XII
THE FREE NEGRO IN ALABAMA BEFORE 1865

"MANY MEN of the South," writes U. B. Phillips, "thought of themselves and their neighbors as living above a loaded mine, in which the Negro slaves were the powder, the abolitionists the sparks, and the free Negroes the fuse."1

Separated from white people by color and social position and from slaves by their freedom, free Negroes, in Alabama as in other slave states, occupied a peculiar position in society and created peculiar problems. When Alabama was admitted to the Union in 1819, they numbered about 500 in a total population of 127,901.2 During the next four decades, their number increased. There were 1,572 in 1830; 2,039 in 1840; 2,265 in 1850; and 2,690 in 1860.3 Natural birth rate, immigration into Alabama from other states, and continual emancipation of Alabama slaves by their owners all contributed to this increase. In 1850, one-fourth of the free Negroes in Alabama were natives of other states; eleven of them were of foreign birth.4 Emancipation continued even after laws were passed to restrict them: sixteen slaves were freed in 1850; 101 in 1860.5

____________________
1
U. B. Phillips, "Racial Problems, Adjustments, and Disturbances," in The South and the Building of the Nation, IV, 236-37.
2

U. S. Census of 1860, pp. 3-5.

4
Compendium of the U. S. Census, of 1850, p. 78. 758 males and 823 females were born in Alabama; 379 males and 310 females in other states; 5 males and 6females in foreign countries; 14 males and 10 females did not know the place of their birth.
5
Preliminary report of the Eighth Census, 1860, p. 137.

-361-

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Slavery in Alabama
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xxi
  • Preface xxv
  • Acknowledgements xxvii
  • I - In the Colonial and Territorial Periods 1
  • II - Plantations and Planters 19
  • III - The Work of the Plantation: Overseer and Slave 44
  • IV - The Slave and the Plantation 81
  • V - Traffic in Slaves 141
  • VI - Hired Slave and Town Slave 195
  • VII - The Legal Status of the Slave 215
  • VIII - Crimes and Punishments of Slaves 242
  • IX - Runaways 266
  • X - The Church and the Slave 294
  • XI - The Defense of Slavery 332
  • XII - The Free Negro in Alabama Before 1865 361
  • Bibliography 399
  • Index 411
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