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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Restrictive Laws Against Free People Of Color

Dear Researchers of Free People of Color:

I’m researching the specific laws that were enacted in Southern States against free people of color prior to the Civil War.

Specifically, those laws which forced free people of color to take a white “guardian” and/or re-enslave themselves (taking a white master)

Below is the research on the states of Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.

The free people color of Alabama and Florida were forced to take a "white guardian"... later revised as a "master."

1848 Florida required free persons of color to have a guardian

1858 Florida required free people to select their own masters and become slaves. (Oh Goody! Freedom of Choice")

(The result of the two above-mentioned laws inspired the free Blacks to take the first thing smokin' out of Florida. Perhaps their cousins in Louisiana told them about a less stressful life in Tampico, which is where many of them fled.)


1852 Alabama required free persons of color to have a white guardian.

Referenced Research "Gulf Coast Historical Review Vol 3"


The Louisiana legislature in1859 enacted a law strongly encouraging all free blacks to choose masters and voluntarily reenslave themselves.


Can anyone add to this list of state laws that would essentially re-enslave free people of color?

You’ll notice that the above laws were all enacted on the eve of the Civil War.

I’d appreciate your comments and direct links to the laws.

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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