Ordinance by the Board of Police of Opelousas, Louisiana, as Printed in a New Orleans Newspaper

[New Orleans, La., July 15, 1865]

Ordinance
[RELATIV]E TO THE POLICE OF RECENTLY [EM]ANCIPATED NEGROES OR FREED[M]EN, WITHIN THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE TOWN OF OPELOUSAS.


Whereas the relations formerly subsis[ti]ng between master and slave have b[e]come changed by the action of the controlling authorities; and whereas it i[s] necessary to provide for the proper police and government of the recently emancipated negroes or freedmen, in their new relations to the municipal authorities;

Sect. 1. Be it therefore ordained by [t]he Board of Police of the Town of Ope[l]ousas: That no negro or freedman shall be allowed to come within the limits of the Town of Opelousas, without special permission from his employer, specifying the object of his visit, and the time necessary for the accomplishment of the same.  Whoever shall violate this provision, shall suffer imprisonment and two days work on the public streets, or shall pay a fine of two dollars and fifty cents.

Sect. 2. Be it further ordained that every negro or freedman who shall be found on the streets of Opelousas, after 10 o'clock at night, without a written pass or permit from his employer, shall be imprisoned and compelled to work five days on the public streets, or pay a fine of five dollars.

Sect. 3. No negro or freedman shall be permitted to rent or keep a house within the limits of the town under any circumstances, and any one thus offending, shall be ejected and compelled to find an employer, or leave the town within twenty-four hours.  The lessor or furnisher of the house leased or kept as above, shall pay a fine of ten dollars for each offense.

Sect. 4. No negro or freedman shall reside within the limits of the Town of Opelousas, who is not in the regular service of some white person or former owner, who shall be held responsible for the conduct of said freedman.  But said employer or former owner may permit said freedman to hire his time, by special permission in writing, which permission shall not extend over twenty-four hours at any one time.  Any one violating the provisions of this section, shall be imprisoned and forced to work for two days on the public streets.

Sect. 5. No public meetings or congregations of negroes or freedmen, shall be allowed within the limits of the Town of Opelousas, under any circumstances or for any purpose, without the permission of the Mayor or President of the Board.  This prohibition is not intended, however, to prevent freedmen from attending the usual Church services conducted by established ministers of religion.  Every freedman violating this law shall be imprisoned and made to work five days on the public streets.

Sect. 6. No negro or freedman shall be permitted to preach, exhort or otherwise declaim, to congregations of colored people, without a special permission from the Mayor or President of the Board of Police, under the penalty of a fine of ten dollars or twenty days work on the public streets.

Sect. 7. No freedman, who is not in the military service, shall be allowed to carry fire-arms or any kind of weapons, within the limits of the Town of Opelousas, without the special permission of his employer in writing, and approved by the Mayor or President of the Board of Police.  Any one thus offending shall forfeit his weapons and shall be imprisoned and made to work five days on the public streets, or pay a fine of five dollars in lieu of said work.

Sect. 8. No freedman shall sell, barter or exchange any articles of merchandise or traffic, within the limits of Opelousas, without permission in writing from his employer or the Mayor or President of the Board, under the penalty of the forfeiture of said articles, and imprisonment and one day's labor, or a fine of one dollar in lieu of said work.

Sect. 9. Any freedman found drunk within the limits of the town shall be imprisoned and made to labor five days on the public streets, or pay five dollars in lieu of said labor.

Sect. 10. Any freedman not residing in Opelousas, who shall be found within its corporate limits after the hour of 3 o'clock P.M. on Sunday, without a special written permission from his employer or the Mayor, shall be arrested and imprisoned and made to work two days on the public streets, or pay two dollars in lieu of said work.

Sect. 11. All the foregoing provisions apply to freed men and freed women, or both sexes.

Sect. 12. It shall be the special duty of the Mayor or President of the Board, to see that all the provisions of this ordinance are faithfully executed.

Sect. 13. Be it further ordained, Th[at] this ordinance to take effect from [and] after its first publication.

Ordained the 3d day of July, 186[5.],
E. D. ESTILLETT[E]  
President of the Board of Po[lice.]

JOS. D. RICHARD, Clerk.

Newspaper clippings of an ordinance by the board of police of Opelousas, Louisiana [New Orleans Tribune, 15 July 1865], attached to Colonel S. M. Quincy to Lieut Col. J. M. Wilson, [27 July 1865], Q-4 1865, Letters Received, series 1757, Department of LA & TX, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. The ordinance is in the form of newspaper clippings affixed to the reverse of the first four pages of the letter that is printed in Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 240–43; passages in the clippings that were underlined by hand are printed in italics.

Published in Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 237–39.