The first reconstruction legislature met on the 16th of October 1865, and at once proceeded to enact stringent vagrancy laws and other measures against the freedmen; these laws the North 1 South Carolina ceded its western lands to the United States in 1787 and Georgia in 1802.
The causes for a divorce are adultery, incompetency, conviction of a felony and sentence to imprisonment therefor after marriage, conviction of a felony or infamous crime before marriage provided it was unknown to the other party, habitual drunkenness, extreme cruelty, intolerable indignities, neglect of the husband to provide the common necessaries of life, vagrancy of the husband and pregnancy of the wife before marriage by another man than her husband and without his knowledge.
Penalty for vagrancy rose over the years from time served in stocks, to whipping, to branding, and then to death.
A considerable number were flogged under the Vagrancy Acts (39 Eliz.
But both the convention and legislature incurred the suspicion and ill-will of Congress; the convention had congratulated the president on his policy, memorialized him on behalf of Jefferson Davis, and provided pensions for disabled Confederate soldiers and the widows of those who had lost their lives during the war, while the legislature passed apprenticeship, labour and vagrancy laws to protect and regulate the negroes, and rejected the Fourteenth Amendment.
Eighty-three per cent of the annual convictions, summarily and on indictment, followed by committal to gaol, are for misconduct that is distinctly non-criminal, such as breaches of municipal by-laws and police regulations, drunkenness, gaming and offences under the vagrancy acts.
Action in this case was optional, but after an interval of fifteen years the Police Act of 1856 made the rule compulsory, it being found that an efficient police force throughout England and Wales was necessary for the more effectual prevention and detection of crime, the suppression of vagrancy and the maintenance of good order.
But the passage, by the legislature, of vagrancy and apprenticeship laws designed to control the negroes who were flocking from the plantations to the cities, and its rejection of the fourteenth amendment, so intensified the congressional hostility to the presidential plan that the Alabama senators and representatives were denied their seats in Congress.
The principal grounds for divorce are impotence, bigamy, adultery, conviction of felony or other infamous crime subsequent to the marriage or before the marriage if unknown to the other party, desertion or habitual drunkenness for one year, such cruel or barbarous treatment as to endanger the life of the other, such conduct as to render the condition of the other intolerable, and vagrancy of the husband; but before applying for a divorce the plaintiff must reside in the state for one year immediately preceding, unless the cause of action was given within the state or while the plaintiff was a resident of the state.