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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
History of Louisiana

Charles Gayarré

in the edition published by
William J. Widdleton,
New York, 1867

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Second Item from the Appendix
to the Third Series of Lectures

 p361  Regulations of Police.

We Pierre Rigaut, Marquis of Vaudreuil, Governor of the Province of Louisiana, and Honoré Michel de la Rouvillière, the King's Counselor, Commissary-General of the Marine Department, and Intendant in this Province, decree in the name of the King:

Art. 1.

From the day of the publication of these present regulations, all persons, whatever may be their social condition, and under any pretext whatever, even with permission from our predecessors, which we annul, are prohibited from distributing any intoxicating beverage, whatever may be its nature, and from allowing it to be used for drinking at their respective houses, or even to be carried away in large or small measures; and any person, contravening this provision  p362 of our ordinance, shall be sentenced to be imprisoned for one month, to pay ten crowns in favor of the poor, and to have all the liquors found at his house confiscated on behalf of the king's treasury.

Art. 2.

There shall be established six taverns in the town of New Orleans, under licenses to be issued to that effect.

Art. 3.

The keepers of these six taverns are permitted to supply with wine or spirits no other persons than travellers, sick people, the inhabitants, and seafaring men; and this they must do with the requisite moderation. We forbid them to furnish these articles to a soldier, under the severest penalties, and to Indians and Negroes, under the penalty of paying a fine of ten crowns, of being sentenced to the pillory, and of forfeiting by confiscation all the wines and liquors found in the house and shop of the offender; and should there be a repetition of said offence, said offender shall be sentenced to the galleys for life.

Art. 4.

We also forbid tavern-keepers, under the penalty of losing their privileges as such, to retail refreshments on Sundays and other holidays, during divine worship.

Art. 5.

We also decree that said taverns shall be closed, under arbitrary penalties, at nine in the evening of every day, and, after that time, that no one be entertained in said taverns.

Art. 6.

Said tavern-keepers shall pay for their privilege, each, the sum of two hundred livres to the ecclesiastical treasury of this parish, which needs very much such relief, and also the additional sum of one hundred livres, for the maintenance of the poor of this town, who are in a great state of destitution.

Art. 7.

There shall also be granted the privilege of keeping two liquor shops, the one to the Major in command of New Orleans, and the other to the officer commanding the Swiss company. One of these shops, shall be appropriated to the French soldiers, and the other  p363 to the Swiss — so that the military shall drink at the places only designated for them: and the inhabitants, travellers, and seafaring-men, shall no more be received in these liquor shops, than the soldiers shall be received in the other taverns, which they must not even approach. The soldiers, however, must not be forced into going to drink at any one of these two liquor shops; but they must do so of their own free will; and the keepers of said shops, should they give any thing to drink to the inhabitants, travellers, seafaring-men, Indians, and Negroes, shall under go the same penalties inflicted on the other tavern-keepers in the 3d article of this ordinance.

Art. 8.

Whereas we have been informed that certain individuals, instead of improving their lands by cultivation, have come to the town of New Orleans, or have removed to certain localities in the rural districts of this province, in order to establish pot-houses therein, by which means, they do not only tempt the fidelity of the slaves, but also induce them to rob their masters by giving them intoxicating liquors in exchange for the produce of their pilferings, we request all the honest planters to watch the deportment of these individuals in the country, in order to make us acquainted with the disorders of which they are the authors, so that we may punish them with the rigor prescribed by the ordinances.

Art. 9.

In order to check the disorders in New Orleans originating in the increased multiplicity of taverns which have been established therein without permission, we decree, that eight days from and after the date of the present publication, all the inhabitants of the German Parish, and of other parishes, who have abandoned their lands to come and settle here, shall return to their former places of residence, under the penalty of being treated as vagrants and perturbers of the public peace, and therefore driven away from the country as people of an infamous character.

Art. 10.

All free Negroes and Negresses, living either in the purlieus of this town or in its vicinity, who may become guilty of harboring slaves, in order to seduce them and excite them to plunder their masters, and lead a scandalous life, shall lose their freedom and become the slaves of the king. We beg his majesty to make them  p364 part of his domain, by paying per head, for every one of them, five hundred livres, to be applied to the restoration of the church of this parish, which stands in extreme need of such repairs.

Art. 11.

Any Frenchman who shall be so infamous as to become guilty of the offence described in the preceding article, shall be whipped by the public executioner, and, without mercy, be sentenced to end his life on the king's galleys, etc.

* * * * * * * *

Art. 17.

Any individual who shall buy from a slave any object whatever, without a specific written permission from the master of said slave, shall be sentenced, for the first offence, to the pillory, and, for the next, shall be condemned to serve on the king's galleys for life.

* * * * * * * *

Art. 19.

It having always been the intention of his Majesty that every individual, on his plantation or elsewhere, should punish his Negroes with moderation, as a kind father would correct his children; and most of the inhabitants of this colony having misunderstood the king's wishes on this subject, and overlooking in their slaves such faults as are too important not to be repressed, we cannot recommend too much to the owners of slaves, to be more energetic in checking their disorders, and to chastise them without passion on all proper occasions. We give them notice that, if we discover any undue laxity in the exercise of the authority herein mentioned, we shall cause the slaves whom they treat with too much lenity, to be seized and punished with exemplary severity.

Art. 20.

We forbid all the inhabitants or citizens of this colony to permit on their plantations, or at other places of residence, or elsewhere, any assembly of Negroes or Negresses, either under the pretext of dancing, or for any other cause, that is to say, excepting the Negroes whom they may own themselves. We also forbid them to allow  p365 their slaves to go out of their plantations or premises for similar purposes, because his Majesty has prohibited all assemblies of the kind.

Art. 21.

We also forbid the town and country Negroes to assemble in the town of New Orleans, or in its vicinity, or elsewhere, under any pretext whatever, under the penalty, of said Negroes, of being imprisoned and whipped, and, besides, under the penalty, for the masters, of a fine of ten livres, for every Negro who may have assembled with said master's consent.

Art. 22.

Should any inhabitant or citizen of the province permit on his plantation or premises an assembly of Negroes other than his own, under any pretext whatever, he shall, for the first offence, pay one hundred crowns to the treasury of the church, and shall, for the next offence of the kind, be sentenced to work for life on the King's galleys.

Art. 23.

Any Negro who shall be met in the streets or public roads, carrying a cane, a rod, or a stick, shall be chastised by the first white man who shall meet him, with the very same instrument found in the possession of said Negro; and should said Negro be daring enough to defend himself or run away, it shall be the duty of the white man to denounce the fact, in order that the black man be punished according to the exigencies of the case.

Art. 24.

Any Negro or any slave, proceeding either on foot or on horseback in the streets of New Orleans, or on the public roads, during the day, and particularly during the night, shall be stopped by any white person meeting said Negro or other slave, in order to inquire for his written pass; and should said slave endeavor to escape, we exhort the citizen, cognizant of the fact, to endeavor to know who that slave may be, and to denounce him, so as to have him punished according to his desert.

Art. 25.

Whereas Negroes break down all the horses of the colony by using them immoderately, and by stealing them, not only out of  p366 parks, but also out of their stables; and whereas this is infinitely injurious to the agricultural labors of the colony and to the interests of individuals, we permit said negroes to be shot at when they are thus met on horseback, and when they refuse to stop on their being hailed.

Art. 26.

Being informed that the negroes of the town are so licentious as to come out, at night, of the houses of their masters, which they leave abandoned and open, and thereby exposed to all sorts of casualties, in order to assemble with those of the country, who come prowling through the town, to commit every kind of malfeasances, and to be drinking at the taverns, to the amount of what they can obtain for what objects they have stolen from the public and from their masters; we exhort and even order all the citizens carefully to watch these nocturnal excesses, to which our police shall be actively alive; and if, through our combined efforts we can discover the authors of such iniquities, the severe justice which shall be administered to them shall intimidate all others who may be disposed to produce such scandalous disorders. The inhabitants of the country may powerfully contribute to put an end to this state of things, by retaining their negroes on their respective plantations.

* * * * * * * *

Art. 28.

Any negro or other slave, either in town or in the country, who shall fail in the respect and submission which he owes to white people — that is to say, who may be so insolent as to elbow them on the high roads and public ways, and who, finally, forgetting that he is a slave, shall offend them in any way whatsoever, shall be punished with fifty lashes, and shall be branded with the flower de Luceº on his back (sur la fesse),a in order to make known, in case of need, the nature of his crime.

Art. 29.

All the negroes and other slaves who go to church, shall attend the first mass said in the morning. In the country they shall be led to church by the overseer of each gang, who shall take them back immediately after divine worship is over; and should there be servants in the habit of following their masters to any other  p367 mass than the first one in the morning, said servants shall stop at the door of the church, and wait there for their masters, under the penalty of being chastised.

Art. 30.

We have just explained the respect and obligations due by the blacks to the whites, and particularly to their masters. But it is proper to inform the public that this does not apply indifferently to everybody. A private person, a soldier, or any other individual, has not the right to ill-treat a negro who is guilty of no offence towards him. In certain cases, the person offended may arrest him, and ask that he may be dealt with according to the dictates of justice, because the negro is subject only to the police regulations of the country and to the tribunal of his own master. Consequently, and in compliance with the orders of his Majesty, we forbid that any one should take the liberty to ill-treat slaves; and for any violation of this prohibition, the person so offending shall undergo an arbitrary punishment, according to the circumstances of the case.

Thayer's Note:

a The French phrase, properly translated: "on the buttock".

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