundays and holidays off. Planters were forbidden from mistreating their slaves. Certain planters, however, without interference by judicial authorities, did not hesitate to display extreme harshness toward their slaves. Nonetheless, some planters granted their slaves relative liberty of action. In these cases, slaves were frequently allowed to raise chickens or pigs, to cultivate small individual plots of land, and even occasionally to possess firearms."

On the left of the page, please click on any of the subject categories for the complete history of France in America. Its "Illinois Country" reminded me to always remember the vast French "reach" in other parts of America.

Enjoy this wonderful historical collaboration with our Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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