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Article-of-the-Day #77: How Stuff Works-Slavery Under Another Name: What Were the Black Codes?

White plantation owners, however — in league with Southern lawmakers and Northern corporations — had other ideas. Starting with Mississippi and South Carolina, all-white state legislatures passed a series of laws called the Black Codes intent on re-enslaving African Americans by essentially criminalizing Blackness…

The Black Codes enacted in late 1865 and early 1866 were devised to keep freed Southern Blacks legally bound to white plantations. The greatest fear of Southern cotton growers and their Northern manufacturing partners was that with the end of slavery they would lose access to the cheap (or free) and plentiful labor that had made cotton a cash crop.