Alabama's black population also included free blacks. Although the numbers were always small, they were looked upon with distrust by whites, who considered them a dangerous example in a slave society. Slave owners attempted to limit contact between free blacks and their slaves. By the constitution of 1819, manumission was a right granted only by the legislature on petition; in its first session the Alabama legislature approved the manumission of seventeen slaves. Sometimes masters allowed slaves to purchase their freedom by selling the produce from their garden allotments or using some of the money they made from being hired out. Owners who freed slaves recognized a variety of reasons-for long years of meritorious service to a family or some heroic act or because the planter knew the slaves were his own children. After the Nat Turner rebellion, requests to the legislature for manumission decreased. Frequently planters freed slaves by wills or else provided for their comfort with yearly stipends and the right to occupy certain lands in perpetuity and the request they be allowed to live as though free.
Source:Alabama The History Of A Deep South State by
Rogers, Ward,Atkins,Flynt 1994, The University of Alabama Pres