In the British colonies in North America and in the United States before the abolition of slavery in 1865, free Negro or free Black described the legal status of African Americans who were not enslaved. The term was applied both to formerly enslaved people (freedmen) and to those who had been born free (free people of color).
In South Africa, during the period 1652-1840, a free black was a person of color who had been emancipated; the term was exclusively for freed slaves.[a] Colored people could only either be "free black", "free burgher" (freeborn citizens), "slave," or "free born people" (natives).[b]
In the Netherlands in the 17th century, free black men usually married white women, as there were no restrictions on interracial marriage; specialists in the 21st century speculate they may have been victims of stereotyping and other discrimination.
Slavery was legal and practiced in every European colony in North America, at various points in history. Not all Africans who came to America were slaves; a few came even in the 17th century as free men, as sailors working on ships. In the early colonial years, some Africans came as indentured servants who were freed after a set period of years, as did many of the immigrants from Europe. Such servants became free when they completed their term of indenture; they were also eligible for headrights for land in the new colony in the Chesapeake Bay region, where indentured servants were more common. As early as 1678, a class of free black people existed in North America.
Various groups contributed to the growth of the free Negro population:
- children born to colored free women (see Partus sequitur ventrem)
- mulatto children born to white indentured or free women
- mixed-race children born to free Native American women (the emancipation in the 1860s)
- freed slaves
- slaves who escaped from their enslavers
- As described above, descendants of free Blacks who were never enslaved
Black labor was of economic importance in the export-oriented tobacco plantations of Virginia and Maryland, and in the rice and indigo plantations of South Carolina. Between 1620 and 1780 about 287,000 slaves were imported into the Thirteen Colonies, or 5% of the more than six million slaves brought from Africa. The great majority of transported enslaved Africans were shipped to sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean and to Brazil, where life expectancy was short and slave numbers had to, and could be continually replenished to relatively low costs until the Slave Trade Act 1807.
The life expectancy of slaves was much higher in the Thirteen Colonies than in Latin America, the Caribbean or Brazil.[vague] This, combined with a very high birth rate, meant that numbers of slaves grew rapidly, as the number of births exceeded the number of deaths, reaching nearly 4 million by the time of the 1860 United States Census. From 1770 until 1860 the rate of natural population growth among American slaves was much greater than for the population of any nation in Europe, and was nearly twice as rapid as that of Britain. This was sometimes attributed[by whom?] to very high birth rates: "U.S. slaves, then, reached similar rates of natural increase to whites not because of any special privileges but through a process of great suffering and material deprivation". Slave owners in Virginia and Maryland openly encouraged slave reproduction, impregnating fertile women through rape and near-rape, thereby producing a "crop" of new young slaves that could be sold to the Deep South, where demand exceeded supply.
The Southern Colonies (Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina) imported more[vague] slaves, initially from long-established European colonies in the West Indies. Like them, the mainland colonies rapidly increased restrictions that defined slavery as a racial caste associated with African ethnicity. In 1663 Virginia adopted the principle in slave law of partus sequitur ventrem, according to which children were born into the status of their mother, rather than taking the status of their father, as was then customary for English subjects under common law. Other colonies followed suit. This meant that children of slave mothers in colonial America were also slaves, regardless of their fathers' ethnicity. In some cases, this could result in a person being legally White under Virginia law of the time, although born into slavery.
According to Paul Heinegg, most of the free black families established in the Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolution of the late 18th century descended from unions between White women (whether indentured servants or free) and African men (whether indentured servant, free, or enslaved). These relationships took place mostly among the working class, reflecting the fluid societies of the time. Because such mixed-race children were born to free women, they were free. Through use of court documents, deeds, wills, and other records, Heinegg traced such families as the ancestors of nearly 80 percent of the free Negroes or free blacks recorded in the censuses of the Upper South from 1790 to 1810.[failed verification]
In addition, slave owners manumitted slaves for various reasons: to reward long years of service, because heirs did not want to take on slaves, or to free slave concubines and/or their children. Slaves were sometimes allowed to buy their freedom; they might be permitted to save money from fees paid when they were "hired out" to work for other parties. In the mid-to-late 18th century, Methodist and Baptist evangelists during the period of the First Great Awakening (c. 1730–1755) encouraged slave owners to free their slaves, in their belief that all men were equal before God. They converted many slaves to Christianity and approved black leaders as preachers; blacks developed their own strain of Christianity.[further explanation needed] Before the American Revolutionary War of 1775–1783, few slaves were manumitted; on the eve of the American Revolution, there was an estimated 30,000 free African Americans in Colonial America which accounts for about 5% of the total African American population with most of free African Americans being mixed race. Since the portion of free African Americans were so small and could possibly pass as white, they were not deemed a threat to the White population to warrant anti-Black legislation. However, historian Ira Berlin states that this figure could be as high as 25% due to errors in census collection, ambiguous status of runaway slaves, White-passing persons, and slaves who lived as if they were free but did not have the papers to prove the same.
The war greatly disrupted slave societies. Beginning with the 1775 proclamation of Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, the British recruited slaves of American revolutionaries to their armed forces and promised them freedom in return. The Continental Army gradually also began to allow blacks to fight, giving them promises of freedom in return for their service. Tens of thousands of slaves escaped from plantations or from other venues during the war, especially in the South. Some joined British lines or disappeared in the disruption of war. After the war, when the British evacuated New York in November 1783, they transported more than 3,000 Black Loyalists and thousands of other American Loyalists to resettle in Nova Scotia and in what became Upper Canada (part of present-day Ontario). A total of more than 29,000 Loyalist refugees eventually departed from New York City alone. The British evacuated thousands of other slaves when they left Southern ports, resettling many in the Caribbean and others in England.
In the first two decades after the war, the number and proportion of free Negroes in the United States rose dramatically: northern states abolished slavery, almost all gradually. But also many slave owners, in the Upper South especially, inspired by the war's ideals, manumitted their slaves. From 1790 to 1810, the proportion of free blacks in the Upper South rose from less than 1% to overall,[clarification needed] and nationally, the proportion of free blacks among blacks rose to 13%. The spread of cotton cultivation in the Deep South drove up the demand for slaves after 1810, and the number of manumissions dropped after this period. In the antebellum period many slaves escaped to freedom in the North and in Canada by running away, assisted by the Underground Railroad, staffed by former slaves and by abolitionist sympathizers. Census enumeration found a total of 488,070 "free colored" persons in the United States in 1860.
Most organized political and social movements to end slavery[where?] did not begin until the mid-18th century.: 70 The sentiments of the American Revolution and the equality evoked by the Declaration of Independence rallied many black Americans toward the revolutionary cause and their own hopes of emancipation; both enslaved and free black men fought in the Revolution on both sides.: 70–71 In the North, slaves ran away from their owners in the confusion of war, while in the South, some slaves declared themselves free and abandoned their slave work to join the British.: 71
In the 1770s, blacks throughout New England began sending petitions to northern legislatures demanding freedom; by 1800, all of the northern states had abolished slavery or set measures in place to gradually reduce it.: 72  While free, blacks often had to struggle with reduced civil rights, such as restrictions on voting, as well as racism, segregation, or physical violence.: 73–74 Vermont abolished slavery in 1777, while it was still independent, and when it joined the United States as the 14th state in 1791 it was the first state to have done so. All the other Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution". Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1780, and several other Northern states adopted gradual emancipation. In 1804, New Jersey became the last original Northern state to embark on gradual emancipation. Slavery was proscribed in the federal Northwest Territory under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, passed just before the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The free black population increased from 8% to 13.5% from 1790 to 1810; most of whom lived in the Mid-Atlantic States, New England, and the Upper South, where most of the slave population lived at the time.: 77
The rights of free blacks fluctuated and waned with the gradual rise in power among poor white men during the late 1820s and early 1830s.: 80 The National Negro Convention movement began in 1830, with black men holding regular meetings to discuss the future of the black "race" in America; some women such as Maria Stewart and Sojourner Truth made their voices heard through public lecturing.: 80 The National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods. These efforts were met with resistance, however, as the early 19th century brought renewed anti-black sentiment after the spirit of the Revolution began to die down.
During the 1787 Philadelphia convention a compromise was proposed between northern states which only wanted to count free blacks in congressional apportionment (ignoring slave populations), and slave states which wanted full counting of the slave population. The compromise counted slave populations on the ratio of three-fifths, while free blacks were not subject to the compromise and counted as one full citizen for representation. Due to this compromise Southern states could count three-fifths of their slave populations toward the state populations for purposes of Congressional apportionment and the electoral college. This additional counting of the slave population resulted in those states having political power in excess of the white voting population. The South dominated the national government and the presidency for years. Congress adopted legislation that favored slaveholders, such as permitting slavery in territories as the nation began to expand to the West. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was strengthened by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850, requiring even the governments and residents of free states to enforce the capture and return of fugitive slaves. Famous fugitives such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth gained the support of white abolitionists to purchase their freedom, to avoid being captured and returned to the South and slavery.: 84–85 In 1857, the ruling of Dred Scott v. Sandford effectively denied citizenship to black people of any status.: 85
Southern states also passed harsh laws regulating the conduct of free blacks, in several cases banning them from entering or settling in the state. In Mississippi, a free Negro could be sold into slavery after spending ten days in state. Arkansas passed a law in 1859 that would have enslaved every free black person still present by 1860; although it was not enforced, it succeeded in reducing Arkansas's population of free blacks to below that of any other slave state. A number of Northern states also restricted the migration of free blacks, with the result that emancipated blacks had difficulty finding places to legally settle.
The abolitionist cause attracted interracial support in the North during the antebellum years. Under President Abraham Lincoln, Congress passed several laws to aid blacks to gain a semblance of freedom during the American Civil War; the Confiscation Act of 1861 allowed fugitive slaves who escaped to behind Union lines to remain free, as the military declared them part of "contraband" from the war and refused to return them to slaveholders; the Confiscation Act of 1862 guaranteed both fugitive slaves and their families everlasting freedom, and the Militia Act allowed black men to enroll in military service.: 138
In January 1863, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed the enslaved in Confederate-held territory only. Black men were officially admitted to serve in the Union Army and the United States Colored Troops were organized. Black participation in fighting proved essential to Union victory.: 70
In 1865, the Union won the Civil War, and states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery (except as punishment for a crime) throughout the entire country. The Southern states initially enacted Black Codes in an attempt to maintain control over black labor. The Mississippi Black Code (the first to pass and the best known) distinguished between "free negroes" (referring to those who had been free before the war, in some places called "Old Issues"), (newly free) "freedmen", and "mulattoes" — though placing similar restrictions on freedom for all. US-born blacks gained legal citizenship with the Civil Rights Act of 1866, followed by the Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship Clause.
Migration to cities
The lives of free blacks varied depending on their location within the United States. There was a significant free-black bias towards cities, as many rural free blacks migrated to cities over time, both in the North and the South. Cities were the chief destinations for migrating free blacks in the South, as cities gave free blacks a wider range of economic and social opportunities. Most southern cities had independently black-run churches as well as secret schools for educational advancement. Northern cities also gave blacks better opportunities. For example, free Negroes who lived in Boston generally had more access to formal education.
In the South
Before the American Revolution, there were very few free blacks in the Southern colonies. The Lower South, except for its cities, did not attract many free blacks. The number of urban free Negroes grew faster than the total free black population, and this growth largely came from a mass migration of rural free Negroes moving to cities, such as Richmond and Petersburg of Virginia, Raleigh and Wilmington of North Carolina, Charleston of South Carolina, and Savannah (and later Atlanta) of Georgia. The South overall developed two distinct groups of free Negroes. Those in the Upper South were more numerous: the 1860 census showed only 144 free Negroes in Arkansas, 773 in Mississippi, and 932 in Florida, while in Maryland there were 83,942; in Virginia, 58,042; in North Carolina, 30,463; and in Louisiana, 18,647. Free blacks in the Lower South were more urban, educated, wealthier, and were generally of mixed race with white fathers, compared to free blacks in the Upper South. Despite these differences, the Southern states passed similar laws to regulate black life, borrowing from one another.
Free Negroes unwelcome
The above numbers reflect a deliberate attempt to expel free Negroes from the deep South. "Southerners came to believe that the only successful means of removing the threat of free Negroes was to expel them from the southern states or to change their status from free persons to ... slaves.": 112 Free Negroes were perceived as "an evil of no ordinary magnitude,": 119 undermining the system of slavery. Slaves had to be shown that there was no advantage in being free; thus, free Negroes became victims of the slaveholders' fears. The legislation became more forceful; the free Negro had to accept his new role or leave the state. In Florida, for example, the legislation of 1827 and 1828 prohibited them from joining public gatherings and "giving seditious speeches", and laws of 1825, 1828, and 1833 ended their right to carry firearms. They were barred from jury service and from testifying against whites. To manumit (free) a slave, a master had to pay a tax of $200 each, and had to post a bond guaranteeing that the free Negro would leave the state within 30 days. Eventually, some citizens of Leon County, Florida's most populous and wealthiest: 140 county (this wealth was due to the higher number of slaves in Leon County than any other county in Florida, who in the 1860 census constituted 73% of its population), petitioned the General Assembly to have all free Negroes removed from the state.: 118
In Florida, legislation passed in 1847 required all free Negroes to have a white person as a legal guardian;: 120 in 1855, an act was passed which prevented free Negroes from entering the state.: 119 "In 1861, an act was passed requiring all free Negroes in Florida to register with the judge of probate in whose county they resided. The Negro, when registering, had to give his name, age, color, sex, and occupation and had to pay one dollar to register ... All Negroes over twelve years of age had to have a guardian approved by the probate judge ... The guardian could be sued for any crime committed by the Negro; the Negro could not be sued. Under the new law, any free Negro or mulatto who did not register with the nearest probate judge was classified as a slave and became the lawful property of any white person who claimed possession.": 121
Free Blacks were ordered to leave Arkansas as of January 1, 1860, or they would be enslaved. Most left.
Migration from South to North
Even with the presence of significant free black populations in the South, free blacks often migrated to Northern states. While this presented some problems, free blacks found more opportunities in the North overall. During the nineteenth century, the number and proportion of population of free blacks in the South shrank as a significant portion of the free black population migrated northward. Some of the more prominent and talented free black figures moved to the North for its opportunities, draining the South of potential free black leaders. Some returned after the Civil War to participate in the Reconstruction Era, establishing businesses and being elected to political office. This difference in the distribution of free blacks persisted until the Civil War, at which time about 250,000 free blacks lived in the South.
Opportunities for advancement
The economic, military, and scientific superiority of the Elites provided justification of slavery through the idea of "Divine Providence" (i.e. the idea that "Things were as they were because God willed them to be that way"). Blacks were thus perceived as members of an inferior race, as God had allowed the Elites to seemingly exploit the slave trade without any hint that he might be planning any sort of divine retribution. In fact, the very opposite had happened and slaveholders were seemingly rewarded with great material wealth. The judiciary confirmed this subordinate status even when explicitly racialized laws were not in place. A South Carolina judge editorialized in an 1832 case:
Free negroes belong to a degraded caste of society; they are in no respect on an equality with a white man. According to their condition they ought by law to be compelled to demean themselves as inferiors, from whom submission and respect to the whites, in all their intercourse in society, is demanded; I have always thought and while on the circuit ruled that words of impertinence and insolence addressed by a free negro to a white man, would justify an assault and battery.
Free Blacks could not enter many professional occupations, such as medicine and law, because they were barred from the necessary education. This was also true of occupations that required firearm possession, elective office, or a liquor license. Many of these careers also required large capital investments that most free blacks could not afford. As people developed their lives, there were notable exceptions to these limitations, as was the case with physicians Sarah Parker Remond and Martin Delany in Louisville, Kentucky.
The 1830s saw a significant effort by white communities to oppose black education, coinciding with the emergence of public schooling in northern American society. Public schooling and citizenship were linked together, and because of the ambiguity that surrounded black citizenship status, blacks were effectively excluded from public access to universal education. Paradoxically, the free black community of Baltimore in the antebellum years made more significant strides in increasing black access to education than did Boston and New Haven. Most southern states had no public education systems until these were established during Reconstruction by the new biracial legislatures. Educated free blacks created literary societies in the North, making libraries available to blacks in a time when books were costly but dues or subscription fees were required for membership.
Free black males enjoyed wider employment opportunities than free black females, who were largely confined to domestic occupations. While free black boys could become apprentices to carpenters, coopers, barbers, and blacksmiths, girls' options were much more limited, confined to domestic work such as being cooks, cleaning women, seamstresses, and child-nurturers. Despite this, in certain areas, free black women could become prominent members of the free black community, running households and constituting a significant portion of the free black paid labor force. One of the most highly skilled professions for a woman was teaching.
Many free African-American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia became landowners and some also became slave owners. In some cases, they purchased members of their own families to protect them until being able to set them free. In other cases, they participated in the full slave economy. For example, a freedman named Cyprian Ricard purchased an estate in Louisiana that included 100 slaves.
Free blacks drew up petitions and joined the army during the American Revolution, motivated by the common hope of freedom. This hope was bolstered by the 1775 proclamation by British official Lord Dunmore, who promised freedom to any slave who fought on the side of the British during the war. Blacks also fought on the American side, hoping to gain benefits of citizenship later on. During the Civil War, free blacks fought on both the Confederate and Union sides. Southern free blacks who fought on the Confederate side were hoping to gain a greater degree of tolerance and acceptance among their white neighbors. The hope of equality through the military was realized over time, such as with the equalization of pay for black and white soldiers a month before the end of the Civil War.
Within free black marriages, many women were able to participate more equally in their relationships than elite white women.: 224 [how?][why?] This potential for equality in marriage can be seen through the example of the "colored aristocracy" of the small black elite in St. Louis, where women were often economic partners in their marriages.: 225 These small groups of blacks were generally descended from French and Spanish mixed marriages. Under the French, the women in these marriages had the same rights as white women and could hold property. These black women hoped to remain financially independent both for themselves and for the sake of protecting their children from Missouri's restrictive laws.: 225 This level of black female agency also made female-centered households attractive to widows.: 224 The traditional idea of husband dominating wife could not be the central idea in these elite marriages because of women's importance in bringing income into the family.: 227 Women had to exercise caution in married relationships, however, as marrying a black man who was still a slave would make the free black woman legally responsible for his behavior, good or bad.
There are multiple examples of free black women exerting agency within society, and many of these examples include exerting legal power. Slavery and freedom coexisted with an uncertainty that was dangerous for free blacks. From 1832 to 1837, the story of Margaret Morgan and her family presents a prime example of the danger to free blacks from the ambiguous legal definitions of their status. The Morgan family's legal entanglement led to the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, in which it was decided that their captors could supersede Pennsylvania's personal liberty law and claim ownership of the Morgans. This case highlighted the constitutional ambiguity of black rights while also illustrating the active effort by some in the white community to limit those rights.
In New England, slave women went to court to gain their freedom while free black women went to court to hold on to theirs; the New England legal system was unique in its accessibility to free blacks and the availability of attorneys. Women's freedom suits were often based on technicalities, such as the lack of legal slave documents or mixed-race ancestry that exempted some from slave service. In New England in 1716, Joan Jackson became the first slave woman to win her freedom in a New England court.
Elizabeth Freeman brought the first legal test of the constitutionality of slavery in Massachusetts after the American Revolution, asserting that the state's new constitution and its assertions of men's equality under the law meant that slavery could not exist. As a landowner and taxpayer, she is considered to be one of the most famous black women of the revolutionary era. Coverture limited the ability of some free black women to file lawsuits on their own, but a few women still filed jointly with their husbands.
Notable free Negroes
Born prior to 1800
- Richard Allen: founder of African Methodist Episcopal Church, first independent black denomination in the US, co-founder of the Free African Society
- Benjamin Banneker: almanac author, astronomer, surveyor, naturalist and farmer.
- James Derham: first African American to formally practice medicine in the United States
- Elizabeth Freeman: healer, midwife and nurse who sued for her freedom in 1781
- Prince Hall noted abolitionist for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Freemasonry
- Thomaston L. Jennings: first black man granted a U.S. patent
- Anthony Johnson (colonist): former slave who became a slave owner
- Absalom Jones: first ordained black Episcopal priest; saint
- John Berry Meachum: Baptist minister, businessman, educator
- Jane Minor, healer and emancipator
- Jean Baptiste Point du Sable: founder of Chicago and trader
- Lucy Terry: author
- Sojourner Truth: abolitionist and women's rights activist
- David Walker: abolitionist
- Phillis Wheatley: first published African-American female poet
- Theodore S. Wright: minister, co-founder of American Anti-Slavery Society
- William Wells Brown: fugitive slave, author, playwright, activist
- Charlotte L. Brown: civil rights activist in 1860s San Francisco
- Thomas Day: pre-eminent antebellum cabinetmaker and abolitionist from North Carolina
- Martin Delany: abolitionist, writer, physician, and proponent of black nationalism
- Moses Dickson abolitionist, soldier, minister, organizer
- Frederick Douglass: fugitive slave, reformer, writer, and statesman
- William Ellison: property owner and businessman
- Henry Highland Garnet: Abolitionist and educator
- Cynthia Hesdra: former slave and New York businesswoman
- Harriet Jacobs: writer and abolitionist
- Biddy Mason: nurse, midwife, entrepreneur, philanthropist
- Mary Meachum: Underground railroad conductor and President of Colored Ladies Soldiers Aid Society
- William Cooper Nell: journalist
- William Nesbit: civil rights activist in Pennsylvania
- Solomon Northup: writer of slave narrative Twelve Years a Slave
- Sarah Parker Remond: lecturer and abolitionist, physician
- Charles Lenox Remond
- Daniel Payne: educator, college administrator, and author
- Robert Purvis: abolitionist
- David Ruggles: anti-slavery activist
- Heyward Shepherd: killed in John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry
- Michael Shiner: diarist
- Maria Stewart: journalist, abolitionist, and activist
- William Still: abolitionist, writer, and activist
- Pierre and Juliette Toussaint: philanthropists
- Harriet Tubman: fugitive slave, abolitionist, Underground Railway organizer ("conductor")
- Harriet Wilson: novelist
- Antebellum Black community
- Abyssinian Meeting House
- Free people of color
- Slavery in the United States
- Slavery in Canada
- "The name Free Black has a spontaneous origin at the Cape and literally meant 'liberated black' or, as it is found in some documents 'vrijgelaten swart' [...] the term "free black" referred to a freed slave only": 73–73
- «"coloured people" or people of racially mixed descent were correctly classified as either free burghers, free blacks, slaves or free born people»: 74
- HANS HEESE (1990). "Challenging Certain Aspects of Intergroup Relations in "The Shaping of South African Society, 1652 - 1840"". Kronos. JSTOR: University of the Western Cape (17): 72–73. ISSN 2309-9585. JSTOR 41056283. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
- Karen Williams (2016). "The African and Asian roots of White Australia". Media Diversified. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
another enslaved woman and a free black woman. In March 1831, in mitigation of sentence, Rachel “… forwarded her own petition from Robben Island, begging not to be sent to New South Wales [...] transportation to Australia was applied mainly to black South Africans (including indigenous people, Asian and African slaves and Free Blacks)
- Cath Pound (2 June 2021). "How the Dutch are facing up to their colonial past". BBC. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
free black man in Dutch society? [...] stereotypical depictions all around you it must have been very uncomfortable." [...] Black men usually married white women, another fact that is likely to surprise us, but there were no restrictions on interracial marriage
- Siegal, Nina (4 June 2021). "Telling Stories of Slavery, One Person at a Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
inhabited a gray zone between slavery and freedom [...] He was allowed to marry a woman, Maria Sauls, and have a son, whom the couple baptized as Maurice in 1690
- Frazier, Edward Franklin (1968). The Free Negro Family. p. 1.
- Seybert, Tony (4 Aug 2004). "Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865". Slavery in America. Archived from the original on 4 August 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- Frazier, Edward Franklin (1968). The Free Negro Family. p. 2.
- Betty Wood (2013). Slavery in Colonial America, 1619–1776 (link: excerpt and text search).
- Source: Miller and Smith, eds. Dictionary of American Slavery (1988), p . 678.
- 1860 Census total of the slave population: 3,953,763, p. 595.
- Tadman, Michael (2000). "The Demographic Cost of Sugar: Debates on Slave Societies and Natural Increase in the Americas". The American Historical Review. 105 (5): 1534–75. doi:10.2307/2652029. JSTOR 2652029.
- Free African Americans in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and Maryland and Delaware, Generations Publishing, 1995–2005.
- "Freed In the 17th Century (reprint)". Issues & Views. Spring 1998.
- Wright, Donald R. (1993). African Americans in the Early Republic. Wheeling, Illinois, United States. p. 126. ISBN 0-88295-897-6.
- Horton, James Oliver (2001). Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African-America. pp. 68–69.
- Peter Kolchin, American Slavery, 1619–1865, 1993.
- Zilversmit, Arthur (1967). The First Emancipation: The Abolition of Slavery in the North.
- Horton, James Oliver (2001). Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America. pp. 143–146.
- 1860 Census totals of the free colored population, p. 595.
- Painter, Nell Irvin (2007). Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present.
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 15. "By 1775, inspired by those 'self-evident' truths which were to be expressed by the Declaration of Independence, a considerable number of colonists felt that the time had come to end slavery and give the free Negroes some fruits of liberty. This sentiment, added to economic considerations, led to the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery in six northern states, while there was a swelling flood of private manumissions in the South. Little actual gain was made by the free Negro even in this period, and by the turn of the century, the downward trend had begun again. Thereafter the only important change in that trend before the Civil War was that after 1831 the decline in the status of the free Negro became more precipitate."
- The Founders and Slavery:Little Ventured, Little Gained, p. 427, Paul Finkelman, "Under the Constitution free blacks counted as whole persons for purposes of representation."
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 16. "Symptomatic of the changing public attitude was the passage of a law in 1793 forbidding the migration of free Negroes into Virginia, and another, in 1806, which provided that every Negro freed thereafter must leave the state within twelve months unless granted special permission to remain. All of the other slaveholding states enacted some such laws; they varied in severity but not in substance."
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 16–17. Wilson quotes John Catron of the Tennessee Supreme Court: "All the slaveholding states, it is believed, as well as many non-slaveholding, like ourselves have adopted the policy of exclusion. The consequence is the free negro cannot find a home that promises even safety in the United States and assuredly none that promises comfort."
- Richard Zuczek., ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of the Reconstruction Era. Greenwood. p. 154. ISBN 9780313013997.
- Berlin, Ira (1981). Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. p. 173.
- Frazier, Edward Franklin (1968). The Free Negro Family. p. 14.
- B erlin, Ira (1981). Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. p. 3.
- Berlin, Ira (1981). Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. p. 174.
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 13. "When the Civil War began, there were in the slaveholding states roughly a quarter of a million free Negroes living precariously in the shadow of slavery. Though they constituted a relatively small segment of the total population, they were of sufficient social importance to have occasioned the enactment of a great many laws which severely discriminated against them."
- Berlin, Ira (1981). Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. p. 181.
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), pp. 13–14. "In fact, discriminatory laws were remarkably uniform, in spite of the very great difference in the numbers of free Negroes. But this difference in the numbers of free Negroes was certainly not reflected in the laws of these two groups of states."
- Smith, Julia Floyd (1973), Slavery and Plantation Growth in Antebellum Florida 1821–1860, Gainesville: University of Florida Press
- Schafer, Daniel L. (2003). Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2616-4.
- "Florida Population 1840–2000 by County". Exploring Florida (University of South Florida). Retrieved October 27, 2017.
- Rivers, Larry E. (1981), "Slavery in Microcosm: Leon County, Florida, 1824 to 1860", Journal of Negro History, 66 (3): 235–245, at p. 237, doi:10.2307/2716918, JSTOR 2716918, S2CID 149519589
- "Monthly Summary. United States". Anti-Slavery Reporter and Aborigines' Friend. Vol. 8, no. 3. March 1, 1860. pp. 50–51.
- Berlin, Ira (1981). Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. p. 171.
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 19. "Quite plainly the free Negro could not escape contamination from the concept of racial inferiority, and the Negro servant's descent into slavery was paralleled by the free Negro's loss of social and political status. When the black race came to be identified with slavery, the fortunes of the free Negro became indissolubly linked with the fortunes of the slaves. When the Negro slave came to be regarded as some sort of sub-human, the concept applied with equal force to Negroes who were free."
- Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 27. Quoting John B. O'Neall, Court of Appeals of South Carolina, in State vs. Harden (1832).
- Burckin, Alexander (1996). "A Spirit Of Perseverance: Free African-Americans in Late Antebellum Louisville". The Filson Club History Quarterly. 70 (1): 71.
- Moss, Hilary J. (2009). Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African-American Education in Antebellum America. pp. 2–3.
- Moss, Hilary J. (2009). Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African-American Education in Antebellum America. p. 4.
- Moss, Hilary J. (2009). Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African-American Education in Antebellum America. p. 5.
- Burckin, Alexander (1996). "A Spirit Of Perseverance: Free African-Americans in Late Antebellum Louisville". The Filson Club History Quarterly. 70 (1): 69.
- Lebsock, Suzanne (1982). "Free Black Women and the Question of Matriarchy: Petersburg, Virginia, 1784–1820". Feminist Studies. 8 (2): 276–277. doi:10.2307/3177563. JSTOR 3177563.
- Lebsock, Suzanne (1982). "Free Black Women and the Question of Matriarchy: Petersburg, Virginia, 1784–1820". Feminist Studies. 8 (2): 274. doi:10.2307/3177563. JSTOR 3177563.
- Burckin, Alexander (1996). "A Spirit Of Perseverance: Free African-Americans in Late Antebellum Louisville". The Filson Club History Quarterly. 70 (1): 72.
- Meltzer, Milton (1993). Slavery: A World History. DaCapo. ISBN 0-306-80536-7. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Franklin, John Hope; Moss, Alfred A. (1994). From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. McGraw-Hill. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-679-43087-2.
- Berlin, Ronald Hoffman and Ira (1986). Slavery and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution. pp. 292–293.
- Horton, James Oliver (1993). Free People of Color: Inside the African-American Community. p. 147.
- Horton, James Oliver (1993). Free People of Color: Inside the African-American Community. p. 149.
- Horton, James Oliver; Horton, Lois E. (2006). Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory. p. 197. ISBN 9781565849600.
- Saxton, Martha (2003). Being Good: Women's Moral Values in Early America. Hill and Wang. ISBN 9780374110116.
- Corbett, Katherine (1999). In Her Place: A Guide to St. Louis Women's History. p. 16.
- Lebsock, Suzanne (1982). "Free Black Women and the Question of Matriarchy: Petersburg, Virginia, 1784–1820". Feminist Studies. 8 (2): 283. doi:10.2307/3177563. JSTOR 3177563.
- Patricia, Reid (2012). "Margaret Morgan's Story: A Threshold between Slavery and Freedom, 1820–1842". Slavery and Abolition. 33 (3): 360–362. doi:10.1080/0144039x.2011.606628. S2CID 143137075.
- Pleck, Elizabeth; Adams, Catherine (2010). Love of Freedom. p. 127.
- Pleck, Elizabeth; Adams, Catherine (2010). Love of Freedom. p. 142.
- Pleck, Elizabeth; Adams, Catherine (2010). Love of Freedom. p. 129.
- Davey, Monica (June 24, 2003). "Tribute to Chicago Icon and Enigma". New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
- Andreas, Alfred Theodore (1884). History of Chicago. From the earliest period to the present time, volume 1. A. T. Andreas. Front matter. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
- "Frederick Douglass, 1818–1895. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself". www.docsouth.unc.edu.
- Berlin, Ira. Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (1974).
- Burton, Orville Vernon. "Anatomy of an Antebellum Rural Free Black Community: Social Structure and Social Interaction in Edgefield District, South Carolina, 1850–1860," Southern Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South (1982) 21#3 pp. 294–325.
- Curry, Leonard P. The Free Black in Urban America, 1800–1850: The Shadow of the Dream (University of Chicago Press, 1981).
- Diemer, Andrew K. The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817–1863 (University of Georgia Press, 2016). xvi, 253 pp.
- Franklin, John Hope. Free Negroes in North Carolina.
- Hancock, Scott. "From "No Country" to "Our Country!" Living Out Manumission and the Boundaries of Rights and Citizenship, 1773–1855." Paths to Freedom: Manumission in the Atlantic World (University of South Carolina Press, 2009), 265–289.
- Horton, James O. Free People of Color: Inside the African American Community (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).
- Horton, James O., and Lois E. Horton. Black Bostonian's: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979).
- King, Wilma. The Essence of Liberty: Free Black Women during the Slave Era (2006).
- Lebsock, Susan. "Free black women and the question of matriarchy: Petersburg, Virginia, 1784–1820," Feminist n Mk (1982) 8#2 pp. 271–92.
- Polgar, Paul J. "'Whenever They Judge it Expedient': The Politics of Partisanship and Free Black Voting Rights in Early National New York," American Nineteenth Century History (2011), 12#1 pp. 1–23.
- Rohrs, Richard C., "The Free Black Experience in Antebellum Wilmington, North Carolina: Refining Generalizations about Race Relations," Journal of Southern History 78 (August 2012), 615–38.
- Wilson, Theodore Brantner. The Black Codes of the South. University of Alabama Press, 1965.
- The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Digital Library on American Slavery: Browse Subjects – Free People of Color