black code

plural black codes

Definition of black code

in U.S. history
: any of various racially discriminatory laws that were passed in 1865 and 1866 in states that had been part of the Confederate States of America and that were enacted in order to maintain white supremacy (see white supremacy sense 2) after the formal abolition of slavery at the end of the U.S. Civil War

First Known Use of black code

1865, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for black code

probably translation of French Code Noir, any of several law codes regulating free or enslaved Africans, or persons of African descent, in French Caribbean colonies and Louisiana

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The first known use of black code was in 1865

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Cite this Entry

“Black code.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

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