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