Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot Topics from the 1850's

Good morning all. Hello, Clyde.

You're wearing sunglasses? Rough night, chickie?

Ha. No another migraine showed up Saturday night. It looks like the my computer screen is doing the bump and wave this morning, so the glasses stay.

Sure, that's what they all say.

Zip it, Clyde. Let's get back to researching the 1850's.

Good, I need a nap.

I'll make you eat those words, boyo. Someday. One of the more bizarre things I've come across was in John Hope Franklin's The Free Negro in North Carolina 1790 - 1860.

Slave quarters on a plantation in Georgia, USA. Wood engraving c1860

What's that?

Right before the Civil War, many free negro petitioned the state government to willingly become slaves.


Yes, you read that right. Free persons of color legally became slaves.

Why in the world would they do such a thing?

I'm glad you asked, Clyde. Here's the deal. For years, white slaveholders were not too keen on the free negro population. They were terrified their slaves would be overcome by envy of their free brothers and revolt. So the whites did everything they could to prevent contact between free negros and slaves. No intermarriage without permission and fines. No trading goods or services. No visiting on the Sabbath. No playing cards. Transgression of such were met with fines and possible slavery.

The Old Plantation 1800. Anonymous 19th century watercolour.

So the free negros were cut off from the slave population, many of which were family. And the majority of whites would have nothing to do with the free negros socially or commercially. In fact, many petitions were brought before the government to force the free negros to either leave the state or become slaves. Some chose slavery.

So how does this fit into your book, chum?

I'm not sure yet, Clyde. But I want to capture what it felt like to live in a country on the verge of civil war. The time of the large plantations was just about up. This gives me ideas for some potential parlor room debates.

Will you have a free negro character?

I might. Good idea, Clyde. Now you can go to sleep.



  1. Loved this!!! What a way to get to know the character a little bit, really start to understand where you want the story to go! I'm very intrigued to see what comes of this!

  2. This is cool! I would have never known that! And plus, it's a great way to start the muse for your new book. YAY!



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