Item No: #361691 General Orders No. 99 [Regulations for Enslaved People in the New Orleans Jail]. Geo. C. Strong.

New Union Regulations for Enslaved Persons in the New Orleans Jail

General Orders No. 99 [Regulations for Enslaved People in the New Orleans Jail]

Notes: An order from the Union Army in charge of New Orleans implementing new rules for enslaved people held in the jail. At the time of the Union occupation of New Orleans, slaves could be imprisoned for committing crimes, but their enslavers could also hire them out to the municipal work gang and they would be housed in the jail as inmates when they were not working (see Records of Correctional Institutions in the City Archives, New Orleans Public Library).

The new orders printed here required enslavers to pre-pay the costs of imprisoning their slaves, "the slave to be released when the money is exhausted." Any enslaved person whose cost of maintenance is not paid within 10 days should "be discharged." The explanation turned the logic of slavery on itself, reflecting the weak hold enslavers had on their human property following the publication of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and in light of the protections offered to enslaved people by the occupying Union forces: "This course is taken in all countries with debtors confined by creditors, and slaves have not such commercial value in New Orleans as to justify their being held and fed by the city, relying on any supposed lien upon the slave." This was also a way for the army to avoid being forced to sell enslaved persons to cover their unpaid jail debts.

This is a very scarce general order from New Orleans which helps illustrate the contradictions faced by the Union forces during the Civil War. They were inclined to treat the enslaved as people but were still operating under state laws that made them property. The University of Michigan has a bound volume of orders 1 to 84. The only copy your cataloguer could locate of this order no. 99 is in a bound volume of Department of the Gulf general orders held by the British Library.

One page, printed on a single sheet folded to make four pages (three blanks). This conforms to the copy at the British Library. 5-1/4 by 8-1/8 inches.

Edition + Condition: A fine copy.

Publication: New Orleans: Headquarters, Department of the Gulf, 1862.

Item No: #361691

Price: $500