Free People of Color: the Quiz Answers
16 April 2007
Today's post is the answers to the quiz. No one responded to the original quiz, and although I'm a bit disappointed, I really didn't expect anyone to.
The purpose of the quiz was NOT to show how much or little a person knows, but really to point on the discrepancies between our general knowledge of free Blacks in the South and the truth. I've given this quiz about 5 times to groups and of all the times I&apost;ve given it, maybe only 3 or 4 got more than 50% correct
Section 1: Population
- In 1790, how many free people of color were there in the South compared to the North?
A. 361 in the South vs 2,031 in the North
B. 3,619 in the South vs 2,031 in the North
C. 36,196 in the South vs 20,315 in the North
D. None of the above
Answer: C. Out of a total free “colored” population of 59,511 in the entire US in the 1790 census, 36,196 lived in the South versus 20,315 in the North. Surprising, huh?? Remember, tax paying Native Americans were included in this number and quite a few free Blacks were part Native American.
- Which state had the largest population of free people of color in 1790 and the second largest in 1850?
A. Virginia B. North Carolina C. Maryland D. New York
Answer: A. In 1790, Virginia had the largest population with Maryland trailing behind at 2nd and North Carolina at 3rd, all Southern states. Maryland was a border state and depending on what a person believes, some consider it Northern while others consider it Southern. It was a slave-holding state through the 1860 census.
- The free people of color population of the entire state of NC in 1790 accounted for what percentage of the population?
A. 54% B. 5% C. 27% D. 13%
Answer: D. 4,975 free persons of color resided in NC in 1790, accounting for 13% of the entire state's population.
- In the 1850 census, North Carolina again ranked 3rd in the highest population of free people of color. Virginia was 1st, Maryland was 2nd. What was the population of free people of color in NC during the 1850 census?
A. 5,362 B. 13,035 C. 75,003 D. 30,463
Answer: D. The 1850 census of North Carolina enumerated 30,463 free people of color, the majority which lived in Halifax County
The most interesting thing to me about looking at the populations, our society today is led to believe that the majority of the free Blacks before the Civil War lived in the North, but the census shows that from 1790-1860, the South always had more. Virginia and Maryland switched back and forth between positions 1 and 2, and then North Carolina was usually 3rd and as low as 6. In North Carolina, the largest majority of free Blacks lived in the Northern Piedmont section, especially around Granville and Halifax Counties. It is interesting to note that the majority were not freed in NC, but in VA and a large portion came from Mecklenburg Co., VA
Section 2: Laws
- True or False: North Carolina required all free Blacks to register statewide.
Answer: False! Although most Southern states required free Blacks to register, NC only required it for 4 towns: Washington, Wilmington, Edenton, and Fayetteville. The law came about because these 4 towns were situated on a major water way and many slaves tried to escape by boat by pretending they were free. The law was in place to prevent this from happening.
- True or False: Free Blacks could always travel freely in and out of the state.
Answer: False! Manumission laws in NC required the freed slave to leave the state within 6 months. In 1723, a law was passed that made it illegal for a freed slave to return or face being sold back into slavery for 7 more years. Another law passed in the early 1800's forbade free Blacks from other states from entering NC.
- True or False: Free Blacks could always own slaves in NC.
Answer: False! Up until 1861, it was actually true, there were no restrictions on free Blacks from owning any property. It wasn't until the dawn of the Civil War that laws changed. In 1861, not only was it illegal for free Blacks from owning slaves, they could no longer own guns as well, which left them defenseless against attacks by white neighbors and soldiers during the war.
- True or False: North Carolina's courts always followed the letter of the law when it came to free Blacks.
Answer: False! This may be very surprising to some, but they were very lenient on following the laws…in favor of the free Blacks! Many court cases exist that are in complete contradiction with the laws of the day.
At the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, almost every county has a section of records entitled
Slave Records or
Slave and Free Persons of Color Records where there are numerous records on free Blacks. Also, many records can be found in numerous court documents. A great place to get started with your research at the NC State Archives is: Guide to County Records at the State Archives
These are surnames currently in my database that I'm actively working on. If you have free Blacks in antebellum NC, whether they are listed below or not, please let me know, I would like to communicate with you about your line to further your and my research:
AMIS, ANDERSON, ARTIS, BASS, CHAVIS/ChAVERS, etc., BIBBA, BIBBY, BEEBEE, BLACKNALL, BOGANS, BONNER, BOOKER, BOON, BROOKS, BURRELL, COKER, CREWS, DAY, EVANS, FLOOD, GOEN(S)/GOIN(S)/GOING(S)/GOWEN(S), GUARN(E)(S), HAGINS, HARRIS, HAWKINS, HAWLEY/HALLY, IVEY, JOHNSON, JONES, LOCUS(T), LUCAS, LYNCH, MABRY, MAGEE, MAHO/MAYHO/MAYO/MAYOH, MITCHELL, MONTFORT/MUMFORT/MUMFORD, PETTIFORD/PETTIFER/PETTIVER, PETTIS, PITTMAN, RICHARDSON, RIGGANS, SCOTT, SESSUMS, SHIVERS, SILVER, SNELLING, STEWART, SWEAT, TABO(U)RN(E), TON(E)Y, TYNER
This list of names is always growing and I'll try to remember and post new names I've discovered.