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LEGISLATION RESPECTING FREEDMEN.
1866, March 10–The act “concerning negroes, and persons of color, or of mixed blood,” passed by o: Legislature, declares that “negroes and their issue, even where one ancestor in each succeeding generation to the fourth inclusive, is white, shall be deemed persons of color.” It ives them all the privileges of white persons i. the courts in the mode of prosecuting, defending, continuing, removing, and transferring their suits at law and in equity, and makes them eligible as witnesses, when not otherwise incompetent, in “all controversies at law and in equity where the rights of persons or property of persons of color shall be put in issue, and would be concluded by the judgment or decree of court; and also in pleas of the State, where the violence, fraud, or injury alleged shall be charged to have been done by or to persons of color. In all other eiwil and criminal cases such evidence shall be deemed inadmissible, unless by consent of the parties of record: Provided, That this section shall not go into effect until jurisdiction in matters relating to freedmen shall be fully committed to the courts of this State: Provided further, That no person shall be deemed incompetent to bear testimony in such cases, because of being a party to the record or in interest.” The criminal laws of the State are extended in their operation to embrace persons of color, and the same punishment is inflicted on them as on the whites, except for rape, which, if a white female is the victim, is a capital crime for a black. The law regarding apprentices is so amended as to make its provisions applicable to blacks, but it gives the former masters the preference, and ift: that they should be regarded as the most suitable persons. Provision is also made for legalizing the marriages of the blacks contracted during slavery, and for punishment of illicit cohabitation. All which is modified by a proviso that the act shall not take effect until after the Freedmen's Bureau is removed. Where men and women, lately slaves, now cohabit together in the relation of husband and wife, they shall be deemed to have been lawfully married at the time of the commencement of such cohabitation; and they are required to go before the clerk of the county court, acknowledge the cohabitation, of which record shall be made, and shall be prima facie evidence of the statements made. All contracts between any persons whatever, whereof one or more of them shall be a person of color, for the sale or purchase of any horse, mule, ass, jennet, neat cattle, hog, sheep, or goat, whatever may be the value of such articles, and all contracts between such persons for any other article or articles of property whatever of
the value of ten dollars or more, and all contracts executed or executory between such persons for the payment of money of the value of ten dollars or more, shall be void as to all persons whatever, unless the same be put in writing and signed by the vendors or id: and witnessed by a white person who can read and write. Marriage between white persons and persons of color shall be void; and every person authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony, who shall knowingly solemnize the same between such persons, and every clerk of a court who shall knowingly issue license for their marriage, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, moreover, shall pay a penalty of five hundred dollars to any person suing for the same.
MISSISSIPPI. An Act to regulate the Relation of Master and Apprentice relative to Freedmen, FreeNegroes, and Mulattoes, November 22, 1865.
SEC. 1 provides that it shall be the duty of all sheriffs, justices of the peace, and other civil officers of the several counties in this State to report to the probate courts of their respective counties semi-annually, at the January and July terms of said courts, all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, under the age of eighteen, within their respective counties, beats, or districts, who are orphans, or whose parent or parents have not the means, or who refuse to provide for and support said minors, and thereupon it shall be the #. of said probate court to order the clerk of said court to apprentice said minors to some competent and suitable person, on such terms as the court may direct, having a particular care to the interest of said, minors: Provided, That the former owner of said minors shall have the preference when, in the opinion of the court, he or she shall be a suitable person for that purpose. SEC. 2 provides that the said court shall be fully satisfied that the person or persons to whom said minor shall be apprenticed shall be a suitable person to have the charge and care of said minor, and fully to protect the interest of said minor: Provided, That said apprentice shall be bound by indenture, in case of males until they are twenty-one years old, and in case of females until they are eighteen years old. SEC. 3 Fo that in the management and control of said apprentices said master or mistress shall have power to inflict such moderate corporeal chastisement as a father or guardian is allowed to inflict on his or her child or ward at common law: Provided, That in no case shall cruel or inhuman punishment be inflicted. SEC. 4 provides that if any apprentice shall leave the employment of his or her master or
mistress, without his or her consent, said master or mistress may pursue and recapture said apprentice, and bring him or her before any justice of the peace of the county, whose duty it shall be to remand said apprentice to the service of his or her master or mistress; and in the event of a refusal on the part of said apprentice so to return, then said justice shall commit said apprentice to the jail of said county, on failure to give bond, until the next term of the county court; and it shall be the duty of said court, at fie first term thereafter, to investigate said case, and if the court shall be of opinion that said apprentice left the employment of his or her master or mistress without good cause, to order him or her to be punished, as provided for the punishment of hired freedmen, as may be from time to time provided for by law for desertion, until he or she shall agree to return to his or her master or mistress: Provided, That the court may ;"| continuances, as in other cases: And provided further, That if the court shall believe that said apprentice had good cause to uit his said master or mistress, the court shall ischarge said apprentice from said indenture, and also enter a judgment against the master or mistress, for not more than one hundred dol. lars, for the use and benefit of said apprentice, to be collected on execution, as in other cases. SEC. 5 provides that if any person entice away any apprentice from his or her master or mistress, or shall knowingly employ an apprentice, or furnish him or her food or clothing, without the written consent of his or her master or mistress, or shall sell or give said apprentice ardent spirits without such consent, said person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall on conviction thereof before the county court, be punished as provided for the punishment of persons enticing from their employer hired freedmen, free negroes, or mulattoes. SEC. 6 makes it the duty of all civil officers to report any minors within their respective counties to said probate court for apprenticeship. SEC. 9 provides that it shall ; lawful for any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, having a minor child or children, to apprentice the said minor child or children as provided for by this act. SEd. 10 provides that in all cases where the age of the freedman, free negro, or mulatto cannot be ascertained by record testimony, the judge of the county court shall fix the age.
The Wagrant Act, November 24, 1865,
SEC. 1 defines who are vagrants.
SEC, 2 provides that all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes in this State, over the age of eighteen years, found on the second Monday in January, 1866, or thereafter, with no lawful employment or business, or found unlawfully assembling themselves together, either in the day or night time, and all white persons so assembling with freedmen, free negroes, or mu. lattoes, or usually, associating wish freedman, free negroes, or mulattoes on terms of equality, or living in adultery or fornication with a freedwoman, free negro, or mulatto, shall be deemed vagrants, and on conviction thereof shall be fined in the sum of not exceeding, in the case of a freedman, free negro or mulatio, fifty dollars, and a white man two hundred dollars, and im
risoned, at the discretion of the court, th: ree negro not exceeding ten days, and the white man not exceeding six months. SEC, 3 gives all justices of the peace, mayors and aldermen jurisdiction to try all questions co vagrancy, and it is made their duty to arrest parties violating any provisions of this act, in vestigate the charges, and, on conviction, punist as provided. It is made the duty of all sheriff; constables, town constables, city marshals, an: all like officers, to report to some officer having jurisdiction all violations of any of the provis, ions of this act, and it is made the duty of th: county courts to inquire if any officer has neg lected any of these duties, and if guilty to fin. him not exceeding $100, to be paid into th: county treasury. SEC. 5 provides that all fines and forfeiture collected under the provisions of this act sha. be paid into the county treasury for gener. county purposes, and in case any freedman, fre negro or mulatto, shall fail for five days afto the imposition of any fine or forfeiture upco him or her, for violation of any of the provis ions of this act to pay the same, that it shall be and is hereby made, the duty of the sheriff o the proper county to hire out said freedman free negro or mulatto, to any person who will for the shortest period of service, pay said fine or forfeiture and all costs: Provided, A pre: erence shall be given to the employer, if thes, be one, in which case the employer shall be entitled to deduct and retain the amount so pai from the wages of such freedman, free negro of mulatto, then due or to become due; and in cast such freedman, free negro or mulatto cannot be hired out, he or she may be dealt with as a pauper. SEC. 6 provides that the same duties and lia. bilities existing, among white persons of this State shall attach to freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes, to support their indigent families and all colored paupers; and that in order to secure a support for such indigent freedmen, free ne: roes and mulattoes, it shall be lawful, and it is ereby made the duty of the boards of county police of each county in this State, to levy a poll or capitation tax on each and every freed. man, free negro or mulatto, between the ages of eighteen and sixty years, not to exceed the sum of one dollar annually to each person so taxed which tax when collected shall be paid into the county treasurer's hands, and constitute a fund to be called the freedmen's pauper fund, which shall be o by the commissioners of the poor for the maintenance of the poor of the freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, of this State, under such regulations as may be estab: lished by the boards of the county police in the respective counties of this State. SEC. 7 provides that if any freedman, free negro or mulatto shall fail or refuse to pay any tax levied according to the provisions of the sixth section of this act, it shall be prima facic evidence of vagrancy, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff to arrest such freedman, free negro or mulatto, or such persons refusing or neglecting to pay such tax, and proceed at once to hire, for the shortest time, such delinquent tax-payer to any one who will pay the said tax, with the accruing costs, giving preserence to the employer, if there be one.
An Act to confer Civil Rights on Freedmen, and for other Purposes, November 25, 1865. SECTION 1 provides that all freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes may sue and be sued, implead and be impleaded in all the courts of law and equity of this State, and may acquire Personal j. and choses in action by descent or purchase, and may dispose of the same in the same manner and to the same extent that white Po may : Provided, That the provisions of this section shall not be so construed as to allow any freedman, free negro or mulatto to rent or lease any lands or tenements, except in incorporated towns or cities, in which places the corporate authorities shall control the same. Ec. 2 provides that all freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes may intermarry with each other in the same manner and under the same regulations that are provided by law for white persons: Provided, That the clerk of probate shall keep separate records of the same. SEC. 3 further provides that all freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes, who do now and have heretofore lived and cohabited together as husband and wife shall be taken and held in law as legally married, and the issue shall be taken and i. as legitimate for all purposes. That it shall not be lawful for any freedman, free negro or mulatto to intermarry with any white persons nor for any white person to intermarry with any freedman, free negro or mulatto; and any person who shall so intermarry shall be deemed guilty of felony, and on conviction thereof, shall be confined in the State penitentiary for life; and those shall be deemed freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes who are of pure negro blood, and those descended from a negro to the third generation, inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person. SEc. 4 provides that in addition to cases in which freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes are now by law competent witnesses, freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes shall be competent in civil cases, when a party or parties to the suit, either plaintiff or plaintiffs, defendant or defendants; also in cases, where freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes are either plaintiff or plaintiffs defendant or defendants, and a white person or white persons is or are the "...# party or arties, plaintiff or plaintiffs, defendant or deendants. They shall also be competent witnesses in all criminal prosecutions where the crime, charged is alleged to have been committed by a white person upon or against the person or property of a freedman, free negro or mulatto: Provided, That in all cases said witnesses shall be examined in open court on the stand, except, however, they may be examined before the grand jury, and shall in all cases be subject to the rules and tests of the common law as to competency and credibility. SEC, 5 #. that, every freedman, free negro, and mulatto shall on the second Monday of January, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and annually thereafter, have a lawful home or employment, and shall have written evidence thereof, as follows, to wit: If living in any incorporated city, town, or village, TÉ. rom the mayor thereof, and if living outside of any incorporated city, town, or
village, from the member of the board of police of his beat, authorizing him or her to do irregular and job work, or a written contract, as provided in section six of this act; which licenses may be revoked for cause at any time by the authority granting the same. SEC. 6 provides that all contracts for labor made with freedmen, free negroes, and inulattoes, for a longer period than one month, shall be in writing and in duplicate, attested and read to said i. free negro, or mulatto by a beat, city, or county officer or two disinterested white persons of the county in which the labor is to be performed, of which each party shal have one; and said contracts shall be taken an held as entire contracts, and if the laborer shal quit the service of the employer before the expiration of his term of service without good cause, he shall forfeit his wages for that year up to the time of o SEC. 7... provides that every civil officer shall, and every person may arrest and carry back to his or her legal employer any freedman, free negro, or mulatto who shall have quit the service of his or her employer before the expiration of his or her term of service without good cause; and said officer and person shall be entitled to receive for arresting and carrying back ever deserting employé aforesaid the sum of five dollars, and ten cents per mile from the place of arrest to the place of delivery, and the same shall be paid § the employer and held as a set-off for so much against the wages of said deserting employé: Provided, That said arrested arty after being so returned may appeal to a justice of the peace or member of the board of the police of the county, who, on notice to the alleged employer, shall try, summarily, whether said a o is legally employed by the alleged employer and has good cause to quit said employer; either party shall have the right of appeal to the county court, pending ..., the alleged deserter shall be remanded to the alleged employer, or otherwise disposed of as shall be right and just ; and the decision of the county court shall be final. SEC. 8 provides that upon affidavit made by the employer of any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or other credible person, before an justice of the peace or member of the i. of police, that any freedman, free negro, or ift. legally employed by said employer, has illegally deserted said employment, such justice of the peace or member of the board of police shall issue his warrant or warrants, returnable before himself or other such officer, directed to any sheriff, constable, or special deputy, commanding him to arrest said deserter and return him or her to said employer, and the like proceedings shall be had as provided in the ji. section; and it shall be lawful for any officer to whom sueh warrant shall be directed to execute said warrant in any county of this State, and that said warrant may be transmitted without indorsement to any like officer of another county to be executed and returned as aforesaid, and the said employer shall pay the cost of said warrants and arrest and return, which shall be set off for so much against the wages of said deserter.
SEC, 9 provides that if any person shall per, Suade, or attempt to persuade, entice, or cause any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to desert from the legal employment of any person before , the expiration of his or her term of service, or shall knowingly employ any such deserting freedman, free negro, or mulatto, or shall knowingly give or sels to any such deserting freedman, free negro, or mulätto any food, raiment, ... or other thing, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars and not more than two hundred dollars and the costs; and if said fine and costs shall not be immediately paid, the court shall sentence said convict to not exceeding two months' imprisonment in the county - § and he or she shall, moreover, be liable to ... the party injured in damages: Provided, If any Fo §. or shall attempt to, persuade, enice, or cause any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to desert from any legal employment of any erson with the view to employ said freedman, ree negro, or mulatto without the limits of this State, such person, on conviction, shall be fined not less than fifty dollars and not more than five hundred dollars and costs; and if said fine and costs shall not be immediately paid the court shall sentence said convict to not exceeding six months' imprisonment in the county jail. SEC. 10 provides that it shall be lawful for any freedman, free negro, or mulatto to charge any ywhite person, freedman, free negro, or mulattö, by .#. with any criminal offence against his or her person or property, and upon such affidavit the proper process shall be issued and executed as if said affidavit was made by a white person, and it shall be lawful for any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, in any action, suit, or controversy, pending or about to be instituted in any court of law or equity in this State, to make all needful and lawful affidavits as shall be necessary for the institution, prosecution, or defence of such suit or controversy. SEC. 11 provides that the penal laws of this State, in all cases not otherwise specially provided for, shall apply and extend to all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes.
An Act Supplementary to “An Act. to confer Civil Rights upon Freedmen,” and for other purposes, December 2, 1865. SEC. 1 provides that in every case where any white person has been arrested and brought to trial, by virtue of the provisions of the tenth section of the above recited act, in any court in this State, upon sufficient proof being made to the court or jury, upon the trial before said court, that any freedman, free negro or mulatto has falsely and maliciously caused the arrest and trial of said white person or persons, the court shall render up a judgment against said freedman, free negro or mulatto for all costs of the case, and impose a fine not to exceed fifty dollars, and imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed twenty days; and for a failure of said freedmen, free negro or mulatto to pay, or cause to be paid, all costs, fines and jail fees, the sheriff of the county is hereby authorized and required, after giving ten days’ public notice, to proceed to hire out at public outcry, at the court-house of the county, said freedman,
, altered by law.
free negro or mulatto, for the shortest time to raise iño amount necessary to discharge said freedman, free negro or mulatto from all costs, fines, and jail fees aforesaid.
An Act to punish certain 0ffences therein named, and for other purposes, November 29, 1865. SEC. 1. Be it enacted, &c., That no freedman free negro, or mulatto, not in the military ser. vice of the United States Government, and not licensed to do so by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk, or bowie-knife, and on conviction, thereof, in the county court, shall be punished by fine, not exceeding ten dol. lars, and pay the costs of such proceedings, and all such arms or ammunition shall be forfeited to the informer; and it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer to arrest any freedman, free negro, or mulatto found with any such arms or ammunition, and cause him to be committed for trial in default of bail. SEC. 2. That any freedman, free negro, or mn. latto, committing riots, routes, affrays, trespasses, malicious mischief and cruel treatment to animals, seditious speeches, insulting gestures, language, or acts, or assaults on any person, disturbance of the peace, exercising the functions of a minister of i. gospel without a license from some regu. larly organized church, vending spirituous of intoxicating liquors, or committing any other misdemeanor, the punishment of which is not specifically provided for by law, shall, upon conviction thereof, in the county court, be fined not less than ten dollars, and not more than one hun. dred dollars, and may be imprisoned, at the dis. cretion of the court, not exceeding thirty days. SEC. 3. That if any white person shall sell, lend, or give to any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, any fire-arms, dirk, or bowie-knife, or ammunition, or any spirituous or intoxicating liquors, such person or persons so offending, upon conviction thereof, in the county court of his or her county, shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars, and may be imprisoned, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty days. SEC. 4. That all the penal and criminal laws now in force in this State, defining offences, and prescribing the mode of punishment for crimes and misdemeanors committed by slaves, free negroes or mulattoes, be and the same are here. by re-enacted, and declared to be in full force and effect, against freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, except so far as the mode and manner of trial and punishment have been changed or
SEC. 5. That if any freedman, free negro or mulatto, convicted of any of the misdemeanors provided against in this act, shall fail or refuse, for the space of five days after conviction, to pay the fine and costs imposed, such person †. hired out by the sheriff or other officer, at public outcry, to any white person who will pay said fine and all costs, and take such convict for the shortest time.
1865, December 15—Free persons of color are made competent witnesses in all courts in cases where a free person of color is a party, or the offence charged is against the person or property
of a free person of color. Persons of color now :living as husband and wife are declared to be so, except a man has two or more reputed wives, or a wife two or more reputed husbands; in such sevent, they shall select one and the marriage ceremony be performed. 1866, Feb. 23—All male inhabitants, white and black, between sixteen and fifty, subject to work on the public roads, except such as are o exempted. March 7–Any officer knowingly issuing any marriage license to parties, either of whom is of African descent and the other a white person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction be fined from two hundred to five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for three months, or both. Any officer or minister marrying such persons "shall be fined from five hundred to one thousand dollars, and imprisoned six months, or both. * March 9—That among persons of color the parent shall be required to maintain his or her children, whether legitimate or illegitimate. That children shall be subjected to the same obligations, in relation to their parents, as those which existing relation to white persons. That every colored child hereafter born, is declared to be the legitimate child of his mother, and also of his colored father, if acknowledged by such father. - To Amend the Penal Code. March 12—The 4,435th section of the Penal ode shall read as follows: All persons wandering or strolling about in idleness, who are able to work, and who have no property to support them; all persons leading an idle, immoral, or profligate life, who have no property to support them, and are able ...to work and do not work; all persons able to work having no visible and known means of a fair, honest, and reputable livelihood; all persons having a fixed abode, who have no visible property to support them, and who live by stealong or by trading in, bartering for, or buying stolen property; and all professional gamblers living in idleness, shall be deemed and consid: wered vagrants, and shall be indicted as such, and "it shall be lawful for any person to arrest said vagrants and have them bound over for trial to the next term of the county court, and upon conviction, they shall be fined and imprisoned or sentenced to work on the public works, for not longer than a year, or shall, in the discretion of ... the court, be bound out to some person for a time not longer than one year, upon such val"uable consideration as the court may prescribe; the person giving bond in a sum not exceeding $300, payable to said court and conditioned to clothe and feed, and provide said convict with medical attendance for and during said time: Provided, That the defendant may, at any time, before conviction, be discharged, upon paying costs and giving bond and security in a sum not exceeding $200, payable to said court, and condition for the good behavior and industry of defendant for one year. March 8–The wilful and malicious burning of an occupied dwelling-house of another on a farm, or plantation, or elsewhere, shall be punished with death; also burglary in the night; also stealing a horse or mulé, unless recommended by the jury to the mercy of the court.
March 17–County courts organized, as in other States, for hearing of “cases arising out of the relation of master and servant,” &c. Where such cases shall go against the servant, the judgment for costs upon written notice to the master shall operate as a garnishment against him, and he shall retain a sufficient amount for the payment thereof, out of any wages due to said servant, or to become due during the period of service, and may be cited at any time by the collecting officer to make answer thereto. March 17—SEC. 1. That all negroes, mulattoes, mestizoes, and, their descendants having one eighth negro or African blood in their veins, shall be known in this State as “persons of color.” 2. That persons of color shall have the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be sued, to be parties and give evidence, to inherit, to purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and i. property, and to have full and equal enefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and estate, and shall not be subjected to any other or different punishment, pain or penalty, for the commission of any act or offense, than such as are prescribed for white persons committing like acts or offenses. March 20–Crimes defined in certain sections named, as felonies are reduced below felonies, and all other crimes, punishable by fine or imprisonment or either, shall be likewise punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment not exceeding six months, whipping not exceeding thirty-nine lashes, to work in a chaingang on the public works not to exceed twelve months, and any one or more of these punisho: may be ordered in the discretion of the UlOlge. Judg ALABAMA. December —Bill passed, “making it unlawful for any freedmen, mulatto, or free person of color in this State to own fire-arms, or carr about his person a pistol or other deadly weapon,” under a penalty of a fine of $100 or imprisonment three months. Also, making it unlawful for any person to sell, give, or lend fire-arms or ammunition of any description whatever to any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, under a penalty of not less than ; not more than $100 at the discretion of the jury. December 9—This bill passed: That all freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, shall have the right to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded in all. the different and various courts of this State, to the same extent that white persons now have by law. And they shall be competent to testify only in open court, and only in cases in which freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes are parties, either plaintiff or defendant, and in civil or criminal cases, for injuries in the persons and property of freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes, and in all cases, civil or criminal, in which a freedman, free negro, or mulatto, is a witness against a white person, or a white person against a freedman, free negro, or mulatto the parties shall be competent witnesses, and neither interest in the question or suit, nor marriage, shall disqualify any witness from testifying in open court. 1866, Febuary 16—A law was enacted, of