Extracts from the Black Code, 1685.
DECLARATIONS, AND DECREES,
On the subject of the Discipline & Trade
of Negro Slaves in the Islands
of French America.
EDICT OF THE KING:
On the subject of the Discipline of Negro
Slaves in the Islands of French America.
Done at Versailles in the month of March 1685.
Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre: to all those, present
& to those to come, Greetings. In that we must equally care for all people
that Divine Providence has put under our tutelage, we have agreed to examine
the reports that were sent by our Officers from our Islands in America, by
which we were informed of their need for our authority & our justice in
order to maintain the discipline of the Catholic, Apostolic &
Roman faith & to regulate what concerns the condition & status of
the slaves in our said Islands, & desiring to settle these issues &
inform them that, even though they reside infinitely far from our normal abode,
we are always present for them, not only through the reach of our power but
also by the promptness of our help toward their needs. FOR THESE REASONS,
and on the advice of our Council & with our certain knowledge, absolute
power & royal authority, we have declared, ruled, & ordered, and declare,
rule, & order, that the following pleases us:
II. All Slaves, that shall be in our islands, shall be baptized & instructed
Catholic, Apostolic and Roman faith. We enjoin the inhabitants who shall purchase
newly-arrived Negroes to inform the Governors & Intendants of the said
islands within eight days, or risk being fined an arbitrary amount. They shall
give the necessary orders to have them instructed & baptized within a
suitable amount of time.[...]
VI. We enjoin all our subjects, of whatever status they may be, to observe
Sundays & Holidays that are observed by our subjects of the Roman, Catholic,
and Apostolic faith. We forbid them to work, or to make their slaves work,
on the said days, from midnight until the following midnight, whether at cultivating
the soil, manufacturing sugar, & all other work, at the risk of a fine
& an arbitrary punishment against the masters. [...]
XII. Children born from marriages between Slaves, shall be Slaves, & will
be the property of the Masters of the women slaves, & not of the masters
of their husbands, if the husband & the wife belong to different masters.
XIV. Masters will be required to bury on Holy land in cemeteries designated
for this purpose, their baptized Slaves; & as regards those who die without
having received the sacrament of Baptism, they will be buried in the night
in some field neighbouring the location where they died.
XLIV. We declare Slaves to be movables, & as such enter into Community