Slave codes were laws that were established to determine the status of slaves and the rights of their owners.
Slave codes were laws that
By early 1866 most Southern states had enacted statutes protecting blacks’ right to hold property, to have recourse to the courts, and to testify in all cases in which at least one party was black. Voices could be found throughout the Southern states calling for the liberalization of state policy toward blacks—even in Mississippi, whose code was the most stringent. The Columbus Sentinel described the architects of the restrictive code as a “shallow-headed majority more anxious to make capital at home than to propitiate the powers at Washington. . . . They are as complete a set of political Goths as were ever turned loose to work destruction upon a State. The fortunes of the whole South have been injured by their folly.” Other state papers took a similar view, including the Jackson Clarion and the Vicksburg Herald.
Even though Union generals Grant and Sherman declared the South loyal and deserving of prompt readmission to the Union, some still claimed that the South was not completely loyal. One of Thaddeus Stevens’s friends professed shock that “while they acknowledge themselves whipped and profess future loyalty. . . Confederate Generals are their heroes—Confederate bravery, and endurance under difficulties, their pride and boast—Confederate dead their martyrs. . . . In all the stores of Richmond . . . I did not see the picture of a single Union general or politician, but any number of Rebels.” Yet President Johnson, who had never sympathized with secession and had always been a Union man, nevertheless understood why a defeated people would have honored its heroes. “A people should be allowed to grumble who have suffered so much,” said Johnson, “and they would be unworthy of the name of men if they did not respect the brave officers who have suffered with them, and honor the memory of their gallant dead who sleep on a hundred battlefields around their homes.” Such remarks, of course, only further alienated Johnson from the Radicals.
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