How do I talk about this?
I'm sure we have all been vaguely aware of periods in our nation's history when we haven't treated all of our people as they should have been treated. The term "Manifest Destiny", for one, conjures up the image of arrogant usurpation of the rights of an entire people.
And "Slavery" ... specifically, "Black Slavery" ... is now universally accepted as one more egregious period in our history.
Perhaps you are aware that, after the Civil War, some states enacted statutes to deny Black Americans the freedoms which they had (supposedly) won as a result of this war. Certainly, those of us who are particularly involved in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms movement (RKBA) have heard that during the immediate post-war period, some states enacted laws specifically designed to deny " ... freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes ..." the RKBA freedoms enjoyed by other citizens.
However, if you are as ignorant as am I, you had no IDEA that these statutes were only a part of a larger, more intrusive and all-encompassing set of laws which evidenced a conspiracy to keep these people in a state of virtual slavery, regardless of the intent of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:Thanks to a recent Dave Kopel article in Reason magazine, I have finally read the entire set of "Black Codes" enacted in 1865 by the state of Mississippi.
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
I have mentioned the "Manifest Destiny" examples of Native Indian abuse, such as the Trail of Tears , the Seminole Indian wars, and the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
But I have never before had cause to feel such shame at being an American.
Now I know what this national shame feels like, and I can tell you that it turns my stomach.
Besides forbidding " ... freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes ..." the right to " .... keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife ....", these other restrictions were singularily applied:
- they may be sued, but they were not permitted to rent or own land outside of a town
- any black who may 'intermarry' a white person would be sent to the penitentary .... for life
- all labor contracts with a black for more than one month must be in writing, and the black who quits before the end of the contracted period would forfeit all wages for the entire period
- any black who quits a contract is subject to arrest, described as a 'deserter', and may be returned to his 'employer ... or otherwise disposed of ..."
- anyone who entices a black to quit this employment is subject to fine and payment of court costs; any black who quits this employment may not be provided " ... any food, rainment, or any other thing ..."
- black orphans can be forceably apprenticed to " ... a suitable person ..."
- masters of these apprentices are specifically permitted to inflict " ... moderate corporal punishment ..."
- " ... all rogues and vagabonds, idle and dissipated persons, beggars, jugglers, or persons practicing unlawful games or' plays, runaways, common drunkards,' common night-walkers, pilferers, lewd wanton, or lascivious persons, in speech or behavior, common railers and brawlers, persons who neglect their calling or employment, misspend what they earn, or do not provide for the support of, themselves or their families, or dependents, and all other idle and disorderly persons, including all who neglect all-lawful business, habitually misspend their time by frequenting houses of ill-fame, gaming-houses, or tippling shops, shall be deemed and considered vagrants"
- adult blacks, with no lawful employment or business, or "living in adultry or fornication" are subject to arrest and fine
- blacks found to be, among other offences, "... committing ... seditious speeches, insulting gestures languages or acts ... exercising the function of a minister of the Gospel without license ... [or] ... vending ... liquors ..." is subject to fine and/or imprisonment
If these acts were applied today to ALL Americans, I would be in jail and in debt for the rest of my natural life, since the day I turned 18, if only for the "mispend what they earn" clause!