In December 1865 the South Carolina State Legislature ratified a series of laws designed to control the social and economic futures of the freedpeople. Informally known as the Black Code, South Carolina’s white leadership claimed these laws protected blacks from their own naiveté in their newfound freedom. Rather, the Black Code relegated African Americans to inferiority and perpetuated the long-standing belief in white supremacy that permeated the South.
The South Carolina Black Code limited the freedmen’s civil rights, regulated their employment opportunities, and attacked the details of their most intimate personal relationships. Despite the challenges they faced, African American’s did not quietly accept their new quasi-slave status. In South Carolina, the freedmen voiced their concerns regarding the new laws and became active in state politics. African Americans embraced their opportunity to create positive political change, which along with other factors ultimately led to the demise of the Black Code. With support both locally and nationally, black South Carolinians soon gained rights previously denied to them. In less than a year’s time, the South Carolina Black Code ceased to exist as a result of state and federal legislation.
The significance of the South Carolina Black Code was not as much in the letter of the laws themselves, but rather in the message the creation of the code sent to both the freedpeople and their supporters. To South Carolina’s white leadership, though free, African Americans were not their equals. Moreover, the Black Code established precedent for future laws designed to discriminate against African Americans. The Black Code created a foundation for antebellum-like hostilities against former slaves in the post-bellum South. Segregation and violence ensued and fostered a legacy that lasted for almost a century.
|Advisor:||Smith, John David|
|Commitee:||Hogue, James K., McKinley, Shepherd W.|
|School:||The University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||MAI 55/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, American history, Ethnic studies|
|Keywords:||Black Code, Code, Crow, Jim, Freedmen, South Carolina|
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