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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Ever since the Internet became popular 10-12 years ago there have been sites which repeat undocumented statements over and over again until everyone accepts them as fact.

One instance involved repeating undocumented stories of mixed-race people in Tennessee and Kentucky being descended from Gypsies, Turks, Jews, etc.

Another involved the Virginia law which declared who should be allowed to bear office. In defining who could not bear office the law stated, “October 1705. An act declaring who shall not bear office in this country…For clearing all manner of doubts which may happen to arise it is enacted and declared that the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child of a negro shall be deemed a mulatto” [Hening IV:251].

So, don’t worry if you find your ancestor listed as “Mulatto.” That statement in the law is proof that he or she was the child of a white person and an Indian. Or you might be descended from Gypsies, Turks or Jews. You are still free and clear of African blood.

Any large group of non-English people who came to the colonies could not have escaped the notice of the colonists and would have been noted in the primary source documents that are now in the various state archives.

Most mixed-race families in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland descended from the first “Negro” slaves freed in Virginia or the nearly 1,000 mixed-race children of white women. A law in 1691 (14 years prior to the 1705 law) regarding the illegitimate, mixed-race children of white women does not include Indians and clearly states, "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].

We will all have different opinions on these and other matters, but we should maintain the professionalism of this site by not blindly accepting repeated statements and by looking for facts in primary source documents whenever possible.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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