The Status of Free African Americans in Northern and Southern Society Flashcards Preview

HIST 300: African American History (Slavery) > The Status of Free African Americans in Northern and Southern Society > Flashcards

Flashcards in The Status of Free African Americans in Northern and Southern Society Deck (17)
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Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

- part of the compromise struck by the South + North involving slavery in the new territory the US acquired in the Mexican-American War

- put more restrictions + punishment on slaves (especially fugitive slaves)

- fugitive slaves can't testify + no trial by jury + guilt is assumed + posse can be called against them

- anyone found to be aiding fugitive slaves would be fined $100 + thrown in jail for 6 months

- judges compensated more for ruling in favor of slave owner

- act was retroactive (no longer mattered where/when they were a fugitive slave they could be taken back at any time)


Effects of Fugitive Slave Act

- heightens sectional tensions w/ kidnappings becoming more common among free blacks

- many blacks begin to migrate to Canada even more

- caused many free blacks to reexamine whether immigration was a viable alternative

- some Northern black leaders encouraged armed resistance against new act (including Frederick Douglass)

- gave the illusion of sectional peace (southern wishes had been granted) (would be shattered repeatedly)

- ex = publishing of Uncle Tom's cabin depicted a much harsher view of slavery than what Southerners generally accepted


Free Blacks

- have always been part of American society (during colonial + slave era)

- most lived in the shadow of plantations + slavery (known to many historians as quasi free blacks (not really slaves but not free either)

- 1826 = free blacks in Baltimore sent petition to white countrymen

- most free blacks segregated under law (second class citizens)

- occupied inferior status between whites + slaves

- many struggled to earn a living + find housing + educate children + escape violence

- presence of free blacks disturbed whites both in the North + South

- freedom did not mean equality + equal opportunity in jobs/schools/housing


Sources of Free blacks population

- manumissions = included private manumission where owners felt oral disregard for institution of slavery

- some masters troubled by living in society where both freedom and slavery exist

- public manumission = legal abolition of slavery in North + freedom granted to black people who served in American Revolution

- Southern states even liberalized slaves that fought after Revolution

- natural increases = children born from free black parents + mulatto children from white/black women + children born from Indian black relationships

- some slaves able to purchase freedom during Revolutionary era

- some slaves took there masters to court to petition for freedom

- some slaves just ran away from plantations to the North


Whites Thoughts on Free Blacks

- most Americans view free blacks negatively (strong consensus among whites in favor of white supremacy

- free blacks seen as part of a degraded class (widespread agreement nationally that all blacks were intellectually + physically inferior - similar to Jefferson beliefs)

- fearful of giving blacks more legal rights
- thought blacks had much less initiative than whites

- most whites thought these differences in blacks vs whites were permanent/would take centuries for blacks to catch up

- miscegenation strongly frowned upon (thought it would lead to a tainting of white race)

- most believed racial prejudice was natural + logical response to black people

- thought a biracial egalitarian society was either completely impossible/would only be achieved in the very distant future

- subordination of blacks was a widespread belief even among white abolitionists (just wanted to end slavery but didn't like blacks)

- free blacks viewed as social danger (menace to society) (responsible for most of the crime + disorder in American society)

- even abolitionists felt that blacks were "degraded + vicious"

- served as arguments against large scale emancipation of blacks

- white Northerners afraid mass emancipation would lead to mass migration of blacks to North (take away jobs) (become a depraved population)

- Federal Census (1840) - falsely revealed free blacks had much higher rate of insanity than slaves (10x higher) (swayed some public opinions)

- gave credence + comfort + cause for their mistreatment of free black population

- strain of true freedom "too much for blacks to handle"

- stupid belief that free black men are a danger to white women (danger of miscegenation - even though most miscegenation came from white masters raping slave women)



Uncle Tom

- southerners buy into this image b/c they want this image of slavery to be portrayed to the world as a positive


Mulattos in Lousiana

- many came over from West Indies as mulatto children

- highly privileged class

- largest black slave owners in US were in LA

- see themselves as intermediate class between blacks + whites

- educated + speak French/English/Spanish fluently

- many able to pass for white

- since they arrive before Americans able to settle LA, they're able to form free black militias (called upon multiple times to defend LA from Indians + European adversaries)

- b/c they're able to form free black militias they even have the authority to punish white men


Free Black Pop.

- MA + VA had largest free black populations


Free Blacks in the South

- most of them stayed in the South (family + familiarity + most are unskilled so can't get jobs in the North)

- most Southern free blacks lived + worked on the margins of Southern economy (faced restrictions + competition from white/slave workers)

- most were pushed into poverty (small % made comfortable living)

- most lived in countryside as farmers

- 1860 = 75% of all NC blacks lived as farm hands

- black landowners typically owned subsistence farms (could not compete w/ large white landowners)

- some blacks in South worked in urban areas as railroad workers

- free black women also worked in the field + as domestic workers (similar jobs they worked as slaves)

- very few free black women worked as skilled workers (most skilled free black women worked as bath workers)

- those free blacks that lived in coastal areas worked as fishermen + whalers (Paul Cuffey) + as stewards on ships

- urban free blacks had greater freedom + higher wages

- in some cities 50% of adult free black males worked in factories (metal + tobacco + paper mill)

- some cities free black artisans dominated skilled trades (Charleston, SC free blacks dominate millright trade + almost half of all tailors in SC)

- elite black artisans socialized w/ one another w/ their children attending the same schools + attending the same churches (made up the elite of black society)

- elite black societies segregated by skin color

- free blacks in Lower South better off than Upper South (had more entrenched positions)

- free blacks in SC/GA/LA had closer ties to upper class whites (would protect you from unfair competitions + were patrons of free black businesses)

- manumissions in Lower South were more selective (meant masters more invested in success of former slaves)

- most free blacks in South worked in poorly paid positions

- some had contracts w/ whites to provide services for food + clothing + nominal wages (some could last decades) (many ended up in debt peonage)

- some blacks forced back into temporary slavery since they were unable to pay fines + taxes + jail terms

- apprenticeship laws worked to detriment of many free blacks (very cheap form of labor in Southern states)

- whites used apprenticeship laws to get blacks + whites + women + children to work for cheap

- some southern states removed provisions allowing free blacks to read + write

- black children generally apprenticed to the most menial of positions (picking tobacco/cotton etc.

- immigration of Irish/Germans into Southern states into 1830s hurt economic position of free blacks (now even more competition)

- whites found it more preferable to hire white immigrants than free blacks (whites slowly replacing blacks in certain industries like heavy manual labor)

- certain jobs in Southern cities become synonymous for free blacks (most important was barber trade)

- some of wealthiest free blacks in South were black barbers (not physically demanding + paid well especially if one's clients were white + didn't take a lot of capital to own a barber shop)

- the most successful free blacks earned a living serving white clients exclusively (didn't mix clientele)

- William Johnson (black barber) in Naches, MS - freed by petition of owner - mulatto - disassociated himself from most free blacks in city unless they were of same class

- Johnson - opened barber shop + very successful/respected in white community - ended up buying property + slaves

- Northern free blacks consistently competed against poor white immigrants (specifically Irish) (fewer immigrants in the South so an advantage)


Free Black Housing

- had some of worst housing in country

- most in countryside usually squatted on shacks on small plots of land no one wanted

- others built isolated shacks tucked away from main road

- by 1830 at least 25% of free blacks in VA lived w/ white employers (common in the South)

- quite common in South for white employers to house black field hands + black slaves

- a disadvantage of living w/ whites is less autonomy

- sometimes free blacks would form small villages

- SC required all free blacks to pay capitation tax (essentially a poll tax) (used as an incentive for free blacks to work)

- faced residential segregation in the North (no so much in South)

- segregation + economic exploitation in North would be the foundation of the future black ghetto (blacks excluded from white neighborhoods well into 20th century)

- Some of these like Little Africa in Cincinatti + Nigger Hill in Boston

- housing situation may be a big reason why free blacks in South didn't move North

- were the targets of a lot of violence from white immigrants in the North

- Alley Housing = common in both North + South (cheapest housing available in the city + in proximity to major employment centers for unskilled workers) (most residents uneducated + unskilled) (even if skilled unhighly they could compete)

- Alley Housing = essentially mini ghettos (generally concentrated in oldest sectors of the city) (overwhelmingly segregated by race)


Free Black Health

- had higher mortality rate than whites (2-3x)

- died of diseases like pneumonia + tuberculosis + malnutrition

- normally had a very unhealthy diet

- epidemics took serious toll on free blacks (suffer disproportionately in both the North + South)

- housing of Southern free blacks also poor but no black ghettos in South (blacks scattered throughout Southern cities + lived often w/ white employers)

- lived near railroads + rivers (areas that were loud + dirty + dangerous)

- residential segregation increasing by the Civil War in the South


Free Black Families

- most were two parent families despite poverty

- free black families were headed more by women than white families mainly due to the poverty but not much different than numbers seen in white families

- more black women worked outside of the home then white women

- free black families more likely to take in lodgers/relatives in order to help pull resources to pay bills



- free blacks place their faith in changing their status through education

- view education as a means towards upward mobility

- way to improve their status not only in their own eyes but in the eyes of whites

- free black leaders thought obtaining an education would maybe convince whites they should be given right to vote (wouldn't happen)

- thought education would elevate their character + enhance their image

- free black leaders felt education would make differences in skin color irrelevant

- education + literacy the exception for blacks before Civil War

- most educated blacks had only a primary school education

- Puritans + Quakers took particular interest in the education of free blacks (specifically teaching them how to read the Bible)

- manumission socieites helped establish black schools (African Schools) across the North (schools that white philanthropists would donate to to educate blacks)

- black Church also took interest in education especially Methodists (set specific educational guidelines for its ministers)

- black Churches educated blacks mostly through Sunday Schools

- black churches would publish own newspapers like Christian Recorder

- free blacks more likely to obtain an education in the North (specifically New England than the South (fewer restrictive laws + more schools + more money being put into their school)

- elite blacks sent children to private schools and tutors at homes


Black Higher Education

- attempts for many blacks to enter higher education before Civil War was in vain (most not allowed to attend college in either North/South

- very few states provided public funds for blacks schools

- in instances where schools were established for black children even in the North they often met difficulty (ex: RI Quaker school was burned to the ground)



James McCune Smith

Prominent 19th century physician

- born a slave but freed at the age of 14

- fortunate enough to attend one of handful of free black schools in New York

- rejected from dozens of medical schools after undergrad (accepted to University of Glasgow in Scotland)

- lives in Scotland for 5 years where he gets 3 degrees

- was first university trained black physician in America

- establishes practice in New York + becomes involved in advancement of free blacks/slaves

- wrote widely in anti-slavery newspapers + part of several anti slavery orgs.

- huge advocate of moral reform (certain characteristics needed for black people to advance, specifically education)

- One of the earliest proponents of industrial education (joined w/ Frederick Douglass to establish a black industrial college -would never work)

- Smith believed blacks should receive both a liberal arts education + learn a trade (always give you the opportunity to be self reliant)

- strong proponent of race pride (preached race unity + self respect

- opposed colonization (saw it as devious scheme to rid US of blacks)

- shining example of black achievement


Martin Delaney

- would become foremost spokesperson for black emigration

- born of free mother + slave father

- moved to Pittsburgh in 19 to continue education under black minister

- after 5 years with minister he decided he wanted to study medicine (accepted to Harvard)

- white Harvard students try to terminate his education (succeed in getting faculty to kick him out)

- causes Delaney to become more militant + to devote more time to anti-slavery/immigration

- believes heavily in self sufficiency

- thought blacks must engage in a variety of economic opportunities for them to be respected by whites (must make a mark in their profession)

- organizes several national emigration conventions

- set up Niger Valley Exploring Company to find suitable place for blacks to settle in Africa (most blacks not interested)

- would later go on to become highest ranking black soldier in the Civil War attaining the rank of major and became an active recruiter of black soldiers


Free Black Institutions

- black elites = generally men (work in formal institutions w/in black community)

- churches + literary socieities + women socieities + schools

- Negro Convention Movement (1830-61) = was series of conventions where free black leaders would come together to debate + come up w/ strategies about abolition (all conventions held in North)

- Black Church = leading black institution (assisted blacks in gaining the right to vote + equal employment opportunities + right to an education + right to being considered a human being)

- church = where blacks developed leadership skills + engage in economic cooperation + where they could educate themselves + where they could gain fellowship/status/recognition w/ one another

- church - would be most dynamic/cohesive/effective of free black institutions

- free black church - united blacks from all classes

- blacks weren't welcome in many white churches in both North/South (so made their own separate churches)

North = Richard Allen

- born a slave + would join the Methodist Society at 17

- permitted to purchase freedom during American Revolution

- returned to Philly where joined white congregation of leading white church + eventually licensed to preach

- only permitted to hold services before the regular services arrived (congregation gained in size - disturbed white methodist)

- Allen would stage a walkout after mistreatment from white trustees + purchase lot of land to build own church known as African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) (known as Mother Bethel)

- becomes first black bishop in the US

- Mother Bethel would become independent organization away from white Methodists (autonomy of black church is very important to black community - can make its own choices)

- Mother Bethel was a waystation for the underground railroad + collected money for anti-slavery activities

- Baptist church would eventually overtake Methodists

South = free blacks faced way greater opposition in way of establishing church

- faced violence + formal legislative restrictions

- Southern lawmakers feared the establishment of a black church w/o white supervision (especially true after slave revolt)

- by late 1820s some Southern states prohibited meeting of black churches + banned black ministers from the pulpit (caused many black ministers to leave the South + church membership in South to dec.

- majority of black churches not abolished in South + continued to organize own congregations

- attempts to control black preachers typically failed (they could meet in secret in people's houses -didn't need formal building)

- whites began withdrawing from mixed congregations as black membership began inc. in 1830s

- Southern black churches largely confined to cities + more prominent in Upper South than Lower South

- Southern black churches also provided insurance + death benefits + organized community recreation/entertainment + aided poor in the community through missionary activity + strengthened black families by focusing on the sanctity of marriage

- black elites typically went to mixed churches + did not attend church w/ former slaves + many attended Catholic church especially in mulatto communities like New Orleans