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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: The Generic "Free Negro" in early Virginia

Paul. How many, or I should say how few times have you encountered the term "mustee" in Virginia records? The identity "Indian" carried with it certain priviledge which the government labored to extinguish in order to establish a two race society - white and black. The "black" consisting of "Moors, Mohammedans, Infidels, East Indians, Indians, and Negroes". Where evidence of specific ethnicity is not critical to the record generated, the generic term "Negro" is applied. It is only when ethnicity is critical to a legal issue at hand that we learn that the "Negro" in question is actually an Indian, East Indian, or Gypsy. We would not learn that James Manly of North Carolina was an Indian were his ethnicity not crucial to his law suit.

Often the only clue to ethnic identity provided is a record of the refusal of non-Negroe "blacks" to pay the free Negro tax on their wives and daughters.

In the southeastern states, South Carolina was by far the least racist in terms of respecting ethnic identity. North Carolina was by far the worse. Families identifiable as Indian or Gypsy in Virginia are generic Negro or mulatto in North Carolina, then again as Indian or Gypsy in South Carolina almost 200 years later. This belies the condescending notion that People of Color "did not know who they were or where they came from".

There is no denying that some weavers married African Americans. There is also no denying that the Weavers likewise married whites and Indians.

The overiding story of the Weavers is the clear record of persistent Indian ancestry in Virginia through the last available census in 1930.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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