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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc"

Hi Rodney. Jack Forbes makes some interesting points, and I much prefer his analysis to that of Professor Rountree who goes out of her way to minimize the African ancestry of people who also have Indian ancestry. He goes into great detail about how freely Indian and African slaves mixed and notes that in New Jersey (as we also see in Virginia), “The Indian slaves were gradually absorbed into the black population” [p.191].

But he believes Professor Rountree’s statement that the Bass family had only English and Indian descent [p.200]. John Bass, a white man, married an Indian woman Keziah Tucker in 1638. His grandchildren Edward and John moved to North Carolina where their children married members of the Anderson family, former “Negro” slaves from Norfolk County. His grandchild William remained in Norfolk County and married Sarah Lovina, the daughter of a “Negro” slave. Keziah Tucker is the only documented Indian in the entire colonial and early state history of the Bass family. They are also the only Lumbee family with any documented Indian history. Jack Forbes makes the mistake of assuming the Chavis/ Chavers family were Lumbee Indians because some of the family lived in Robeson County. The family originated in Virginia and there were many hundreds of members of the family living throughout Virginia, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, etc., by 1800. There were probably thousands all over the country by 1857 when a Chavers was charged in Robeson County as a “free person of color” for carrying a shotgun [p.89].

He mistakes Mobile Hopson/ Hobson as an Indian (because he says he is) [p.90]. The Hopson/ Hobson family were part of the light-skinned, mixed-race community of York County which descended from white women who had children by Africans. The Dungees were not a white family from King William County [p.201]. They descend from Frances Dungee, a white woman, whose “Mulatto” son was charged with raping a white woman in Brunswick County in 1755.

Most mixed-race families who were free during the colonial period in Virginia and Maryland descend from white women who had children by African Americans. I estimate there were over 1,000 such children born to white women in those colonies. This was common enough by 1691 that the Virginia legislature passed the following law (and Maryland passed one similar):

“And for the prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which may hereafter increase in this dominion with English, or white women, as well as by their unlawful accompanying with one another. Be it enacted…that for the time to come whatsoever English or white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a Negro, mulatto, or Indian man or woman, bound or free, shall be banished and removed from the dominion forever…and be it further enacted…that if any English or white woman shall have a bastard child by a negro or mulatto, she shall pay the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, within one month after the child is born…and in default of such payment, shall be disposed of for five years…and such bastard child shall be bound out as a servant by the said church wardens until he or she shall attain the age of thirty years” (later changed to 31 years) [Hening, III: 86-88].

Note that the English were forbidden to marry Indians, but English women were not subject to this severe punishment for having children by Indians—nor were there many cases of this in Virginia or Maryland.

Even African Americans with large amounts of other ancestry have always been and still are considered African American in this country. Native Americans were absorbed into the slave and free African American populations because the English colonials had a very low opinion of Indians and once they mixed with African Americans, they were considered African American. It is not our place as genealogists or historians to change what happened in the past. We are only reporting what happened.
Paul

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Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc"
Re: Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc"
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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