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Re: Social Systems & Slavery
In Response To: Social Systems & Slavery ()


From the 'Free vs Freed' postings on the FPOC Forum your statements on the value of terminolgy in genealogy and family history ring so very true. Along with Terminolgoy, IMHO, I believe that Time, Place and Context share equally important roles. In that light I have a few comments to make.

Free" vs. "Freed". [relocated from fpoc] by admin

However, keep in mind that the USA system of slavery, rooted in European classcism, was not based on fair mindedness and logic.

Agree, the USA form of slavery was not fair minded or logical, but the peculiar institution of American Black Chattel Slavery was like none other in the history of the world.

The social system in this country prior to the Civil War was based on elite hierarchies, and was in itself a social system inherited from the European feudal system of Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Lords, Ladies, Dukes, Duchesses, Counts, Countesses, maids, butlers, cooks, nannies, serfs, and slaves.

Just wondering .... are maids, cooks, nannies, serfs and slaves non-capitalized because they are lower in status within this feudal system?

In the Louisiana of 1860 (formerly a French colony), the free people of color (translated in French = "gens de couleur libres"), were a separate class from the slaves although both of them possessed African blood.

By 1860 Lousiana had been 'free' from the French for 57 years (Lousiana Purchase -1803) the French actually 'owned' the area for only 20 twenty days ...
, by then many of the folks in your 'separate class' were the children & grandchildren of formerly enslaved parentage. Time.... fast forward 30 years to 1896 in Louisana and the Plessy v Ferguson case
establised the 'separate but equal' Jim Crow Laws the put all 'identifable' persons of color on the back of the bus regardless of the birth status of their 'of color' ancestors.

And, the very same thing was true of the "free people of color" in VA, MD, NC and SC, etc.
"Free people of color" were considered a separate "class" of people prior to the Civil War.

I can only speak to my "free people of color" residing in Ohio and their lifestyles, but their origins were from VA, MD & NC with their status being both, born free & manunitted. The orginal's in Ohio, their children and grandchildren appear to have all been treated the same (colored) by the standards of Ohio society from their entrance into the State from ca 1810 to the present day.

To become emancipated ("freed") prior to the Civil War did NOT always automatically (or necessarily, EVER) constitute an immediate transformation into a different "class".

You can't be saying that moving from a state of slavery to one of non-slavery did not automatically constitute a move to a different class.

While it is true that the emancipated person would immediately have legal "freedom", ...he/she would NOT necessarily have been looked upon by others,... within the context of that time period (era),... as a member of that higher class of people known as "free people of color"..

From whose perspective within this 'social caste system' white's, other free blacks, both born free & manunitted, indians slaves, ......

I think the concept of "class" is difficult for many of us present-day Americans to grasp during this current era of 2011.

We, as Americans, are quickly losing the significance of those elitist concepts,...and it does take some thought on our part, to redeem what we have lost as part of the fiber of our society'.

I hope we, as Americans, do lose those elitist concepts and again, IMHO, I can't see any redeemptive quality in that fiber of our society.

Because America is becoming a classless society, that type of thought is now looked upon by many as "old-fashioned" or "snobbish", or "bougie" from the word "bourgeoisie".

But, back in those days, it was very prevalent.

I hope the thoughts of those days don't ever come back based on the
accident, or circumstance, of the birth status of our pre-civil war ancestors

Some good reading on the pre-civil war status of the 'Negro' is found in the two (2) books by Carter G. Woodson, which are snapshots from the 1830 Federal Census. Both written in the 1926-1930 timeframe.

A final thought ..... the children of Thomas Jefferson ..... all born before 1803 when he was the President of the USA and during the time of the Louisana Purchase. The two children who were allowed to 'run away' and blend into white society (ie. pass for white) were neither born free or manumitted, they climbed the social caste system due to skin color, not birth status. The other children who were manumitted/freed upon TJ's death and migrated to Chillicothe, OH were living as just 'regular' colored folks among Blacks who were of both 'free issue' and manumitted. Those other folks include my FPOC Adams, Allen, Edwards, Reno, Scott, Stewart & Walden ancestors.

Please excuse the length of the repsonse, but I felt a need to address each of your statements from my point of view. I hope that we can be agreeable in our disagreements and I wish you continued success as you research your genealogy & family history.

Art Thomas

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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