Free Negro

A free Negro or free black is the term used prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States to describe African Americans who were not slaves. Almost all African Americans came to the United States as slaves, but from the earliest days of American slavery, men and women were set free for various reasons. Sometimes an owner died and the heirs did not want slaves, or a slave was freed as reward for his or her good service, or the slave was able to pay in order to be freed. [" [http://www.issues-views.com/index.php/sect/1006/article/1093 Freed In the 17th Century] " Reprinted from Issues & Views Spring 1998] Free blacks in the antebellum period--those years from the formation of the Union until the Civil War--were quite outspoken about the injustice of slavery." [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart2.html Free Blacks in the Antebellum Period] "]

Free blacks in America were first documented in Northampton County, Virginia, in 1662. By 1776, approximately 8 percent of African Americans were free. By 1810, 4 percent of blacks in the South and 75 percent of blacks in the North were free. On the eve of the American Civil War, 10 percent of African Americans nationwide, close to half a million people, were free. ["Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience" By Anthony Appiah, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis Gates Page 299]

Black men enlisted as soldiers and fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Some owned land, homes, businesses, and paid taxes. In some Northern cities, for brief periods of time, black property owners voted. Blacks were also outspoken in print. Freedom's Journal, the first black-owned newspaper, appeared in 1827. This paper and other early writings by blacks fueled the attack against slavery and racist conceptions about the intellectual inferiority of African Americans....]

Free blacks were often mixed-race people; many were born in North America. A half-white "free Negro" was called a mulatto (male) or a mulatress (female). "Negro" is a Portuguese and Spanish term that means "black." The term colored was ubiquitously employed by 1820 to describe mixed-race "free Negroes".

In Virginia and North Carolina, most free negro families were the descendants of white servant women who had children by slaves or free African Americans." [http://www.common-place.org/vol-05/no-01/heinegg-hoff/index.shtml Freedom in the Archives] " Paul Heinegg and Henry B. Hoff.] Very few families that were free, perhaps as low as 1 percent of the total, descended from white slave owners who had children by their slaves. Under the law of partus, male slave-owners were not required to free their children by their slaves. Many free African American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia were landowners...] Some of them became slave owners themselves. For example, a freedman named Cyprian Ricard purchased an estate in Louisiana owning 100 slaves. [ cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=8qMc-y3ya9UC&pg=RA1-PA234&lpg=RA1-PA234&dq=cyprian+ricard+louisiana&source=web&ots=tTDmSc5lwa&sig=lHuu78lMvbrZ3-6zQFIqxKykjxI |title=Slavery: A World History |accessdate=2007-10-16 |last=Meltzer |first=Milton |publisher = DaCapo | date = 1993 | isbn=0306805367] [cite book
last = Franklin
first = John Hope
coauthors = Moss, Alfred A.
title = From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans
publisher = McGraw-Hill
date = 1994
pages = p. 156
isbn = 978-0679430872
]

References


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