Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2003 17:20:13 -0600 (CST)
Subject:What Separates the "Mulatto" from the "White"?
This article may help explain the seeming problem census enumerators had in identifying our ancestors as "Black" or "Mulatto" or "White" and how they often changed color classification from one census to the next. Pity the poor enumerator..
What Separates the "Mulatto" from the "White"?
Can Slaves Be "White"?
Tenzer emphasizes the fact that "negro blood" by itself did not make
anyone a slave. It was the maternal descent of the partus rule that
enslaved a person - if the maternal slave line was unbroken by legal
manumission. A slaveholder could, legally, have more "negro blood"
than his slave. A legal "white" man could have more Negro blood than
a so-called "light mulatto" who would be legally "white" if he were
manumitted. The latter was possible because the general Southern rule
was to establish one-eighth or less Negro blood as the dividing line
between "white" and "mulatto". Even this could be modified by such
things as reputation, acceptance by the local "white" community,
property ownership, etc. Hard as it may be for persons raised on "one
drop" mythology to believe, a person classified as a "mulatto slave"
would, if manumitted and one-eighth or less "black," legally become a
free "white" person rather than a "free colored." As Thomas
Jefferson, himself the reputed father of "white slaves," states:
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