Home » Uncategorized » The Significance of Race: Legislative Racial Discrimination in Louisiana 1803-1865

The Significance of Race: Legislative Racial Discrimination in Louisiana 1803-1865

This article provides a survey of racially discriminatory legislation in Louisiana from 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase was concluded, through the end of the Civil War in 1865.3 It reveals but a portion of the state history of official racial discrimination in that period. Court decisions, acts of local government, societal custom and culture must also be viewed to create a more complete picture.4
The historical period covered in this article reflects several phases of the development of Louisiana law. The first is the territorial period from 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase was concluded, through 1812, when Louisiana became a state. During this time, the legislative acts are those of the territorial legislature. The second is the period from statehood in 1812 through the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. The period from reconstruction to the 1970s will be addressed in a subsequent article.
As a result of the laws surveyed here, tens of thousands of people were held in slavery with the full support of the legislature *147 and its statutes. Free blacks were relegated to second class citizenship and kept few in number by other legislative acts.
While this review of legislative acts illustrates only a portion of the total picture of racial discrimination to which citizens of color were subjected, it does show the solemn legislative will determined to keep Louisiana’s citizens of color, free and unfree, as powerless and enslaved as possible.racial-discrimination-louisiana-1803-1865

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