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Article

Jacob Andrew Freedman

farmer and entrepreneur, was born near Canton, Mississippi, the only child of Wesley Rutledge and Anne Maben. Rutledge was the nephew of William H. Goodlow, the owner of the estate where Anne Maben was a house slave. Wesley worked as the manager of the house for his aunt and uncle. At birth Bond was given the surname Winfield, and at the age of eighteen months he was sent with his mother to Collierville, Tennessee, where they lived until he was five years old. Subsequently, they were sent to work on the Bond farm in Cross County, Arkansas. In Arkansas Anne Maben met and married William Bond, who gave Scott Bond his surname.

The family remained on the Bond farm until the conclusion of the Civil War when only months after gaining her freedom Anne Maben died leaving Bond in the care of his stepfather Bond his stepfather ...

Article

Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician, businessman, and writer, was born in Madison County, Kentucky, the youngest of fifteen children of Eliza and Edwin, who were slaves. Burton and his mother remained on the plantation after Emancipation as paid laborers, and he continued working at the “old homestead” after her death in 1869 until he was sixteen, at which time he left following an altercation with the owner.

In 1880 Burton was “converted to God” and subsequently experienced an insatiable desire for learning. Despite discouraging comments from those who thought that twenty was too old to start school, Burton was not dissuaded and determined that nothing was going to prevent him from getting an education except sickness or death. Burton worked for one more year as a farmhand in Richmond, Kentucky. One January morning in 1881 he put a few items in a carpetbag and nine dollars and seventy five cents in his ...

Article

John W. Pulis and David Simonelli

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the Caribbean from 1492 through 1895 The first article discusses the Caribbean slave trade the transmission of cultural identities and the Caribbean s influence on North America while the second article discusses the 1834 emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean and annual ...

Article

Class  

Graham Russell Hodges

The discussion of class among African Americans in the centuries before the industrial revolution encountered significant conceptual difficulties Did class as the philosopher Karl Marx described it exist among a people who were almost entirely enslaved African Americans were industrial laborers in parts of the early United States but the vast majority were agricultural workers whose skills and statuses seem superficially to have been interchangeable At the same time the great transformation occurring in white society from feudalism to capitalism entailed the commodification of money land and labor African Americans lives were inextricably entwined in each of these changes Undoubtedly exploitation helped create the capital value of landowner and merchant African Americans also made themselves African American slaves can be viewed as the first true proletarians in America A leading scholar of early African American business argues cogently that race not class was the key variable for African Americans Examination ...

Article

Franklin W. Knight

The term coartación was used in Spain's American colonies to denote the practice of establishing a fixed price at which any slave could purchase his or her freedom on an installment plan. Theoretically this insulated the market mechanism of self-purchase from the individual whim of the master, but theory and practice were not necessarily reconciled in the American world of masters and slaves. Thus the custom varied considerably throughout the Americas (with equivalents existing in the non-Hispanic slave colonies) based on population mix, the nature of the economy, and its demand for slave labor, as well as the locally prevailing mores of masters and slaves.

Exactly when the term established itself in association with Spanish-American slavery is not clear. By the eighteenth century it had entered legal and political discourse. Fernando Ortiz suggests that coartación first appeared in Spanish laws in 1712 It formed an important part of the ...

Article

Paul Finkelman and David Quigley

Slavery appeared early in the history of colonial Connecticut. Records indicate that in 1639 an enslaved African was killed by his Dutch owner in Hartford. Unlike Massachusetts and Rhode Island, however, Connecticut conducted its colonial slave trade with merchants and sailors playing only minor roles.

Connecticut's African American population clustered in a few port towns. Almost one-half of all blacks in the colony in 1774 lived in the coastal counties of New London and Fairfield. In that year 49 percent of Connecticut blacks were under the age of twenty, a substantially lower percentage than that of the colony's white community. Across New England, colonial African Americans had low birth rates.

Connecticut stood apart from the rest of the New England colonies in the intensity of its restrictions on the free black community. In 1718 the colonial assembly passed a law denying blacks the right to buy land and enacted ...

Article

Kevin D. Roberts

The demographics of African Americans in early America were influenced significantly by the transatlantic and domestic slave trades, the westward and southwestward expansion of slavery, and steadily improving rates of natural increase. From 1619, when the first Africans arrived in colonial America, to 1830, when the black enslaved population numbered 2 million, a significant social and cultural shift from African-dominated communities to native-born communities occurred.

In 1619 the demographic phenomenon that became black America began in Virginia when “twenty-odd Negroes” arrived on a Dutch sloop. Accorded the status of indentured servants, these Africans planted the roots that would later flower into thousands of black descendants. The first person of African descent to be born in the American colonies, a child named William, was born in 1624. By 1649 a census conducted in the colony enumerated three hundred people of African descent almost all of whom were ...

Article

Teri A. McMurtry-Chubb and William Pencak

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with discrimination against African Americans from the early seventeenth century through 1895 The first article discusses the evolution of federal laws and abusive perceptions that disenfranchised African Americans to 1830 while the second article discusses the development of separate institutions and organizations through ...

Article

Peter Eisenstadt and Graham Russell Hodges

Work has always characterized African American life in the Americas From the first arrivals in the 1610s blacks came or were brought to the New World to labor During the seventeenth century Africans in North America initially free but later largely enslaved were important workers in subsistence economies In the eighteenth century as the American economy matured enslaved blacks labored in staple crop agriculture in seaboard trades or as skilled assistants in small scale industry During the American Revolution a significant fraction toiled in the military services while most continued in their former roles After the Revolution with the massive growth of the cotton industry many blacks in the South became agricultural workers with a few in urban areas turning to the arts while in the upper South enslaved people worked in cereal agriculture Blacks in the North faced a long term crisis as rising immigration from northern Europe forced ...

Article

Toni Ahrens and Paul Finkelman

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the emancipation of slaves from before the American Revolution through the ratification of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865 The first article discusses the various means by which African Americans could gain freedom up to 1830 while the second article provides an overview ...

Article

Robin Blackburn

In Roman society emancipation was the process whereby a son or daughter left the power of the father. In modern parlance the term emancipation refers to the ending of any state of oppression or bondage, with particular reference to legislative acts abolishing the slave status and condition. In medieval and early modern Europe slavery became marginal, vestigial, and even, in several kingdoms, extinct. Slaves were manumitted by their masters, or, more exceptionally, they escaped to a free city like Toulouse, where they could claim their freedom after a year. However, the fragmented and layered sovereignty of the medieval polities meant that there was no general slave emancipation, in the sense of legislation freeing all slaves and banning slavery.

With the development of new slave systems in the Americas from the sixteenth and seventeenth century there were occasions when slaves were freed by purchase or as a reward In the eighteenth ...

Article

Richard S. Newman and Roland Barksdale-Hall

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with African American entrepreneurs and their businesses from the Colonial period through 1895 The first article discusses the first African American entrepreneurs through 1830 and their long term impact while the second article discusses the successes failures and obstacles of African American entrepreneurs ...

Article

Matthew Dennis

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” These simple words, contained in the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed on 4 July 1776, turned out to be as much promise and provocation as declaration. The implications of the Declaration's language, and the political potency of Independence Day itself, did not go unnoticed among African Americans and their supporters. Instantly in 1776Lemuel Haynes, a twenty-three-year-old black minuteman from western Massachusetts, cited the Declaration's key lines in an antislavery essay and wrote, “I think it not hyperbolical to affirm that Even an affrican has Equally as good a right to his Liberty in common with Englishmen.”

Article

With the emergence of free African American communities in the urban United States during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, blacks formed fraternal organizations and mutual aid societies to meet a number of pressing needs. One scholar estimates that as of 1840, more than two hundred organizations were spread across the nation's largest cities, with a membership conservatively estimated at ten thousand. Like many whites during the early years of the Republic, blacks sought ways to integrate themselves into a rapidly changing world. Black organizers in urban American, however, faced a unique set of challenges. They tried to meet the physical and social challenges to a community striving to realize the fruits of emancipation while responding to a largely hostile white population's antagonism to interracial citizenship, let alone fellowship and mutual assistance.

The leadership of African American organizations often overlapped with and sometimes preceded black religious institutions Associations ...

Article

By 1804 all states in the northern United States had moved to end slavery through gradual emancipation laws, judicial decisions, or the inclusion of the prohibition of slavery in their new state constitutions. As a result, the population of free African Americans in the northern states grew steadily in the decades before the Civil War. Continued growth of the free black population resulted not only from state-level emancipation but also from individual grants of manumission, in-migration of free blacks from the South, the arrival of fugitive slaves, and of course, natural increase. At the turn of the nineteenth century the free African American population of the northern states was approximately 47,000; by 1860 it had grown to over 225,000.

The four northern states with the largest free black populations before the Civil War were Pennsylvania New York Ohio and New Jersey In these states and across the North free blacks ...

Article

Gad J. Heuman

The term freed persons in slave societies denoted men and women who were black or of mixed race (called “brown” in this article) and born free or manumitted. More specific gendered terms to describe this group include freedmen and freedwomen; in addition, free colored is used when discussing men and women of mixed race, and free black when referring specifically to blacks. Slaves gained their freedom by self-purchase or were manumitted by their owners. In addition, the state manumitted some slaves who uncovered potential rebellions or fought on its behalf.

In early American colonial slave societies the number of freed persons was small because freed persons were an unintended byproduct of slave societies Many of them were the offspring of liaisons between white males and black and subsequently brown females and whites sometimes freed their brown children as well as the slave women who produced them These sexual relationships ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

former slave and narrator, was the youngest of thirteen children born to a slave woman in Powhatan, Virginia, probably in the late 1830s. All that is known about Garlic appears in a 1937 Federal Writers' Project (FWP) interview she gave in Fruithurst, Alabama, when she claimed to be one hundred years old. In that interview Garlic provides one of the most searing indictments of life under slavery in the nearly twenty-five hundred FWP interviews of former slaves. As in many Works Progress Administration narratives, Garlic's interviewer transcribed her speech in a dialect that somewhat exaggerates the rhythm and syntax of southern Black English.

Delia Garlic never knew eleven of her siblings or her father When Delia was an infant she her mother and her brother William were taken by slave speculators to Richmond Virginia where they were kept in a warehouse before being placed on an auction block Delia ...

Article

Gender  

Maria Elena Raymond

Gender roles in enslaved African American families in the United States before the Civil War were many and varied. Beliefs and traditions handed down through African family lineages; the pressures of environmental conditions (including geographical locations); British and American slaveholder practices in the treatment of their “property”; the forced separation of husbands from wives, parents from children, brothers from sisters; local politics and resulting laws with regard to the enslaved; the personal beliefs of individual slaveholders; and changing economic patterns were among the factors determining gender roles.

Throughout colonial American times the slave population increasingly consisted not of Africans but of African Americans The creation of an African American culture replete with evolving gender roles stemmed not only from African generational heritage but also from the influence of the British American world Enslaved African American people and their families were forced to adapt to constantly shifting pressures and drew upon ...

Article

Liz Stephens

cowboy and trail-driver on the Goodnight-Loving Trail and close associate of the cattleman Charles Goodnight, was born a slave in Summerville, Mississippi, and later moved to Parker County, Texas, with the family of his owner and probable father, Dr. William Ikard. Bose Ikard's mother was named King and was also William Ikard's slave. Though the Texas Historical Commission lists Ikard's birth as 1843, and Ikard's own headstone lists 1859, a probable year of birth was 1847, the same year as that of William Ikard's “legitimate” son, with whom Bose was largely raised.

Ikard's association with Goodnight arose from their proximity as neighbors in Parker County, working in the same industry. With a move from Mississippi to Texas in 1852 the Ikard family became part of the primary industry of the region, cattle. The sale of one female slave, possibly Ikard's mother, to another neighbor, Oliver ...

Article

William Pencak and Peter Wallenstein

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the varying degrees of social and legal integration among African Americans Native Americans and whites from 1619 to 1895 The first article discusses where races mixed together and the social and cultural results of this integration through 1830 while the second article ...