black codes

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black codes,

in U.S. history, series of statutes passed by the ex-Confederate states, 1865–66, dealing with the status of the newly freed slaves. They varied greatly from state to state as to their harshness and restrictiveness. Although the codes granted certain basic civil rights to blacks (the right to marry, to own personal property, and to sue in court), they also provided for the segregation of public facilities and placed severe restrictions on the freedman's status as a free laborer, his right to own real estate, and his right to testify in court. Although some Northern states had black codes before the Civil War, this did not prevent many northerners from interpreting the codes as an attempt by the South to reenslave blacks. The Freedmen's BureauFreedmen's Bureau,
in U.S. history, a federal agency, formed to aid and protect the newly freed blacks in the South after the Civil War. Established by an act of Mar. 3, 1865, under the name "bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands," it was to function for one year
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 prevented enforcement of the codes, which were later repealed by the radical Republican state governments.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Black Codes


bills introduced in the legislatures of several Southern states after the US Civil War (1861–65). The codes forced Negroes to work for meager wages for their former owners and deprived them of their freedom of movement and their right to own or rent land; they also permitted the use of forced Negro child labor and forbade Negroes to hold meetings of any kind, carry weapons, or marry whites. Provision was made for the formation of special courts to deal with crimes committed by Negroes. The Black Codes were formally abolished in a number of states in the 1870’s, but similar statutes were included in state constitutions and criminal legislation.


Foster, W. Negritianskii narod v istorii Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. Chapter 27. (Translated from English.)
Ivanov, R. F. Bor’ba negrov za zemliu i svobodu na luge SShA, 1865–1877. Moscow, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.