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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

FPOC: Palmm's Florida Census 1850-1860

Dear Afrigeneas FPOC Researchers:

Julius J. Gordon's "A history of blacks in Florida: an analysis of free Negroes enumerated in the U.S. census of 1850, 1860, in Florida" provides an important profile of Florida's Free People of Color.

Gordon's analysis is published in Florida's extraordinary PALMM Project, which offers digitized archives and articles on the state's history.

For researchers interested states other than Florida, take heart. Many of the enumerated FPOC came from as far north as Virginia and as far south as the Caribbean.

For the Florida researchers, the number of FPOC seems small as compared to other states. Please remember that the restrictive laws against FPOC after Florida became a US Territory forced them to seek refuge outside of the US. Many East Floridians fled to the Bahamas (including Black Seminoles). Earlier, FPOC fled to Cuba around 1821 when Spain relinquished Florida to the Americans. They were, after all, Spanish citizens. When they arrived in Cuba, the government provided them with housing, land and financial support. West Floridians fled to Haiti and Tampico, Mexico.

Some research highlights included in Gordon's research:

1) Revealing comments made by Assistant Marshall John G. Smith of Calhoun County:

"The free Negroes of Calhoun County are mixed blooded, almost white and have intermarried with a few low class whites" " ...They are lazy, indolent and a worthless race." (Page 171)

2) A list of Deceased Black Veterans dating from the Civil War to WW I.

3) An unfortunate flaw in Gordon's research centers on Monroe County. In the introduction he writes:

" This country (Monroe) was omitted due to the large colony of Spanish blacks. This study hoped to concentrate on both pure blacks or a mulatto mix between blacks and whites."

Gordon fails to consider that a great majority of Mulattos born in Florida before 1821 were the offspring of many Spanish, (and some French) African unions. By the time of the 1860 and 1870 census, some of their names had been anglicized. For free (pure?) Blacks born before 1821, further research into their history and their avenue to emancipation under Spanish rule would be fascinating to pursue.

Regardless of the above, Gordon provides us with important keys to researching the FPOC.

Please click on the link below. The link should work, even though it is a bit long. If not click on:

http://palmm.fcla.edu/fh/themes/african.html

Then go to # 14 and read this important analysis.

Best regards,

K Wyer Lane


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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