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tage the children born of said slaves, during their term of administration, whom we direct to be maintained and given up to those who are their owners and proprietors.
ARTICLE L.-Masters of the age of twenty-five years may manumit their slaves by any act between the living, or causa mortis: and meantime as masters are often found sufficiently mercenary to fix the liberty of their slaves at a certain price, frequently leading them thereby to commit theft and robbery, we prohibit all persons, of what rank or condition soever, from affranchising their slaves without having obtained permission therefor by decree from our said Superior Council, which permission shall be granted without cost, when the reasons assigned by the master appear legitimate. We pronounce manumissions made in future without these permissions void, and the persons manumitted incapable of profiting by them, or being recognised as free: We ordain, on the contrary, that they may be held, accounted, and reputed, slaves— that their masters may be deprived of them, and they be confiscated to the benefit of the Indies Company.
ARTICLE LI.-We decree, nevertheless, that slaves who shall have been appointed by their masters guardians of their children, may be considered and accounted as we consider and account those for persons affranchised.
ARTICLE LII.--We declare affranchisements made according to the forms heretofore prescribed, to be equivalent to nativity in our said Province of Louisiana; and that the persons so affranchised do not require our letters of naturalization in order to enjoy the privileges of the native born subjects of our kingdom, lands, and countries within our sovereignty, although they be born in foreign lands. We nevertheless declare the aforesaid affranchised persons, together with the free negroes, incapable of receiving from the whites any gift, as between the living, causa mortis, or otherwise: Decreeing that if any should be made, they are void, and they may be appropriated to the nearest hospital.
ARTICLE LIII.- We command affranchised persons to act with the greatest respect towards their former masters, to
wards their widows, and towards their children; insomuch that any injury they may do them shall be punished more severely than if committed against any other persons; the directors being always free and clear as regards them of all other charges, duties, and profitable services to which their former masters would have laid claim, as well upon their persons as upon their goods and inheritances, in the relation of masters.
ARTICLE LIV.-We grant to persons affranchised the same rights, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by those born free: Decreeing that the blessings of liberty thus purchased, shall effect for them, as well with respect to their persons as their property, the same objects that result from the advantage of natural freedom to our other subjects: and all this, notwithstanding the exceptions specified in Article fifty-second of these presents.
ARTICLE LV.We declare those confiscations and fines of which no particular appropriation has been made by these presents, to belong to the said Indies Company - to be paid over to those who superintend the receipt of the taxes and revenues: Decreeing, nevertheless, that one third part of said confiscations and fines be set apart for the benefit of the hospital nearest the place where they shall have been decreed.
So we proclaim as a mandate to our well-beloved and trusty servants composing our Superior Council in Louisiana, that they cause these presents to be read, published, and registered, to guard what is contained therein, and observe them according to their form and tenor -- all ordinances, declarations, decrees, regulations, and usages to the contrary notwithstanding, which we have repealed, and do hereby repeal, by these presents. For such is our pleasure. And in order that this may be made firm and binding, we have caused our seal to be affixed thereto.Given at Versailles, in the month of March, in the year of Grace one thousand seven hundred and twentyfour.--Signed, Louis." *
*Le Code Noir ou Recueil de Reglemens, p. 281.
The pacific relations which were maintained between England and France, from 1713 to 1744, were favorable to the growth of the French and English colonies in North America; but the grasping policy of the Indies Company was strongly opposed and often frustrated by the Spaniards of Florida, and by the Indian tribes who inhabited the country on the borders of the river Mississippi, south of the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude. In 1729, the French settlements at Natchez, and those on the Yazoo and Washita, were destroyed by the Natchez Indians. These settlements, collectively, comprised within their limits about seven hundred colonists, "of whom scarcely enough survived to carry the tidings of the destruction to the capital."* In the course of the next year, 1730, the Natchez nation of Indians was exterminated by the French. Hundreds were massacred; a few sought refuge among the Chickasaws and were adopted by that tribe, and many were taken and reduced to slavery. These acts of injustice and oppression were the last memorable events that signalized the administration of the Indies Company in North America.
When the Indies Company gave up their charter, on the 10th of April, 1732, France resumed the government of Louisiana. The Governor-General, and the Intendant of the Province, jointly, were authorized to grant lands to settlers; and all concessions or grants of lands which were made without the sanction of these officers were void. M. D’Artuguiette was appointed “commandant-general for the king, for the province of Illinois," and a small military force was stationed at Fort Chartres. A code of laws, entitled the Common law of Paris, was nominally, but never effectively, extended over the district of Illinois. Many parts of that code were inapplicable to the unsettled state of the colony; and, even those general laws which were applicable to the condition of the people, were not enforced with strictness, nor with uniformity. The commandants, at the different posts, exercised an arbitrary authority over the French population within their respective jurisdictions; but the government which was administered by these officers was neither oppressive nor complex.
The Indies Company had engaged in the prosecution of its designs many men of education, talents, and enterprise. After the failure of the projects of the company, some of this class of adventurers returned to France; some established their residence at New Orleans; others settled in Canada; and a very small number remained in the Illinois country. The more numerous class of colonists who had been attracted to this district was composed of indigent and illiterate persons. Few of them had come prepared for either agricultural or commercial pursuits, “and when the dreams of sudden wealth, with which they had been deluded, faded from before them, they were not disposed to engage in the ordinary employments of enlightened industry. The few who were engaged in mercantile pursuits, turned their attention almost exclusively to the traffic with the Indians, while a large number became hunters and boatmen."*
The Chickasaws had for a long time obstinately opposed the advancement of the French settlements on the Mississippi between New Orleans and the Illinois; and the hostility of this tribe of Indians constituted one of the principal obstacles which prevented a regular and safe communication between Canada and the southern settlements of Lcuisiana. The French authorities of these Provinces therefore determined to concentrate a strong military force in the country of the Chickasaws, in order to subdue the power of that hostile tribe. In the year 1736, about two hundred French and four hundred Indians,t under the command of M. D'Artuguiette, moved from the place of rendezvous in the Illinois district, and passed down the Mississippi, to form a junction with another military force which had been recruited under Bienville, at the south. Francis Morgan de Vincennes, who was an officer of the king's troops, and a commandant of a small post on the river Wabash, accompanied the expedition under D'Artuguiette. The party commanded by Bienville did not reach the place of rendezvous at the time which had been appointed to form a junction with the Illinois forces, and D’Artuguiette and Vincennes, without waiting for the arrival of the expected reinforcement, commenced hostilities by attacking and destroying some small villages which were inhabited by a few of the hostile Indians. The Chickasaw warriors soon assembled in considerable numbers, and defeated their assailants. About forty Frenchmen and eight of their Indian allies were killed in the conflict; and many of the invading party were captured and afterwards burnt at the stake. Among those who perished in this expedition was M. de Vincennes, “who ceased not until his last
fHolmes' Annals, ii, 8.--Bancroft, ili, 367, says about fifty French soldiers, and more than a thousand red men."