Code Noir: ou Recueil d’edits, déclarations et arrets concernant les Esclaves Nègres de l’Amérique


First promulgated in 1685, the Code noir was France’s law code that attempted to govern relations between slaveholders and the enslaved, circumscribing in a series of 60 legal articles the power of enslaved people. While the JCB owns many editions of the Code noir, this 1743 edition is the earliest in a series of handbooks that includes not only the original 60 articles but also the 1724 Louisiana version of the Code and associated regulations concerning trade, administration, justice and policing in the French colonies. The temporal breadth of this collection – not to mention their distinct shapes and sizes – allows scholars to understand the way the audience for this kind of handbook (including merchants, planters, lobbyists, royal policy advisors, colonial administrators) evolved over time, and what they considered to be the broader legal ramifications of the Code.

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