Join the Genealogy Revolution.
Search for your surname in the largest DNA database of its kind!

My Surname

Banner - Family Tree Maker 2008

Domain Name Registration at 120x60

AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

The Generic "Free Negro" in early Virginia

The world view and politics of the 17th century Virginia rulers effectively divided the population into white and non-white components. The non-white, or "black" component of colonial Virginia, is in effect described several times in legislative acts. These acts specifically make reference to " Moors, Mohammedans, Infidels, East Indians, Indians, and Negroes". These diverse people were the "black" or "Negro" people of colonial record.

As the local Indian tribes lost military relevance, and individual detribalized Indians entered the English social and economic sphere, the ethnic identity of the Indian lost individual and collective relevance in the eyes of the English. Increasingly ethnic non-whites came to be found in records as free Negroes.

Twentieth century investigators interpreted 17th and 18th century references to the words "Negro" or "Mulatto" to imply African descent. In this manner Native Americans and others became "Free African Americans".

Following the Revolutionary War all non-whites were codified as "blacks" in 1785. In that year the Commonwealth of Virginia, in legislating the proportion of Negro ancestry permissable for one to be a classified as a white person, effectively defined the population as either white or black. It should be noted that the intent of the 1785 racial law was to protect elite families of Virginia from a black racial designation, not because there was an African ancestor in the woodpile, but because of widely known and recognized descent from a " black" woman - Pocahantas.

Legislation authorizing the first census in 1790 provided for a census to be taken of all people "both white and black". Polital correctness in the 20th century embraced an understanding of
"black " ( Moor, Mohammedan, Infidel, East Indian, Indian, and Negro ) to reflect African ancestry, and to be equivalent to "African American". Thus a whole erroneous ethnic and historical scheme has been built upon incorrect assumptions.

James Nickens

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
Copyright © 2002-2008 by AfriGeneas. All rights reserved.
AfriGeneas ~ African Ancestored Genealogy