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Even his own child, by a black woman or a mulatto, when the child is called a quadroon, and is very often as white as any English child, is frequently sold to degradation. There are thousands upon thousands of mulattoes and quadroons, all children of slaveholders, in a state of slavery. Slavery is bad enough for the black, but it is worse, if worse can be, for the mulatto or the quadroon to be subjected to the utmost degradation and hardship, and to know that it is their own fathers who are treating them as brutes, especially when they contrast their usage with the pampered luxury in which they see his lawful children revel, who are not whiter, and very often not so good-looking as the quadroon.

A few months before I was born, my father married my mother's young mistress. As soon as my father's wife heard of my birth, she sent one of my mother's sisters to see whether I was white or black, and when my aunt had seen me, she returned back as soon as she could, and told her mistress that I was white, and resembled Mr. Roper very much. Mr. Roper's wife being not pleased with this report, she got a large club stick and knife, and hastened to the place in which my mother was confined. She went into my mother's room with full intention to murder me with her knife and club, but as she was going to stick the knife into me, my grandmother happening to come in, caught the knife and saved my life. But as well as I can recollect from what my mother told me, my father sold her and myself soon after her confinement.

My master was, to my knowledge, the father of eleven slaves. But did the mothers dare to tell who was the father of their children? Did the other slaves dare to allude to it, except in whispers among themselves? No, indeed! They knew too well the terrible consequences.

Southern women often marry a man knowing that he is the father of many little slaves. They do not trouble themselves about it. They regard such children as property, as marketable as the pigs on the plantation; and it is seldom that they do not make them aware of this by passing them into the slave-trader's hands as soon as possible, and thus getting them out of their sight.

Some poor creatures have been so brutalized by the lash that they will sneak out of the way to give their masters free access to their wives and daughters. Do you think this proves the black man to belong to an inferior order of beings? What would you be, if you had been born and brought up a slave, with generations of slaves for ancestors? I admit that the black man is inferior. But what is it that makes him so? It is the ignorance in which white men compel him to live; it is the torturing whip that lashes manhood out of him; it is the fierce bloodhounds of the South, and the scarcely less cruel human bloodhounds of the north, who enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. They do the work.

I was regarded as fair-looking for one of my race, and for four years a white man - I spare the world his name - had base designs upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is fraught with pain. Suffice it to say, that he persecuted me for four years, and I became a mother. The child of which he was the father was the only child that I ever brought into the world. If my poor boy ever suffered any humiliating pangs on account of birth, he could not blame his mother, for God knows that she did not wish to give him life; he must blame the edicts of that society which deemed it no crime to undermine the virtue of girls in my then position.

I was born in Lexington, Kentucky. The man who stole me as soon as I was born, recorded the births of all the infants which he claimed to be born his property, in a book which he kept for that purpose. My mother's name was Elizabeth. She had seven children, Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, Elizabeth, and myself. No two of us were children of the same father. My father's name, as I learned from my mother, was George Higgins. He was a white man, a relative of my master, and connected with some of the first families in Kentucky.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather. My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me.

But I now entered on my fifteenth year - a sad epoch in the life of a slave girl. My master, Dr. Flint, began to whisper foul words in my ear. Young as I was, I could not remain ignorant of their import. I tried to treat them with indifference or contempt. The master's age, my extreme youth, and the fear that his conduct would be reported to my grandmother, made him bear this treatment for many months. He was a crafty man, and resorted to many means to accomplish his purposes. Sometimes he had stormy, terrific ways, that made his victims tremble; sometimes he assumed a gentleness that he thought must surely subdue. Of the two, I preferred his stormy moods, although they left me trembling.

He tried his utmost to corrupt the pure principles my grandmother had instilled. He peopled my young mind with unclean images, such as only a vile monster could think of. I turned from him with disgust and hatred. But he was my master. I was compelled to live under the same roof with him - where I saw a man forty years my senior daily violating the most sacred commandments of nature. He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things. My soul revolted against the mean tyranny. But where could I turn for protection? No matter whether the slave girl be as black as ebony or as fair as her mistress. In either case, there is no shadow of law to protect her from insult, from violence, or even from death; all these are inflicted by fiends who bear the shape of men.

The mistress, who ought to protect the helpless victim, has no other feelings towards her but those of jealousy and rage. Even the little child, who is accustomed to wait on her mistress and her children, will learn, before she is twelve years old, why it is that her mistress hates such and such a one among the slaves. Perhaps the child's own mother is among those hated ones. She listens to violent outbreaks of jealous passion, and cannot help understanding what is the cause. She will become prematurely knowing in evil things. Soon she will learn to tremble when she hears her master's footfall. She will be compelled to realize that she is no longer a child. If God has bestowed beauty upon her, it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave. I know that some are too much brutalized by slavery to feel the humiliation of their position; but many slaves feel it most acutely, and shrink from the memory of it. I cannot tell how much I suffered in the presence of these wrongs, nor how I am still pained by the retrospect.

My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him. If I went out for a breath of fresh air, after a day of unwearied toil, his footsteps dogged me. If I knelt by my mother's grave, his dark shadow fell on me even there. The light heart which nature had given me became heavy with sad forebodings. The other slaves in my master's house noticed the change. Many of them pitied me; but none dared to ask the cause. They had no need to inquire. They knew too well the guilty practices under that roof; and they were aware that to speak of them was an offence that never went unpunished.

I longed for some one to confide in. I would have given the world to have laid my head on my grandmother's faithful bosom, and told her all my troubles. But Dr. Flint swore he would kill me, if I was not as silent as the grave. Then, although my grandmother was all in all to me, I feared her as well as loved her. I had been accustomed to look up to her with a respect bordering upon awe. I was very young, and felt shamefaced about telling her such impure things, especially as I knew her to be very strict on such subjects.

I had entered my sixteenth year, and every day it became more apparent that my presence was intolerable to Mrs. Flint. Angry words frequently passed between her and her husband. He had never punished me himself, and he would not allow any body else to punish me. In that respect, she was never satisfied; but, in her angry moods, no terms were too vile for her to bestow upon me. Yet I, whom she detested so bitterly, had far more pity for her than he had, whose duty it was to make her life happy. I never wronged her, or wished to wrong her; and one word of kindness from her would have brought me to her feet.

After repeated quarrels between the doctor and his wife, he announced his intention to take his youngest daughter, then four years old, to sleep in his apartment. It was necessary that a servant should sleep in the same room, to be on hand if the child stirred. I was selected for that office, and informed for what purpose that arrangement had been made.

A poor slave's wife can never be true to her husband contrary to the will of her master. She can neither be pure nor virtuous, contrary to the will of her master. She dare not refuse to be reduced to a state of adultery at the will of her master.

All my life I had known that such conditions were accepted as a matter of course. I found that this rape of helpless Negro girls and women, which began in slavery days, still continued without let or hindrance, check or reproof from the church, state, or press until there had been created this race within a race - and all designated by the inclusive term of "colored".

I also found that what the white man of the South practiced as all right for himself, he assumed to be unthinkable in white women. They could and did fall in love with the pretty mulatto and quadroon girls as well as black ones, but they professed an inability to imagine white women doing the same thing with Negro and mulatto men. Whenever they did so and were found out, the cry of rape was raised, and the lowest element of the white South was turned loose to wreak its fiendish cruelty on those too weak to help themselves.

No torture of helpless victims by heathen savages or cruel red Indians ever exceeded the cold-blooded savagery of white devils under lynch law. This was done by white men who controlled all the forces of law and order in their communities and who could have legally punished rapists and murderers, especially black men who had neither political power nor financial strength with which to evade any justly deserved fate. The more I studied the situation, the more I was convinced that the Southerner had never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income.

Mulattoes - History

The Disfranchisement of the Free Persons of Color in America

The Creole Experience

from Freedom by birth during The French period to Near slavery conditions after the Civil War )

They can't destroy Our Culture ..

Passing and Racism in America. view videos

As the war began, the mulatto elite was ambivalent. At first, almost by reflex it seems, its members tried once again to join hands with white leadership in the face of danger. Whites accepted that response, this time with some evidence of misgivings. Shortly, however, the mulatto elite turned against the white world. As it did so, it was closely in step with the great mass of Southern Negroes. Invariably in the South, when Union armies drew near, vast numbers of Negroes, slave and free, black and mulatto, swarmed to their protection.

The changeover was rather dramatic in Louisiana, that richest of the large communities. The approach of war brought from the free mulattoes at least the appearance of a great rush to support the state and the Confederacy. The free persons of color who were veterans of the battle of New Orleans, now somewhat older but no less brave, offered their services yet again in the defense of their state.

In May 1861 the governor accepted an entire regiment of younger free gens de couleur into the state’s military organization under Negro officers. Shortly, the governor thought better of the idea and disarmed the regiment. A year later it was enlisted again—this time, ironically, in the Union army it was originally designed to oppose. Indeed, under General Benjamin F. Butler three regiments of free men of color were soon enrolled and organized as the Louisiana Native Guards.

The line officers (captains and below) in two of the regiments were Negroes, most of whom were mulattoes.

The white officers were from older New England regiments. However, Yankee racism proved hardly less vicious than rebel racism. Shortly the conquerors squeezed the mulatto officers out of the service on charges of incompetence and reassigned the men to darker regiments where their lightness of skin lost its institutional focus.

This was no isolated incident Negro troops generally were horribly abused by the Union army in Louisiana. One can easily understand that when freedom came, the mulatto elite in Louisiana was more inclined to place their trust in black people than white, either Southern or Northern.

Even before the war was over, the mulatto elite of Louisiana assumed its posture as defender of the freedom. Through its two newspapers in New Orleans, the Union and the Tribune, mulatto leaders labored very effectively to maintain the self-image of the gens de couleur as cultured people, fight discrimination at the hands of the occupying forces, resist white slaveholders of the old order, and build an alliance with the freedmen to insist upon full rights of citizenship for all people of color.

One of these leaders was Louis Charles Roudanez, a well-to-do physician who had attended Dartmouth College and founded the Tribune, the first black newspaper in America to be published daily.

In February 1865 his paper declared the independence of the Negro elite by asserting that “it is not the time to follow in the path of white leaders it is the time to be leader ourselves.” After the war, the mulatto elite of Louisiana steadfastly supported the causes of the black mass, at one point even opposing a measure called “quadroon” bill pressed by the Democratic legislature that would have enfranchised only those of lighter color, specifically themselves, and would have defused pressure to enfranchise all Negro men.

‘Mestizo’ and ‘mulatto’: Mixed-race identities among U.S. Hispanics

For many Americans, the term “mixed race” brings to mind a biracial experience of having one parent black and another white, or perhaps one white and the other Asian.

But for many U.S. Latinos, mixed-race identity takes on a different meaning – one that is tied to Latin America’s colonial history and commonly includes having a white and indigenous, or “mestizo,” background somewhere in their ancestry.

When asked if they identify as “mestizo,” “mulatto” or some other mixed-race combination, one-third of U.S. Hispanics say they do, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults.

The term mestizo means mixed in Spanish, and is generally used throughout Latin America to describe people of mixed ancestry with a white European and an indigenous background. Similarly, the term “mulatto” – mulato in Spanish – commonly refers to a mixed-race ancestry that includes white European and black African roots.

Across Latin America, these are the two terms most commonly used to describe people of mixed-race background. For example, mestizos represent a racial majority in Mexico, most of Central America and the Andean countries of South America.

Mulattos make up smaller shares of the populations in those countries – at most 4%, according to national censuses or other surveys. In Caribbean countries and Brazil, where populations with African ancestry are larger, mulattos make up a larger share of the population – 11% in the Dominican Republic and 47% in Brazil. (A 68% majority in the Dominican Republic identifies as “mestizo/indio.”)

Concepts of multiracial identity have been present in Latin America since colonial times. The Spanish caste system outlined all the different ways the native peoples in New Spain had mixed with Africans and Europeans – and the names and rights associated with each combination. In the early to mid-20th century, a number of countries in Latin America adopted the concept of “mestizaje,” or mixing and blending, and declared their populations mestizo in an effort to eliminate racial conflict and promote national identity.

According to the Pew Research survey of U.S. Hispanics, those who identify as mixed race, mestizo or mulatto are more likely to be U.S. born than those who do not (44% vs. 37%). They are also more likely than Latino adults who do not identify as mixed race to be non-Mexican (45% vs. 36%) and to have a higher educational attainment (45% have some college or more, versus 27%).

The use of these labels to describe mixed-race ancestry is an example of how racial identity among Hispanics often defies conventional classifications used in the U.S. For example, among Hispanic adults we surveyed who say they consider themselves mixed race, mestizo or mulatto, only 13% explicitly select two or more races or volunteer that they are “mixed race” when asked about their racial background in a standard race question (like those asked on U.S. census forms). Instead, about four-in-ten of Hispanic respondents identifying as mestizo/mulatto say their race is white, while one-in-five volunteered their race as Hispanic.


The English term and spelling mulatto is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese mulato. It was a common term in the Southeastern United States during the era of slavery. Some sources suggest that it may derive from the Portuguese word mula (from the Latin mūlus), meaning mule, the hybrid offspring of a horse and a donkey. [10] [11] The Real Academia Española traces its origin to mulo in the sense of hybridity originally used to refer to any mixed race person. [12] The term is now generally considered outdated and offensive in non-Spanish-speaking countries, [13] and was considered offensive even in the 19th century. [14]

Jack D. Forbes suggests it originated in the Arabic term muwallad, which means "a person of mixed ancestry". [15] Muwallad literally means "born, begotten, produced, generated brought up", with the implication of being born and raised among Arabs, but not of Arab blood. Muwallad is derived from the root word WaLaD (Arabic: ولد, direct Arabic transliteration: waw, lam, dal) and colloquial Arabic pronunciation can vary greatly. Walad means, "descendant, offspring, scion child son boy young animal, young one".

In al-Andalus, muwallad referred to the offspring of non-Arab/Muslim people who adopted the Islamic religion and manners. Specifically, the term was historically applied to the descendants of indigenous Christian Iberians who, after several generations of living among a Muslim majority, adopted their culture and religion. Notable examples of this category include the famous Muslim scholar Ibn Hazm. According to Lisan al-Arab, one of the earliest Arab dictionaries (c. 13th century AD), applied the term to the children of non-Muslim (often Christian) slaves or non-Muslim children who were captured in a war and were raised by Muslims to follow their religion and culture. Thus, in this context, the term "muwalad" has a meaning close to "the adopted". According to the same source, the term does not denote being of mixed-race but rather being of foreign-blood and local culture.

In English, printed usage of mulatto dates to at least the 16th century. The 1595 work Drake's Voyages first used the term in the context of intimate unions producing biracial children. The Oxford English Dictionary defined mulatto as "one who is the offspring of a European and a Black". This earliest usage regarded "black" and "white" as discrete "species", with the "mulatto" constituting a third separate "species". [16]

According to Julio Izquierdo Labrado, [17] the 19th-century linguist Leopoldo Eguilaz y Yanguas, as well as some Arabic sources [18] muwallad is the etymological origin of mulato. These sources specify that mulato would have been derived directly from muwallad independently of the related word muladí, a term that was applied to Iberian Christians who had converted to Islam during the Moorish governance of Iberia in the Middle Ages.

The Real Academia Española (Spanish Royal Academy) casts doubt on the muwallad theory. It states, "The term mulata is documented in our diachronic data bank in 1472 and is used in reference to livestock mules in Documentacion medieval de la Corte de Justicia de Ganaderos de Zaragoza, whereas muladí (from mullawadí) does not appear until the 18th century, according to [Joan] Corominas". [nb 1]

Scholars such as Werner Sollors cast doubt on the mule etymology for mulatto. In the 18th and 19th centuries, racialists such as Edward Long and Josiah Nott began to assert that mulattoes were sterile like mules. They projected this belief back onto the etymology of the word mulatto. Sollors points out that this etymology is anachronistic: "The Mulatto sterility hypothesis that has much to do with the rejection of the term by some writers is only half as old as the word 'Mulatto'." [20]

Of São Tomé and Príncipe's 193,413 inhabitants, the largest segment is classified as mestiço, or mixed race. [21] 71% of the population of Cape Verde is also classified as such. [22] The great majority of their current populations descend from unions between the Portuguese, who colonized the islands from the 15th century onward, and black Africans they brought from the African mainland to work as slaves. In the early years, mestiços began to form a third-class between the Portuguese colonists and African slaves, as they were usually bilingual and often served as interpreters between the populations.

In Angola and Mozambique, the mestiço constitute smaller but still important minorities 2% in Angola [23] and 0.2% in Mozambique. [24]

Mulatto and mestiço are not terms commonly used in South Africa to refer to people of mixed ancestry. The persistence of some authors in using this term, anachronistically, reflects the old-school essentialist views of race as a de facto biological phenomenon, and the 'mixing' of race as legitimate grounds for the creation of a 'new race'. This disregards cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity and/or differences between regions and globally among populations of mixed ancestry. [25]

In Namibia, an ethnic group known as Rehoboth Basters, descend from historic liaisons between the Cape Colony Dutch and indigenous African women. The name Baster is derived from the Dutch word for "bastard" (or "crossbreed"). While some people consider this term demeaning, the Basters proudly use the term as an indication of their history. In the early 21st century, they number between 20,000 and 30,000 people. There are, of course, other people of mixed race in the country.

South Africa

In South Africa, Coloured is a term used to refer to individuals with some degree of sub-Saharan ancestry but subjectively 'not enough' to be considered 'black' under the Apartheid era law of South Africa. Today these people self-identify as 'Coloured'. Other Afrikaans terms used include Bruinmense (translates to "brown people"), Kleurlinge (translates to "Coloured") or Bruin Afrikaners (translates to "brown Africans" and is used to distinguish them from the main body of Afrikaners (translates to "African") who are white). Under Apartheid law through the latter half of the 20th century, the government established seven categories of Coloured people: Cape Coloured, Cape Malay, Griqua and Other Coloured - the aim of subdivisions was to enhance the meaning of the larger category of Coloured by making it all encompassing. Legally and politically speaking, all people of colour were classified "black" in the non-racial terms of anti-Apartheid rhetoric of the Black Consciousness Movement. [26]

In addition to European ancestry, the Coloured people usually had some portion of Asian ancestry from immigrants from India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, China and/or Saint Helena. Based on the Population Registration Act to classify people, the government passed laws prohibiting mixed marriages. Many people who classified as belonging to the "Asian" category could legally intermarry with "mixed-race" people because they shared the same nomenclature. [26] There was extensive combining of these diverse heritages in the Western Cape.

In other parts of South Africa and neighboring states, the coloured usually were descendants of two primary ethnic groups - primarily Africans of various tribes and European colonists of various tribes, with generations of coloured forming families. The use of the term 'Coloured' has changed over the course of history. For instance, in the first census after the South African war (1912), Indians were counted as 'Coloured'. But before and after this war, they were counted as 'Asiatic'. [27]

In KwaZulu-Natal, most Coloureds (that were classified as "other coloureds") had British and Zulu heritage. Zimbabwean coloureds were descended from Shona or Ndebele mixing with British and Afrikaner settlers.

Griqua, on the other hand, are descendants of Khoisan and Afrikaner trekboers, with contributions from central Southern African groups. [28] The Griqua were subjected to an ambiguity of other creole people within Southern African social order. According to Nurse and Jenkins (1975), the leader of this "mixed" group, Adam Kok I, was a former slave of the Dutch governor. He was manumitted and provided land outside Cape Town in the eighteenth century. With territories beyond the Dutch East India Company administration, Kok provided refuge to deserting soldiers, refugee slaves, and remaining members of various Khoikhoi tribes. [26]

Afro-European tribes and clans

Mulattoes in colonial Spanish America

Africans were transported by Portuguese slave traders to Spanish America starting in the early 16th century. Offspring of Spaniards and African women resulted early on in mixed-race children, termed Mulattoes. In Spanish law, the status of the child followed that of the mother, so that despite having a Spanish parent, their offspring were enslaved. The label Mulatto was recorded in official colonial documentation, so that marriage registers, censuses, and court documents allow research on different aspects of mulattoes’ lives. Although some legal documents simply label a person a Mulatto/a, other designations occurred. In the sales of casta slaves in 17th-century Mexico City, official notaries recorded gradations of skin color in the transactions. These included mulato blanco or mulata blanca (white mulatto), for light-skinned slave. These were usually American-born (criollo) slaves. Some said categorized persons i.e.m 'mulata blanca.' used their light skin to their advantage if they escaped their unlawful and brutal incarceration from their criminal slave owners, thus 'passing' as free persons of color. Mulatos blancos often emphasized their Spanish parentage, and considered themselves and were considered separate from negros or pardos and ordinary mulattoes. Darker mulatto slaves were often termed mulatos prietos or sometimes mulatos cochos. [29] In Chile, along with mulatos blancos, there were also españoles oscuros (dark Spaniards). [30]

There was considerable malleability and manipulation of racial labeling, including the seemingly stable category of mulatto. In a case that came before the Mexican Inquisition, a woman publicly identified as a mulatta was described by a Spanish priest, Diego Xaimes Ricardo Villavicencio, as "a white mulata with curly hair, because she is the daughter of a dark-skinned mulata and a Spaniard, and for her manner of dress she has flannel petticoats and a native blouse (huipil), sometimes silken, sometimes woolen. She wears shoes, and her natural and common language is not Spanish, but Chocho [an indigenous Mexican language], as she was brought up among Indians with her mother, from which she contracted the vice of drunkenness, to which she often succumbs, as Indians do, and from them she has also received the crime of [idolatry]." Community members were interrogated as to their understanding of her racial standing. Her mode of dress, very wavy hair and light skin confirmed for one witness that she was a mulatta. Ultimately though, her rootedness in the indigenous community persuaded the Inquisition that she was an India, and therefore outside of their jurisdiction. [31] Even though the accused had physical features of a mulatta, her cultural category was more important. In colonial Latin America, mulatto could also refer to an individual of mixed African and Native American ancestry, but the term zambo was more consistently used for that racial mixture. [32]

Dominican friar Thomas Gage spent over a decade in the Viceroyalty of New Spain in the early 17th century he converted to Anglicanism and later wrote of his travels, often disparaging Spanish colonial society and culture. In Mexico City, he observed in considerable detail the opulence of dress of women, writing that "The attire of this baser sort of people of blackamoors and mulattoes (which are of a mixed nature, of Spaniards and blackamoors) is so light, and their carriage so enticing, that many Spaniards even of the better sort (who are too too [sic] prone to venery) disdain their wives for them. Most of these are or have been slaves, though love have set them loose, at liberty to enslave souls to sin and Satan." [33]

In the late 18th century, some mixed-race persons sought legal "certificates of whiteness" (cédulas de gracias al sacar), in order to rise socially and practice professions. American-born Spaniards (criollos) sought to prevent the approval of such petitions, since the "purity" of their own whiteness would be in jeopardy. They asserted their "purity of blood" (limpieza de sangre) as white persons who had "always been known, held and commonly reputed to be white persons, Old Christians of the nobility, clean of all bad blood and without any mixture of commoner, Jew, Moor, Mulatto, or converso in any degree, no matter how remote." [34] Spaniards both American- and Iberian-born discriminated against pardos and mulattoes because of their "bad blood." One Cuban sought the grant of his petition in order to practice as a surgeon, a profession from which he was barred because of his mulatto designation. Royal laws and decrees prevented pardos and mulattoes from serving as a public notary, lawyer, pharmacist, ordination to the priesthood, or graduation from university. Mulattas declared white could marry a Spaniard. [35]


Casta painting of a Spaniard, a Negra and a Mulatto. José de Alcíbar, 18th c. Mexico

De Español y Negra, Mulato. Anon. 18th c.

De Español y Negra, Mulato. José Joaquín Magón. 18th c. Mexico

De Español y Negra, Mulato. Anon.

De negro y española, sale mulato (From a Black man and a Spanish woman, a Mulatto is begotten). Anon.

De Español y Mulata, Morisca. Anon. 1799

De Mulata y Español, Morisca, Juan Patricio Morlete. 18th c. Mexico

De Negro y Mulata, Zambo. 18th c. Peru

Mulattoes in the modern era

Mulattoes represent a significant part of the population of various Latin American and Caribbean countries, [36] including the Dominican Republic (12.4%), [36] [nb 2] Brazil (49.1% mixed-race, Gypsy and Black, Mulattoes (20.5%), Mestiços, Mamelucos or Caboclos (21.3%), Blacks (7.1%) and Eurasian (0.2%)), [37] [38] Belize (25%), Colombia (10,4%), [36] Cuba (24.86%), [36] and Haiti (5%). [36]

Although mulattoes, and even full-blooded Africans, did once represent a portion of the population in countries such as Mexico and Honduras, they were absorbed there by the mestizo populations of mixed European and Native American descent.

In modern Europe, there is now a slowly emerging community of contemporary mulattoes not associated with the centuries of history of those born before them. These are the offspring of current European citizens and recent African immigrants across several European countries.


Genomic ancestry of individuals in Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul state) Sérgio Pena et al. 2011 . [39]
Color Amerindian African European
White 9.3% 5.3% 85.5%
Pardo 15.4% 42.4% 42.2%
Black 11% 45.9% 43.1%
Total 9.6% 12.7% 77.7%
Genomic ancestry of individuals in Ilhéus (Bahia state) Sérgio Pena et al. 2011 . [39]
Color Amerindian African European
White 8.8% 24.4% 66.8%
Pardo 11.9% 28.8% 59.3%
Black 10.1% 35.9% 53.9%
Total 9.1% 30.3% 60.6%
Genomic ancestry of individuals in Belém (Pará state) Sérgio Pena et al. 2011 . [39]
Color Amerindian African European
White 14.1% 7.7% 78.2%
Pardo 20.9% 10.6% 68.6%
Black 20.1% 27.5% 52.4%
Total 19.4% 10.9% 69.7%
Genomic ancestry of individuals in Fortaleza (Ceará state) Sérgio Pena et al. 2011 . [39]
Color Amerindian African European
White 10.9% 13.3% 75.8%
Pardo 12.8% 14.4% 72.8%
Black N.S. N.S. N.S

Autosomal DNA studies (tables above and below) have shown the Brazilian population as a whole tends to have European, African and Native American components.

A 2015 autosomal genetic study, which also analysed data of 25 studies of 38 different Brazilian populations concluded that: European ancestry accounts for 62% of the heritage of the population, followed by the African (21%) and the Native American (17%). The European contribution is highest in Southern Brazil (77%), the African highest in Northeast Brazil (27%) and the Native American is the highest in Northern Brazil (32%). [40]

Region [40] European African Native American
North Region 51% 16% 32%
Northeast Region 58% 27% 15%
Central-West Region 64% 24% 12%
Southeast Region 67% 23% 10%
South Region 77% 12% 11%

An autosomal study from 2013, with nearly 1300 samples from all of the Brazilian regions, found a predominant degree of European ancestry combined with African and Native American contributions, in varying degrees. 'Following an increasing North to South gradient, European ancestry was the most prevalent in all urban populations (with values up to 74%). The populations in the North consisted of a significant proportion of Native American ancestry that was about two times higher than the African contribution. Conversely, in the Northeast, Center-West and Southeast, African ancestry was the second most prevalent. At an intrapopulation level, all urban

populations were highly admixed, and most of the variation in ancestry proportions was observed between individuals within each population rather than among population'. [41]

Region [42] European African Native American
North Region 51% 17% 32%
Northeast Region 56% 28% 16%
Central-West Region 58% 26% 16%
Southeast Region 61% 27% 12%
South Region 74% 15% 11%

An autosomal DNA study (2011), with nearly 1000 samples from all over the country ("whites", "pardos" and "blacks", according to their respective proportions), found a major European contribution, followed by a high African contribution and an important Native American component. [39] "In all regions studied, the European ancestry was predominant, with proportions ranging from 60.6% in the Northeast to 77.7% in the South". [43] The 2011 autosomal study samples came from blood donors (the lowest classes constitute the great majority of blood donors in Brazil [44] ), and also public health institutions' personnel and health students. The study showed that Brazilians from different regions are more homogenous than previously thought by some based on the census alone. "Brazilian homogeneity is, therefore, a lot greater between Brazilian regions than within Brazilian regions". [45]

Region [39] European African Native American
Northern Brazil 68.80% 10.50% 18.50%
Northeast of Brazil 60.10% 29.30% 8.90%
Southeast Brazil 74.20% 17.30% 7.30%
Southern Brazil 79.50% 10.30% 9.40%

According to a DNA study from 2010, "a new portrayal of each ethnicity contribution to the DNA of Brazilians, obtained with samples from the five regions of the country, has indicated that, on average, European ancestors are responsible for nearly 80% of the genetic heritage of the population. The variation between the regions is small, with the possible exception of the South, where the European contribution reaches nearly 90%. The results, published by the scientific magazine American Journal of Human Biology by a team of the Catholic University of Brasília, show that in Brazil, physical indicators such as skin colour, colour of the eyes and colour of the hair have little to do with the genetic ancestry of each person, which has been shown in previous studies (regardless of census classification). [46] "Ancestry informative SNPs can be useful to estimate individual and population biogeographical ancestry. Brazilian population is characterized by a genetic background of three parental populations (European, African, and Brazilian Native Amerindians) with a wide degree and diverse patterns of admixture. In this work we analyzed the information content of 28 ancestry-informative SNPs into multiplexed panels using three parental population sources (African, Amerindian, and European) to infer the genetic admixture in an urban sample of the five Brazilian geopolitical regions. The SNPs assigned apart the parental populations from each other and thus can be applied for ancestry estimation in a three hybrid admixed population. Data was used to infer genetic ancestry in Brazilians with an admixture model. Pairwise estimates of F(st) among the five Brazilian geopolitical regions suggested little genetic differentiation only between the South and the remaining regions. Estimates of ancestry results are consistent with the heterogeneous genetic profile of Brazilian population, with a major contribution of European ancestry (0.771) followed by African (0.143) and Amerindian contributions (0.085). The described multiplexed SNP panels can be useful tool for bioanthropological studies but it can be mainly valuable to control for spurious results in genetic association studies in admixed populations". [47] It is important to note that "the samples came from free of charge paternity test takers, thus as the researchers made it explicit: "the paternity tests were free of charge, the population samples involved people of variable socioeconomic strata, although likely to be leaning slightly towards the ‘‘pardo’’ group". [48]

Region [48] European African Native American
North Region 71.10% 18.20% 10.70%
Northeast Region 77.40% 13.60% 8.90%
Central-West Region 65.90% 18.70% 11.80%
Southeast Region 79.90% 14.10% 6.10%
South Region 87.70% 7.70% 5.20%

An autosomal DNA study from 2009 found a similar profile: "all the Brazilian samples (regions) lie more closely to the European group than to the African populations or to the Mestizos from Mexico". [49]

Region [50] European African Native American
North Region 60.6% 21.3% 18.1%
Northeast Region 66.7% 23.3% 10.0%
Central-West Region 66.3% 21.7% 12.0%
Southeast Region 60.7% 32.0% 7.3%
South Region 81.5% 9.3% 9.2%

According to another autosomal DNA study from 2008, by the University of Brasília (UnB), European ancestry dominates in the whole of Brazil (in all regions), accounting for 65.90% of heritage of the population, followed by the African contribution (24.80%) and the Native American (9.3%). [51]

Studies carried out by the geneticist Sergio Pena estimated the average white Brazilian also to have African and Native American ancestries, on average, this way: is 80% European, 10% Amerindian, and 10% African/black. [52] Another study, carried out by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, concludes the average white Brazilian is (>70%) European. [53]

According to the IBGE 2000 census, 38.5% of Brazilians identified as pardo, i.e. of mixed ancestry. [54] [55] This figure includes mulatto and other multiracial people, such as people who have European and Amerindian ancestry (called caboclos), as well as assimilated, westernized Amerindians, and mestizos with some Asian ancestry. A majority of mixed-race Brazilians have all three ancestries: Amerindian, European, and African. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics census 2006, some 42.6% of Brazilian identify as pardo, an increase over the 2000 census. [56]

According to genetic studies, some of those who identify as White Brazilians (48.4%) also have some mixed-race ancestry (both Subsaharan African and Amerindian ancestry). Brazilians who identify as de raça negra or de cor preta, i.e. Brazilians of Black African origin, make up 6.9% of the population genetic studies show their average total ancestry is still mixed: 40% African, 50% European, and 10% Amerindian, but they likely grew up within visibly black communities.

Such autosomal DNA studies, which measure total genetic contribution, continue to reveal differences between how individuals identify, which is usually based in family and close community, with genetic ancestry, which may relate to a distant past they know little about. [57] [58] An autosomal DNA study from Rio de Janeiro poor periphery showed that self-perception and real ancestry may not go hand in hand. "The results of the tests of genomic ancestry are quite different from the self made estimates of European ancestry", say the researchers. The test results showed that the proportion of European genetic ancestry was higher than students expected. When questioned before the test, students who identified as "pardos", for example, identified as 1/3 European, 1/3 African and 1/3 Amerindian. [59] [60] On the other hand, students classified as "white" tended to overestimate their proportion of African and Amerindian genetic ancestry. [59]

Mulattoes - History

“ A Rose by any other name is a Cactus”

- defining mixed-blood Indians in colonial Virginia and the Carolinas

Augusta County , VA (Orders 1773-1779)

19 AUG 1777…. Nat, an Indian boy in the custody of Mary Greenlee who detains him as a slave complains that he is held in unlawful slavery. Commission to take depositions in Carolina or elsewhere.

17 SEP 1777….On the complaint of Nat an Indian or Mustee Boy who says he is to be set free from service of Mary Greenlee…nothing appeared to this Court but a bill of sale for ten pounds from one Sherwood Harris of Granville County, NC that through several assignments was made over to James Greenlee deceased, late husband to the said Mary…. said Mulattoe or Indian Boy is a free man and no slave.

( Nat was most likely half-Indian, so therefore Mulatto or Mustee could be used interchangeably, use of these terms were influenced by the status of his servitude)

Charles City County , VA (Orders 1687-95)

DEC 1690…. Thomas Mayo an Indian belonging to Jno. Evans is adjudged 14 years old.

Chesterfield County , VA (Orders 1767-71)

6 APR 1770…On motion of Sibbell, an Indian woman held in slavery by Joseph Ashbrooke, have leave to prosecute for her freedom in forma pauperis.

- Sibbell an Indian wench V. Joseph Ashbrooke, for pltf. To take deposition of Elizabeth Blankenship and Thomas Womack.

- Sybill a Mulatto V. Joseph Ashbrooke – dismissed.

(Sibell was most likely less than full blooded Indian…she was described as Indian up to the point it was determined that she was legally a slave, then she was described as mulatto…use of the term is influenced by the status of her servitude)

18 AUG 1794. registered free papers of “Nancy Coleman a dark brown, well made mulatto woman ..freed by judgement of the Gen’l Court of John Hrdaway being a descendant of an Indian .”

10 FEB 1798…registered free papers of “Daniel Coleman a dark brown free Negro, or Indian…formerly held as a slave by Joseph Hardaway but obtained his freedom by a judgment of the Gen’l Court.”

14 AUG 1800…registered free papers of “Hagar Jumper a dark brown Mulatto or Indian woman short bushy hair, obtained her freedom from Stephen Dance as being a descendant of an Indian .”

27 MAY 1805…registered free papers of “Betty Coleman a dark brown Negro woman… formerly held as a slave by John Hardaway…liberated by judgment of the Gen’l Court as descended of an Indian .”

7 MAR 1756…Elizabeth, daughter of Ruth Matthews, a free mulattoe , baptized by the Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish.

26 SEP 1757….Cumberland County Court to bind out the children of Ruth Matthews, an Indian woman , to William Fleming.

(Ruth is described as ‘a free mulatto’ at one time, ‘an Indian’ at another.)

5 MAY 1712…..Thomas Chamberlayne brings before this Court his servant Mulatto man Robin and informed the Court that he hath several times run away. Ordered to serve one year from (release date).

- Robin Indian (filed) against Major Chamberlayne…next Court.

FEB 1712…. Robin Indian ordered free from Thomas Chamberlayne’s service at end of year’s service.

MARCH 1713….Thomas Chamberlayne against his servant Robin Mulatto hath unlawfully absented himself for 16 weeks.

(Robin is described as Mulatto until he is determined to be illegally held as a slave, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude…his former master tactfully uses the term Mulatto to influence the Court to return him to slavery)

APR 1722… Peg an Indian woman servant belonging to Richard Ligon appeared…be adjudged free..he be summoned.

JUN 1722… Peg a Mulatto servant born in this County whose mother was an Indian intitled to freedom at the age of thirty years, having petitioned for her freedom against her master Richard Ligon.

(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

JAN 1737….petition of Tom a Mulatto or Mustee setting forth that he is the grandson of a white free woman and hast a just right to freedom but that his master Alexander Trent contrary to law or equity detains him in slavery.

(the terms Mulatto and Mustee are used here interchangeably)

JUL 1739…On the petition of Indian Jamey alias James Musttie is exempted from paying County Levyes.

NOV 1740…petition of Thomas Baugh it is ordered that the Church Wardens of Dale Parish do bind out Joe a Mulatto the son of Nan an Indian woman according to law.

(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

18 NOV 1747….will of Richard Randolph…to my son John the third part of my slaves, he taking my two Negroes, Indian John and Essex as a part of his third which two Negroes I propose he should have.

(an Indian is described here as a ‘Negro’…the term is influenced by his servitude)

2 DEC 1754….Church wardens of Henrico Parish do bind out Ezekiel Scott and Sarah Scott, children of John Scott, Tommy son of Indian Nan , Henry Cockran son of John Cockran, and Isham Roughton an Indian according to Law.

5 MAR 1759….Ordered that the Church Wardens of Henrico Parish bind out Ben Scott and Roger an Indian Boy according to Law.

Lunenburg County, VA (Orders 1748-52)

JUL 1749…..Dublin an Indian of the Tugyebugg Nation came into Court and petitioned for her freedom, she being held in slavery.

10 APR 1764…will of Patrick Belches…”to my wife Judy Belches all my land in Louisa..also the following Negroes to wit Indian Ben and wife Beck Kinney and their son Thom.”

1798…..Kinney family released from slavery based on testimony on William Denton that they descended from an Indian woman named Joan Kenny who was an elderly woman in 1729 and she came from the Indian town on Pamunkey.

(Indian Ben and Beck Kinney described as “Negroes’, later released based on being Indians. the term is based on their servitude)

OCT 1713…trial for examining George an Indian Mulatto criminal…inhabitant of Wiccomocoe Indian Town..for murdering Allen Dorrett…confesses he struck him with a stake…John Veazey carried him into the house of Indian John.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)

Will Book Liber M, 1729-48….will of George Crosby…I bequeth unto George Crosby junior the son of my son George, one Indian mulatto woman Frank & her increase as also one Indian mulatto boy Jno Cooper.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)

2 JUL 1659…I Kinge of the Waineoaks doe firmely bargaine and make sale unto Elith Short her heires a boy of my Nacon named Weetoppin…until the full term of his life in consideration (of) a younge horse foale aged one yeare.

(not only did Indians sell their war captives into slavery, but they even sold their own)

20 MAR 1712….will of Francis Maybury…to wife Elizabeth, one Indian man named Robin and one Indian boy Jack and a mulatto girl .

20 AUG 1712…inventory of estate of Francis Maybury….two Indian slaves and one Indian Mulatto.

(girl first described as a mulatto later described as an Indian mulatto)

1741-1745….. Robin a Negro Man now in possession of Thomas Cocke, Gent., petitioning for leave to sue for his freedom.

- Robin, an Indian Plt. Against Thomas Cocke Genbt. Deft. In Trespass Assault and false imprisonment…We find that James Jones late of Prince George County in the year of our Lord 1693 was in the possession of an Indian girl named Sarah as a slave and that we did find the said girl in the year aforesaid was 4 years old. We find that the parents and Native Country of the sd. girl were Heathens and Idolators. We find that the aforesaid girl did live and die in the service of the aforesaid James Jones as a slave. We find that the Plt. Robin is the issue of the aforesaid Indian Sarah.

(Robin is described as a Negro until he proves his Indian descent, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude)

1818…..”James Hix, a free man of color , brown complexion 34 years old, born free of Indian mother per certificate from Sussex County.”

(non-white persons are held under suspicion of servitude, and thus Negro ancestry, until proven otherwise)

29 JAN 1700…..James Loggin, an Indian Mulatto, bound to Henry Wharton until the age of 21 by the Court.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)

“In 1761, The Rev. Alex Stewart baptized 7 Indians and mixed-blood children of the Attamusket, Hatteras, and Roanoke tribes and 2 years later he baptized 21 more .” – Swanton

1857…..a William Chavers (Chavis) was arrested and charged as a “ free person of color ” with carrying a shotgun, a violation on NC state law. He was convicted, but promptly appealed, claiming that the law restricted free Negroes not persons of color. The appeals court reversed the lower Court finding that, “ Free persons of color may be, then, for all we can see, persons colored by Indian blood, or persons descended from Negro ancestors beyond the fourth degree .”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category still exists in mid-1800’s)

1871……The North Carolina Joint Senate and House Committee interviewed Robeson County Judge Giles Leitch about the “ free persons of color ” residing within his county:

Senate: Half of the colored population?

Leitch: Yes sir half of the colored population of Robeson County were never slaves at all…

Senate : What are they are they Negroes ?

Leitch : Well sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can but I do not know what they are I

think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian ….

Senate : You think they are mixed Negroes and Indians?

Leitch : I do not think that in that class of population there is much Negro blood at all : of that

half of the colored population that I have attempted to decribe all have always been

free… They are called ‘Mulattoes’ that is the name they are known by, as

contradistinguished from Negroes … I think they are of Indian origin .

Senate : I understand you to say that these seven or eight hundred persons that you designate

as mulattoes are not Negroes but are a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish , white

blood and Indian blood you think they are not generally Negroes?

Leitch : I do not think the Negro blood predominates.

Senate : the word ‘mulatto’ means a cross between the white and the Negro?

Senate : You do not mean the word to be understood in that sense when applied to these people?

Leitch : I really do not know how to describe those people.

(Even person not considered to bear Negro ancestry could be called Mulattoes as late as the 1870’s….the term ‘Portuguese’ used here to infer Spanish and Indian ancestry….’Portuguese’ also used by persons of North Carolina origin residing in South Carolina, Tennessee, etc. to describe mixed Indian-white persons from the NC?VA border area during this same time period.)

17 APR 1752…Run away from the subscriber, living in Hanover County, about the middle of March last, a young Indian fellow, named Ned , about 20 years of age, pretends to pass as a freeman.

(Ned’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

14 APR 1768…. Isaac an Indian Slave aged about 40 years, run away from my plantation on George’s Creek in Buckingham. He was born and lived many years on the Brook of Chickahominy, and has some connexions in Goochland , where he may probably be at present . He wore long curled hair before his elopement, but his countenance and disposition are altogether Indian .

2 AUG 1770…..Committed to the prison of York, a Negro Boy, who says he is free and was born in the Indian Town on Pamunkee River .

(York ’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

23 NOV 1770….Prince George County…Runaway from the subscriber on Monday the 19 th , a negro fellow named Frank … of a yellow complexion .. He has a wife among the Indians, at Indian Town on Pamunkey River .

24 SEP 1772….committed to the public jail, from James City prison, a runaway woman named Molly, she belongs to Charles Budd of Charles City County…about 40 years old, has a prominent nose and by her complexion would pass for one of the Indian Race .

26 NOV 1772…Runaway from the subscriber in Cumberland a Mulatto Man named Jim who is a slave but pretends to have a right to his freedom. His father was an Indian of the name of Cheshire, and very likely will call himself James Cheshire, or Chink. He is a short well set fellow, about twenty seven years of age, with long black hair resembling an Indians.

(Use of Mulatto to describe Indian half-blood….use of term influenced by his servitude)

3 DEC 1772…Committed to the jail of Surry County, a Negro Man who says his name is Tom, and that he belongs to Benjamin Clements of Sussex… appears to be of the Indian Breed .

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as a Negro)

13 JUL 1773….Runaway from the subscriber a Mulatto Slave named David… says he is of the Indian Breed , and went down to the General Court, as I imagine to sue for his freedom, but has never returned.

(David’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

11 NOV 1773…Run away from the subscriber, last month, a Negro Man of the name Tom…of a yellowish complexion, much the appearance of an Indian …His hair is a different kind from that of a Negro’s, rather more of an Indian’s , but partaking of both.

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as a Negro)

11 MAR 1775….Run away from the subscriber…a very bright Mulatto Man named Stephen…his wife Phebe went away with him, a remarkable white Indian woman .

6 JAN 1776…Run way from the subcriber..Harry, Virginia Born, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, 30 years of age, a dark Mulatto , with long bushy hair, he is of the Indian Breed.

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as Mulatto)

2 DEC 1775…Bute County, NC…Run away from William Tabb, a slave named Charles, of the Indian Breed , about 23 years of age, with straight black hair, light complexion, raised in George County, VA.

1731…Special meeting of the South Carolina House of Commons after a member had announced that “ Free colored men with their white wives have immigrated from Virginia with the intention of settling on the Santee River.”, report of Governor Robert Johnson: “I have had them before me in council and upon examination find that they are not Negroes nor slaves but free people , that the father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his father was also free…”

1753….. Will of Alexander Wood, of St. James Goose Creek Parish, Planter, to his half-breed Indian Slaves named Dukey Cox and George Cox, born of his Indian slave named Jenny, and Minerva Watkins, born of his Indian Slave named Moll, manumission upon his death

1794….Issac Linagear, Isaac Mitchell, Joanthan Price, Spencer Bolton, William N. Swett, and 29 other “ free persons of color seek to repeal the Act for imposing a poll tax on all Free negroes, Mustees, and Mulattoes . They wish to support the government, but the poll tax caused great hardship among free women of color , especially widows with large families. Tax collectors hunted them down and extorted payments.”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category)

25 JUL 1795…A South Carolinian advertised in the North Carolina Central and Fayetteville Gazette….”$10 Reward to deliver to the subscriber in Georgetown, a Mustie servant woman named Nancy Oxendine, she is a stout wench, of a light complexion about 30 years old. It is supposed she has been travels away by her brother and sister, the latter lives in Fayetteville.”

Tennessee 1832….Madison County….” free man of color , Richard Matthews, seeks permission to marry a white woman. Matthews says he is of the Portuguese blood .”

(see Goochland County, VA for the Matthews family.) 1843…..McMinn County…George Sherman arrived in the state in 1839 and now asks permission to remain. “A certificate signed by a notary public in New York states that he is of Mulatto complexion with wooly hair and is an Indian, one of the Narragansett tribe . ”

(an Indian described as having a Mulatto complexion)

1853 to 58 Claiborne County….suit pressed by school teacher Elijoh Goins, who alleged that his daughter’s husband “spoke false, malicious, scandalous and defamatory words saying the plaintiff was a mulatto , meaning a person of mixed blood one degree removed from a full blood Negro as reason of which several grievances the plaintiff hath been greatly damaged and subjected to the suspicion disgrace and insult to a family of a person of mixed blood .”

26 NOV 1722…residents of Northampton County, VA, petitioned the Court complaining “That a great number of Free Negroes Inhabiting within this County are great Grievances most particularly because the Negro Women pay no Taxes.” Virginina passed a law in May 1723 “That all free negros, mulattos, or Indians except tributary Indians to this government male and female, above the age of sixteen, and all wives of such Negroes, mulattos, or Indians shall be accounted tithables.”

1738…North Carolina “AN ACT to Prevent the concealment of the Tithables in the Several Countys within this Province” defines tithables as “every white Person Male of the age sixteen Years and upwards all Negroes Mulattoes Mustees Male or female and all Persons of Mixt Blood to the fourth Generation Male and Female of the Age of Twelve years and upwards.”

1749….North Carolina tithable law is amended to include “all White Persons intermarrying with any Negro, mulatto, or mustee, or other Person of Mixt Blood .”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category)

1802….In the North Carolina case Gobu v. Gobu, the judge stated “I acquiesce in the rule laid down by the defendant’s counsel, with respect to the presumption of every black person being a slave. It is so, because Negroes originally brought to this country were slaves, and their descendants must continue slaves until manumitted by proper authority. If therefore a person of that description claims his freedom, he must establish his right to it by such evidence as will destroy the force of the presumption arising from his color .”

(all dark skinned persons are presumed to be descended from Negroes)

Copyright ©2005 Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved.

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Copyright ©2005 Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved, and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same without written permission of the author. It may be used in your family history or genealogy, for which purpose it was intended.

Free Negroes & Mulattoes Registrations

Pictured: Reuben Brown (registered 21 MAR 1844), wife Susan W. Harris Brown (registered 20 JUL 1848) and their children, including sons Braxton and Powhatan (registered 18 OCT 1860). The Brown family left Charles City for Ohio before the start of the Civil War.

The registration of free Negroes and Mulattoes began in Virginia in 1793 with passage of a law that required free persons of color to register with the Clerk of Court in the county where they resided and to carry their “free papers” with them at all times. Although the legal definition of Mulatto changed over time, as first enacted in 1705, the term Mulatto applied to a person who was one-eighth (or more) Negro or one-half Indian. By 1866 one-quarter Negro blood made a person “colored,” whereas one-quarter Indian blood made a person Indian. If records have survived registrations of free Negroes and Mulattoes commonly appear in two places namely, in the court minute or order books recording the actions taken by the court when in session and in a separate register which lists registrants by their certificate number.

The earliest registers of Charles City free Negroes and Mulattoes have been lost, but a register begun in 1836 which re-recorded earlier granted certificates has survived and is available on microfilm through the Library of Virginia. The 1836 register identifies a total of 802 residents issued certificates of freedom prior to the Civil War.

The registrations contained in this digital archive – nearly 800 — were abstracted from the Charles City County Court Minute and Order Books spanning the time period between 1823 and 1864. The abstracts were first published in the Charles City County Historical Society Newsletter, issues 9, 14, 15, 16 and 17 and are reproduced in this format with the express permission of the Historical Society. These registrations contain the same sorts of information that would have appeared in the registers as well as the names of the white residents who sponsored, or testified to the applicant’s free status.

The Price of Being Born of Mixed-Race During Slavery

It is easy to think of mixed children during #slavery as the product of white slave owners, white overseers, and African slave women. The truth is not all mixed-raced children were the result of the African women being raped. A free woman of color could have had a child or children fathered by a white man. The biracial children in this case were considered free it was the mother’s status that determined whether a child was free or not. “The child’s status determination was due to the 1662 law “in the case of a child one of whose parents was free and one slave, the status of the offspring followed that of the mother,” (Foner 52), these children would often then become their father’s property.

White women did not just have a new found revelation and start loving the arms of a #black man. Many white women and black men also had affairs, more often than expected. The offspring of these couples were also considered free since, the mother’s status of slavery or freedom was the determining factor. No, mix-raced children did not have it easy, just because the color of the skin. In actuality, these children had a difficult life, very rarely were they accepted by the white communities or the black communities. Most white fathers usually denied that a slave’s light-skinned offspring was his, even though sometimes the resemblance could not be denied.

“The poor white children of the slave mother are sold like brutes to the highest bidder, by their worse than brute father, while their free born brothers and sisters, who are not whiter than they in complexion, or purer in heart, inherit the father’s wealth, and enjoy the blessings of that freedom which is the choicest earthly gift from God to man. Thus slavery degrades and makes fiendish the dearest relations and the purest instincts of humanity. “(MerryCoz)

A mixed-child born to a white woman was often abandoned or sold secretly. If the children were the product of a slave owner’s dalliance with a slave woman, they received the same enslaved treatment as any other slave, and were also looked upon with contempt by their mistresses. The children would often be singled out for all sorts of abuse from forcing them to wait on their white half-siblings to enduring physical mistreatment.

Mixed-race women were particularly sought after by white men. Their fairer complexion often gave them more attractive features, and white men desired to buy them and use them as concubines. After the Civil War, most people of mixed-race, especially if they resembled the white parent in skin tone and other features, simply moved away from the area in which they were born. They could often ‘pass,’ as the term was at the time, meaning to claim that they were not racially mixed. Many would form new identities and create a new life for themselves never looking back.

Indian Mulattoes – Exceptions That Defy the Rule

Use as a legal principle: If even one exception can be proven it calls into question the entire rule.

In this report I will demonstrate the root meanings of the term “mulatto”, the legal basis that required census enumerators to lump all persons of mixed ancestry into the “M” category, and even touch on the politically motivated use of the “M” label to separate non-reservation Natives from their separate political status.

The etymology of “Mulatto” may derive from “mulato”, the Spanish and Portuguese word. The Spanish and Portuguese version has origins in the Latin “mulus”, meaning mule, the offspring of a horse and a donkey. Other scholars trace “Mulatto” to originating with the Arabic “mullwallad” which translates to “a person of mixed ancestry”.

There has been an excess recently of amateur historians, politically motivated ‘expert witnesses’, and puppet-stringed politicians who have, when addressing the various non-federally recognized Indian communities of the southeast, regurgitated the following statement:

‘Their ancestors were not recorded as ‘Indian’ but instead as ‘mulatto’.”

These ‘experts’ perpetuate the modern definition of the label i.e. that a “mulatto” is a person with “one Black parent and one White parent” while blindly ignoring its historic usage. By assuming this restrictive definition of the term they disregard the word’s historic etymology, as well as the widespread formal, and informal, use of “mulatto” to describe any person of mixed ancestry during the Colonial, and even well into the antebellum, period.

The Jim Crow era produced no greater champion of this constricted interpretation of “mulatto” than Walter Plecker, first registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, and an avowed white supremist and advocate of eugenics. Plecker drafted and lobbied for the passage of Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act, which required the state to only recognize two races: White and Black. After the passage of the law, Plecker used the historic recording of acculturated and/or mixed Native Americans as “mulatto” as singular justification to legally deny their self-identification as “Indian”. Plecker personally oversaw the alteration of all Virginia birth certificates, death certificates, and voter registries removing “Indian” to be replaced with “Negro”.

More modernly, and following closely in the footsteps of Plecker, is the equally misguided Paul Heinegg. Heinegg, an engineer with no formal ethnological or genealogical training, became interested in the documentation of “free persons of color” after marrying an African American woman. What began as a personal curiosity regarding his spouse’s mixed ancestry soon blossomed into a personal crusade to demonstrate that all “free persons of color” and “mulattos” were actually nothing more than the offspring of White and Black miscegenation. In 1991 he published “Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia”, a giant compilation of court, tax, and land records of colonial era families.

While his work is indeed an impressive compilation of historic records, Heinegg at best completely ignores the rigid standards of professional genealogy, and at worst alters the spelling of surnames, ties together family groups with no evidence of their relation, changes “mulatto” or “mixed” in some records to read “free negro”, and completely edits out “Indian” identification in a large number of records.

I will include, for the sake of brevity, just one example here of the typical substandard material published by Heinegg. Within the following insert, I will add author notes within brackets [ ] to point out the inferior research techniques:

Jacob Lockeleer, born say 1636, was a Frenchman who arrived in Virginia without an indenture and was bound to Edward Diggs, Esquire, for four years. He completed his indenture in York County, Virginia, on 24 April 1660 [DWO 4:86, 89]. He may have been the ancestor of the Locklears who were early residents of Lunenburg County, Virginia, and Edgecombe County, North Carolina. [Notice the “may have been”. This is a basic genealogy ‘no-no’. If you can’t document a direct link then you should not publish it. Heinegg’s material is fraught with “may have been” and “most likely”, phrases that are red flags for even the most novice of genealogists.] They were taxed as mixed-race in Bladen and Granville counties, North Carolina, in the 1760’s. In 1895 Mrs. Mary C. Norment in her book, The Lowrie History, claimed that Bettie Locklayer was “a half-breed Tuscarora Indian woman.” In the twentieth century they were among those light skinned people in Robeson County who were called “Lumbee Indians.” [Why the insertion of “light skinned?” Early photographs and physical descriptions of members of the Locklear family describe them as quite swarthy. Heinegg here is obviously blowing the dog whistle of suspected African ancestry when no such evidence exists.] However, it is more likely that they were already a mixture of African, European, and perhaps Native American when they came to North Carolina.[Notice the use of “and perhaps” leading to “Native American,” and obvious tip off that Heinegg intends to downplay anything other than African-European admixture.] Certainly, their white and African American neighbors considered them “free Negroes.” [The preceding two sentences are entirely Heinegg’s opinion, not based on any documentation, however he feels compelled to include them here in hopes they will be accepted as fact.] William Chavis charged “Thomas Lockery … Free Negro” with trespass in Granville County court in 1770. [Notice here how Heinegg stealthily slips in a reference to a documented “Free Negro” in hopes that the reader will ignore that the “Lockery” surname is not the same as “Locklear” and fails to prove any connection between this “Lockery” of Granville and the Locklears of other areas of the Carolinas. Furthermore, I will demonstrate below how one White contemporary of the same individuals Heinegg here specifically mentions, described them as “largely of Indian blood” and having “not a drop of negro blood”, yet Heinegg does not mention this, hoping to keep the reader ignorant of the historical record.]”

Since first publishing this compilation, and subsequently circulating a web-based version of the book on his website freeafricanamericans.com, Heinegg has edited a lion’s share of his materials. In most cases having to remove entire “family lines”, he has been forced to revise much of his earlier printed claims when independent researchers have viewed the actual source documentation and challenged his haphazard connections of family groups. Sadly the damage has already been done in most respects.

A far larger wrongdoing may lie, not only with altering the transcription of historic records to fit his agenda, but with Heinegg intentionally keeping his audience ignorant of the historic usage of terms like “free persons of color”, “mulatto”, and even “free Negro”. Heinegg fails to inform his unsuspecting readers that the aforementioned terms often included persons with no Negro ancestry. The following example illustrates how even a seemingly straight forward label as “free Negro” cannot be accepted at face value:

On October 31 st of 1895 the News and Observer published an article written by Oscar Blacknall, a historian of Granville County, North Carolina. The title of the article was “Negro Slave Holders and Slave owners”. Throughout the article Blacknall continuously used the term “free negro” to describe these slave-owning residents of Granville, yet he also included this physical description of those same individuals:

An investigation as far as practicable of their genealogy showed them to be largely of Indian blood. This was fully confirmed by their features and physical structure. Among them, especially among their women, the Indian characteristics are strongly marked. I know of more than one who could easily pass for an Indian squaw. These characteristics are also conspicuous in the children. Their prejudices against the slaves were so strong that nearly all the affinity of the free Negro was with the lowest class of whites. As this exclusiveness still prevails, many known as free negroes probably really have not a drop of negro blood.”

Even though an educated white neighbor, intimate with their appearance and ancestry, described these residents of Granville as “largely of Indian blood” and having “not a drop of negro blood”, this had no influence on the federal census, as the same individuals and families specifically mentioned in this article were recorded as “M” racially in 1870, 1880 and 1900.

In fact, it’s these very same misleading racial markers that were used by eugenics supporters like Plecker, and more modernly Heinegg, to justify ignoring the greater amount of documentation reflecting an Indian ancestry and instead emphasize a few identifications as “free Negro” or “mulatto”.

Sadly, utterly substandard material, such as Heinegg’s work, has become the go-to source material for governmental authorities, and even competing federally recognized tribes, in their effort to stymy the efforts of legitimate historic Native American descendant groups of the southeast who are striving to attain recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This author is at a loss whether to be more disapproving of Heinegg for publishing such flawed nonsense, or of others who would use this material as a source.

To satisfy “”inclusio unius est exclusio alterius“, one would only have to provide ONE historic example of a Native American, an individual with no known African ancestry, being recorded historically as a “Mulatto” to disprove the notion that “Mulatto” equals African heritage. This report will go above and beyond that requirement and offer no less than fifty examples of historic individuals who were NOTthe issue of one Black parent and one White parent”, but instead were documented Native Americans with no known African heritage.

–Indians Appearing as “M” on the Census–

In this next section I will focus on examples of individuals and families across the southeast that were recorded as “mulatto” on census records, yet have local documentation that reflected them as having Native American ancestry with no implication of African heritage. First, however, it is important to educate the reader on the purpose and intent of the document that the infamous “M” appears on the American census.

From its first conception in the late 1700’s to the conclusion of World War Two, the United States census served only two purposes: To record the size and location of the American population in order to allocate Congressional representation, and to give the government a fair estimate of potentially collectable tax revenue. The only purpose of the ‘race’ column in early census records was to identify the tax status of the individual, a status defined by state law, and in no way was, or should be regarded as, any reflection of any self-identification of the individual recorded.

Early tax codes restricted their scope to only three classes of individuals: free white males, free persons of color, and Indians not taxed. By 1790 the sub-set of “Indians not taxed” was further restricted to include only Native Americans who were residing on “known reservations.” Between 1750 and 1950, across the southeast, there existed many individuals, families, and indeed entire communities of persons bearing a large amount of Native American blood who were potentially subject to local taxation and were not living on “known reservations.” This often left both the tax collector and the tax payer at odds as to the application of the tax law. During that period petitions to State legislatures sprung up in almost every southern state as tax agencies sought to clear up the legal morass resulting from taxation of persons of Native ancestry. [Examples of these taxation petitions can be found throughout this report.]

Southern states solved this quandary by legally defining the term “mulatto” in terms mirroring the common social usage of the term, that being a cross breed of any of the races or an individual of any mixed ancestry. In 1705, Virginia specifically codified this description in the following statute:

And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto, Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grandchild, or great grandchild, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto.”

Inclusion of persons with no known African ancestry within the “mulatto” category, both socially and legally, was so well entrenched across the south that William D. Valentine, a white nineteenth century lawyer of Hertford County, North Carolina, when pressed to define the legally separate definitions of “free negroes” and “mulattos” espoused the following:

“Free negroes are slaves and their descendants emancipated by Quakers and other benevolent whites and owners of them. The mulatto is the offspring between the white and the negro, or between the Indian and the negro, or between the white and the Indian.”

In the publication “Racial Reorganization and the United States Census 1850-1930: Mulattoes, Half-Breeds, Mixed Parentage, Hindoos, and the Mexican Race” by Jennifer L. Hochschild (H.L. Jayne Professor of Government, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor) and Brenna M. Powell, we learn of the confusing, haphazard, and oft politically motivated, systems employed by the United States Census Bureau when it came to recording race:
In any single year and across decades, racial categorization was internally incoherent, inconsistent across groups, and unstable…Latin Americans were variously classified as white, mulatto, or racially distinct…Native Americans were alternately ignored and categorized down to tiny fractions of black and white “blood”.”

“[For the purpose of the census] Congress accepted the “Color” inquiry, specifying the categories of white, black, and mulatto (identified by skin tone) for both free persons and slaves.”

“In short, “mulatto” arrived on the census as the stalking horse for polygenist racial science…between those years [1850 to 1930] the meaning of race, boundaries between races, and subdivisions within races changed almost every decade for almost every group.”

By identifying the fact that many individuals of mixed, non-African ancestry were labelled with the enigmatic “M”, Hochschild and Powell join a host of well-respected academia who specifically recognize the early use of “Mulatto” to merely designate the “mixed” nature of the individual and further illustrate the diabolical systemic use of the “M” label to disenfranchise American Indians in the southern states.

[For further reading on this subject see this list of informative publications at the end of this report]

Norfolk, Virginia

On July 15, 1833 the Quality Superior Court of Norfolk County entered the following minutes: “The Court doth certify upon satisfactory evidence of white persons produced before it, that Asa Price, Wright Perkins, Nathan Perkins, Pricilla Perkins, Nelson Bass, Willis Bass, Andrew Bass, William Bass son of William Bass, Joseph Newton, and Henry Newton, & Allen Newton, Polly Newton, Sally Newton, & Hestor Newton are not free-Negroes or Mulattoes, but are of Indiandescent and that each of them have a certificate separately thereof …”

Again on July 20, 1833, the same Court again addressed the issue of certain persons’ race: “The Court doth certify upon satisfactory evidence of white persons produced before it that Andrew Bass and Lavina his wife, Elizabeth Bass wife of William Bass son of William Bass, Jemima Bass Sr., Peggy Bass, Jemima Bass Jr., Elizabeth Lidwin, Mary Anderson, Priscilla Flury, Jerusha Bass the wife of William the son of Willis, Frances the wife of James Newton, Lucy Trummel, wife of William Trummel, Andrew Bass Jr., Patsy Bass, William Bass, William Newton, Betsy Weaver, Nancy Weaver, and Sally Weaver, that they are not Free Negroes or Mulattoes, but are of Indian descent and that each of them have a certificate separately thereof…”

Even withstanding these public declarations by the County Court, the same individuals named above were recorded as “M” in the 1850 census and beyond.

Fauquier County, Virginia

The 1860 census of Fauquier County, Virginia, Thoroughfare Post Office includes the entry for Lydia E. Cole, who is marked as “M” in the race column and the enumerator handwrote “Indian descent” beside the entry.

Robeson County, North Carolina

In 1857, William Chavis was arrested and charged as “a free Negro” with carrying a shotgun, a violation of North Carolina state law. Chavis was convicted but promptly appealed on the legal basis that he was “of Indian descent” and thus “a free person of color” not subject to the restrictions of “free negros”. The appeals Court reversed the lower Court, finding that “Free persons of color may be, then, for all we can see, persons colored by Indian blood…”

Though William Chavis fought hardily to prove that he had no “Negro ancestors”, he still appeared on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census with the familiar “M” in the race column.

The next two examples are highly illustrative, and particular attention should be paid to them, as they unreservedly record that “mulatto” was used to describe persons of Native American-European admixture, and the use of “mulatto” was meant implicitly to set these people apart from those of African ancestry.

In 1871, the North Carolina Joint Senate and House Committee, attempting to ascertain the causes and conditions surrounding the civil unrest in the area of the southern Carolina border, interviewed Robeson County Judge Giles Leitch about the ‘free persons of color’ living within his county. Leitch, a well-respected member of the white gentry and life-long resident of Robeson County, was an expert witness regarding the racial composition of those in question:

Senate:Half of the colored population?”

Leitch:Yes Sir half of the colored population of Robeson County were never slaves at all…”

Senate:What are they are they Negroes?”

Leitch:Well sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can but I really do not know what they are I think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian…”

Senate:You think they are mixed Negroes and Indians?”

Leitch:I do not think that in that class of population there is much Negro blood at all of that half of the colored population that I have attempted to describe all have always been free…They are called ‘mulattoes’ that is the name they are known by, as contradistinguished from Negroes…I think they are of Indian origin.

In the exact same era that Judge Leitch gave this testimony, these very identical people that he described as being “a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian”, were recorded as “M” on the census of 1850, 1860, and 1870.

In the August 1, 1871 edition of the Tri-Weekly Era, a newspaper published from Raleigh, North Carolina, appeared a curious article. This article, entitled “The Robeson Outlaws – Who They Are – The Truth about Them from an Unprejudiced Source” described the numerous Indian blooded families of Robeson County and how these families, though they were primarily of Native American extract, were called “Mulattos” due to their Indian-White admixture:

There is in this county a district of country about ten or twelve miles square, inhabited almost entirely by mulattos, as we call them here, but really Tuscarora Indians…It contains probably some two hundred or more mulatto or Indian families, amounting in all –men, women and children – to at least one thousand souls…The ancestors of these people –the Lowrys, Oxendines, Locklears, Cumbos, Chavis’, Dials, etc – came from Halifax county before the old Revolutionary war, and I am informed by the oldest citizens here, who have lived by them all their lives, that they were always known to be Indians, that some of them are now pure Indian, some are mixed with European and some with Negro. Their features, their copper color, their straight, coarse, black hair, their character, for vindictiveness, blood-thirstiness, cunning, craftiness, their general improvidence, everything about them is Indian.”

Even though “everything about them is Indian”, the federal census continued to reflect these same families as “M” both before and after this article.

Edgefield District, South Carolina

On December 1 st 1859, eight residents of Edgefield District, South Carolina filed a petition to the South Carolina Legislature requesting to be granted exclusion from the poll tax being assessed on “free persons of color”. The petition stated “That the first six petitioner’s names above to wit, the Chavis and Jones families, are free persons of color being descendants of Indian ancestors…Your petitioners of the Indian blood, that is to say, Frederick, Lewis, and Durany Chavis, James, Bartley, and Mary Jones May your Honorable body to say whether by free persons of Colour, they mean to include descendants of Indians…”

The South Carolina Legislature ultimately agreed that these petitioners “of Indian descent” would not be held to the higher poll tax assessed against “free persons of color”. Though their “Indian descent” removed them from the tax burden bore by persons of Negro descent, it did not stop them from continuing to be recorded as “M” on the census of 1860, 1870, and beyond.

Beaufort District, South Carolina

In 1854, B. S. Massey South Carolina’s Indian Agent for the Catawba tribe, was prompted to issue a report on the condition of the Indians under his charge. Massey reported that a great many of the Catawba Indians were no longer living on their South Carolina reservation including “Jim Morrison and child” who had “left for Charleston” and he had “last heard from him in 1853”.

James “Jim” Morrison, the Catawba Indian, appears on the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census of Saint Luke’s Parish, District of Beaufort census along with his wife, Sarah Morrison, and son, James Morrison Jr., the entire family recorded consistently as “M”.

Sumter County, South Carolina

On January 3 rd 1861, John R Pollard, a lifelong resident of Sumter County, South Carolina, filed an affidavit with the Sumter Court. In this affidavit he stated “…the general striking physiogenomal traits of appearance of the Scott family in General and relatives is deeply set with European and Indian blood and there is a number of records in the Clerk’s office of Sumter Courthouse where their relatives have escaped from under the disabling Statute.”

On October 28 th 1861, Mary Nickles, a longtime resident of Sumter County, South Carolina, filed an affidavit with the Sumter Court. In this affidavit she stated “…that she has known Margaret and Isham Scott, the parents of John N. Scott and Fleming T. Scott for a long length of time and that Margaret Scott was a white woman and always bore the character of being white and that Isham Scott’s ancestors was of Egyptian and Indian blood.”

Despite the general notion among the local whites that the Scott family of Sumter bore no Negro ancestry, all of the Scotts appeared as “M” on the 1850 and 1860 census. Isham Scott, specifically, appeared as “M” on the 1850 and 1860 Sumter census, and after moving to Florida appeared again as “M” on the 1870 census.

In 1894 several residents of Sumter County, South Carolina filed a complaint against a local white man, William Hodge, for what they considered an “illegal intermarriage” with Hester Gibbs. During the course of testimony in South Carolina V. Hodge it was determined that Hester Gibbs was not of African extraction, but was “of Indian ancestry”, and therefore Hodge was found “not guilty”.

Even though this 1894 court case revealed that Hester Gibbs bore no “negro ancestry” she, along with her parents and siblings, were consistently recorded as “M” on the federal census of 1870, 1880, and 1900.
In 1913 three brothers A.A, William W., and William D. Goins, who were born and lived in Sumter County, South Carolina, before moving to Robeson County, sought to enroll their children in Robeson’s separate Indian school system. Their sister had gone to an Indian school here and was teaching in one of Robeson’s Indian schools. Despite their sister’s position and personal history, the three brothers’ children were denied admission by the Indian school committee and the case went to the superior court, where they won. An appeal was then filed by the normal school committee to the state supreme court. A portion of the testimony in that case is included here:

Myer Giddine, a white witness called by the plaintiffs, testified: “I live in Privateer Township, Sumpter County, South Carolina I live about one quarter mile from William Goins, father of the Plaintiffs, for thirty years. The only talk I ever heard about the race of people the Plaintiff was that they were Indians. Heard that talk ever since I was big enough to remember it. The mother of the plaintiff has long black hair.”

As evidence in the case, a certificate issued by the Sumter Clerk of Court was supplied. The aforementioned certificate read as follows: “State of South Carolina, Sumter County. I, L.I. Parrott, Clerk of the Court for Sumter County, said state, do hereby certify that the families of Smilings and Goinses of this county have been known as “Red Bones” ever since I have been acquainted with the people. Mr. McDonald Furman, now deceased, took a great deal of trouble several years ago to establish the fact that they were descendants of the Indian race, which he did to his entire satisfaction, so he has told me on several occasions. They are looked upon as a separate race, neither white nor negro. Given under my hand and official seal this 17th day of February, A.D., 1908.”
A.S. Locklear, a Robeson County Indian, testified on behalf of the Goins brothers: “I know William Goins, father of these parties. I visited them in South Carolina once about six years ago. The general reputation I got down there was that they were Indian people. They were supposed to be Indians. I have lived in Robeson County all my life and I am perfectly familiar with the Indian people up here. From my association, being in the home of old man Goins and his family and from the investigation I have made of the people there, my opinion is that on the mother’s side plaintiffs are Indians and on the father’s side malungeans. The Rev. William Goins is not a typical Indian by feature, he is a mixture between white and Indian. The reputation among the people down in South Carolina where the plaintiffs formerly lived was that Goins, Smiling and Chavis families had no negro blood and that these families had made every endeavor to keep themselves aloof from the negro. Did not want to associate with them in churches and in schools. I attended their church while down there…After my investigation and report to the churches there was never any more question raised about their race. I also know that the Association appointed a committee to investigate it. The plaintiffs were admitted into the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association as Indian people. I saw the mother of Emma Goins and she was as Indian if I ever saw one…”
The plaintiffs won – they had legally won the standing of “Indians” in the eyes of the Court. Though these Goins were recorded consistently as “Ind” on census records once they had moved to North Carolina, and indeed every white witness from Sumter described in detail how they were never considered to have any Negro ancestry, in Sumter County, South Carolina they were unfailingly marked as “M” from 1850 to 1900.

Santee, South Carolina

In 1731 a member of South Carolina Common’s House of Assembly announced in Chamber that several free colored men with their white wives had immigrated from Virginia with the intention of settling on the Santee River.” Governor Robert Johnson summoned Gideon Gibson, the subject of the inquiry, and his family to explain their presence there and, after meeting them, reported: “I have had them before me in Council and upon examination find that they are not Negroes nor slaves but Free People, that the father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his father was also free. I have been informed by a person who has lived in Virginia that this Gibson has lived there several years in good repute and by his papers that he produced before me that his transactions there have been very regular. That he has for several years paid taxes for two tracts of land and had seven Negroes of his own. That he is a carpenter by Trade and is come hither for the support of his family…I have in consideration of his wife’s being a white woman and several white women capable of working and being Serviceable in the county permitted him to settle in this Country.”

Even with the testimony of such a prominent person as the Governor, a substantial witness that they “are not Negroes”, Gibson and his descendants were still consistently recorded as “free persons of color” and later as “M”.

Regarding this very same social phenomenon Henry Laurens, a prominent Charleston merchant, stated: “Reasoning from the colour carries no conviction…Gideon Gibson escaped the penalties of the Negro law by producing upon comparison more red and white in his face than can be discovered in the faces of half the descendants of the French refugees in our House of Assembly.”

While Gideon Gibson, who had no discernible African heritage, may have indeed escaped the unduly harsh additional taxes and regulations that South Carolina assigned to those of African ancestry, Gibson and his descendants continued to be officially recorded exactly the same as those who did have African roots.

Calhoun County, Florida

In July of 1861 Francis “Frank” Hill, a “white unmarried male”, was charged by the Court with “Fornication with a Mulatto”. Hill had earlier married Eliza Scott, daughter of Isham Scott and Margaret Oxendine, both of whom were still living in Sumter County, South Carolina at that time. Hill and another white man supplied testimony to the Calhoun Court that Eliza Scott “is not a Mulatto as named in the indictment but is an Indian of the Catawba tribe, her grandfather Jacob Scott being a headman of that tribe.” The case ended in a quick “not guilty” verdict.

Throughout her entire life Eliza Scott was recorded as “M” on the Florida census excepting for a brief period of serving as a teacher on the Catawba reservation where the Indian Agent recorded her as “Eliza Scott Indian” in 1861. Eliza’s father, Isham Scott, was also recorded as “M” on the 1870 census after arriving in Florida to live near his daughter. Even Eliza’s husband Frank, the “white unmarried male”, was recorded as “M” while living with Eliza.

Macon County, North Carolina

In 1881 Dr Joseph McDowell, of Fairmont, Georgia, filed a petition with the U.S. Senate and the Indian Office asking for assistance for “Catawba Indians, and 81 in number. The report stated that William Guy, of Granville, GA [sic NC], and Simon Jeffries, of Bellville, VA, Catawba Indians, served five years in the Army [Rev War] and were honorably discharged, and these people are their descendants.”

This list of 81 “Catawba Indians” included mainly members of the Guy and Jeffries families, the exact same individuals who appear on the 1850 through 1900 census recorded racially as “M”.

Escambia & Monroe Counties, Alabama

In this area of southwest Alabama resided the offspring of numerous White Traders and their Creek Indian wives. These half-Indians were well known locally and even nationally, their names and ancestry appearing in numerous newspaper articles, military reports, Congressional Acts, and colorful book publications by contemporaries such as T.S. Woodward and George Stiggins.

Yet even their relative fame and the intimate knowledge of their non-African ancestry did not halt such Native American/European progeny with such celebrated surnames as Hollinger, Moniac, McGhee, Stiggins, and Tate from bearing the now familiar “M” in the census racial column of the 1850 and 1860 census. Even Charles Weatherford, son of the infamous William “Red Eagle” Weatherford, was recorded as “M” on the census.

–“Mulatto” and “Indian” Used Interchangeably–

The interchangeability of the “Mulatto” and “Indian” label is widespread across Virginia in the early 1700’s, as can be observed in the next few examples. Particular attention should be paid to how the terms mulatto” and “Indian” are used interchangeably with the only obvious inference being that the individual was less than full-blooded Native. There is nothing discernable in the following examples of the individuals mentioned having any African heritage at all, and yet the “mulatto” appellation continues to be used.

Henrico County, Virginia
May 5th 1711:Thomas Chamberlayne brings before this Court his servant Mulatto man Robin and informed the Court that he hath several times run away. Ordered to serve one year from (release date).”

[Less than one year later the hapless Robin had transformed from a “Mulatto” to an “Indian” when the same Court decreed that]

“February 1712: Robin Indian ordered free from Thomas Chamberlayne’s service at end of years’ service.”

[A little more than a year later Robin had reversed from an “Indian” back to a “Mulatto”:] “March 1713….Thomas Chamberlayne against his servant Robin Mulatto hath unlawfully absented himself for 16 weeks.”

April of 1722: Peg an Indian womanservant belonging to Richard Ligon appeared…be adjudged free…he be summoned.”

[This time in less than two months Peg changed in status from an “Indian” to a “Mulatto”:]

June 1722: Peg a Mulatto servant born in this County whose mother was an Indian entitled to freedom at the age of thirty years, having petitioned for her freedom against her master Richard Ligon.”

Goochland County, Virginia

March 1756: Elizabeth, daughter of Ruth Matthews, a free mulattoe, baptized by the Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish.”
[A little more than a year later Ruth Matthews transforms from a “mulattoe” to an “Indian”:]
September 1757: Cumberland County Court to bind out the children of Ruth Matthews, an Indian woman, to William Fleming.”

Chesterfield County, Virginia

April 1770: On motion of Sibbell, an Indian woman held in slavery by Joseph Ashbrooke, have leave to prosecute for her freedom in forma pauperis.”

[Within the same year, the Chesterfield Court had changed the title of the case to:]

Sybill, a MulattoV. Joseph Ashbrooke – dismissed.”

–“Mulatto” Used to Describe Indian Descent

Cumberland, Virginia

November 1772: Run away from the subscriber in Cumberland a Mulatto Man named Jim who is a slave but pretends to have a right to his freedom. His father was an Indian of the name of Cheshire, and very likely will call himself James Cheshire, or Chink. He is a short well set fellow, about twenty seven years of age, with long black hair resembling an Indians.”

Dinwiddie County, Virginia

August 1794: Nancy Coleman a dark brown, well-made mulatto woman, freed by judgement of the Gen’l Court of John Hardaway, being a descendant of an Indian.”

–“Indian” and “Mulatto” Used in Conjunction–

Even more interesting is the use of the term “Indian Mulatto”, a fairly common occurrence in Virginia. “Indian Mulatto” for all intents and purposes, appears to have been used similar to the “mixed-Indian” appellation of the 1800’s i.e. to infer that the subject is not a full-blooded Indian.

Westmoreland County, Virginia

January 1700: James Loggin, an Indian Mulatto, bound to Henry Wharton until the age of 21 by the Court.”

Northumberland County, Virginia
October 1713: Trial for examining George an Indian Mulatto criminal…inhabitant of Wiccomocoe Indian Town..for murdering Allen Dorrett…confesses he struck him with a stake…John Veazey carried him into the house of Indian John.”

Stafford County, Virginia

Will Book Liber M, 1729-48: will of George Crosby: I bequeth unto George Crosby junior the son of my son George, one Indian mulatto woman Frank & her increase as also one Indian mulatto boy Jno Cooper.”

Gates County, North Carolina

“Gates County Court Minutes, February 1796: “…Indian or Molatto boys John Robbins and James Robbins, bound out to Henry Lee…”

Greene County, Ohio

In 1842 Parker Jeffries, who had been restricted from voting as he was “considered to be a Mulatto,” brought suit against the local elections board. Though all parties to the case agreed that Jeffries was “of the Indian race, the illegitimate son of a white man and a woman of the Indian race, and that he has not more than one fourth of the Indian blood in his veins,” It was the position of the County and State officials that Jeffries was still held under the legal restrictions of “mulattos” because of “his mixed blood.” The Ohio Supreme Court, while also supportive of the position that persons of Native ancestry were included under the label of “mulatto,”, ruled that Jeffries was a lawful voter. The majority opinion stated, “…That all nearer white than black, or of the grade between the mulattoes and the whites, were entitled to enjoy every political and social privilege of the white citizen that no other rule could be adopted, so intelligible and so practicable as this and that further refinements would lead to inconvenience, and to no good result.”

An overwhelming amount of historical documentation exists to support that the term “mulatto” was applied to persons of Native American ancestry. In fact, in cases where the ancestry of the individual being labeled a “mulatto” was described alongside the use of the label, the vast majority involved persons of Native American ancestry with no record of African ancestry at all!

Jack D Forbes, Africans and Native Americans, University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Melissa Nobles, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2000)

Kenneth Prewitt, “Politics and Science in Census Taking,” in The American People: Census 2000, ed. Reynolds Farley and John Haaga (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005)

Margo Anderson, The American Census: A Social History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988)

Heidi Ardizzone, “Red Blooded Americans: Mulattoes and the Melting Pot in U.S. Racialist and Nationalist Discourse, 1890–1930” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1997)

  1. James Davis, Who Is Black?: One Nation’s Definition (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001)

Christine Hickman, “The Devil and the One Drop Rule: Racial Categories, African Americans, and the U.S. Census,” Michigan Law Review 95 (1997)

Victoria Grieve, Any Perceptible Trace: Representations of the “Mulatto” in the United States Census, 1850–1920 (M.A. thesis, University of Georgia, 1996)

Trina Jones, “Shades of Brown: The Law of Skin Color,” Duke Law Journal 49 (2000)

The Three Mulattoes of Esmeralda from Ecuador, South America?

The three men depicted in the painting are identified in the painting itself as Don Francisco (de) Arobe and (according to one source) his two sons. They wear abundant gold jewelry, much of which is typical of the Indians of the region. Their clothing is obviously European, and they carry spears. Each man is given the honorific title Don, a sign of respect in the Latin-Hispanic world. The title of the painting further identifies the men as “mulatto,” though they may in fact have been zambos, or Afro-Indian men.

It is a portrait of three men who are, we know from historical documents at the time, of mixed ancestry. They are part indigenous or Indian and part African American.

They also appear before us wearing some European-style clothing as well as some indigenous-style clothing. We see them with fancy ruff collars of lace, imports clearly from Europe, as well as cloaks of fine silk and damask. They have lace at their wrists from their shirts, and two men hold European-style hats—don Francisco at the center and don Domingo over at the side. Underneath their cloaks and above their ruffled collars, we see the men wearing indigenous-style ponchos that have been cut in a style that would have been traditional in the Americas prior to the Spanish Conquest. The material of these robes, however, these ponchos, was all imported, probably into Quito from Asia. So there’s a connection here between trade with Asia as well as Europe and the Americas.

“Regional blackness as a force of self-liberation in Ecuador begins in Esmeraldas, and its origin occurs during a violent tropical storm and a movement of African rebellion. The documented history of Ecuador establishes the beginnings of Afro-Hispanic culture in what is now Esmeraldas, Ecuador, where a Spanish slaving ship ran aground in 1553. There a group of twenty-three Africans from the coast of Guinea, led by a black warrior named Antón, attacked the slavers and liberated themselves. Not long after, this group, together with other blacks entering the region, led by a ladino (Hispanicized black person) named Alonso de Illescas, came to dominate the region from northern Manabí north to what is now Barbacoas, Colombia. At this time (late sixteenth century) intermixture with indigenous peoples, to whom black people fled to establish their palenques (villages of self-liberated people – some fortified, some not), was such that their features were described as zambo (black-indigenous admixture), synonyms of which were negro (black) and mulato (mixed or hybrid black-white). …
… By 1599 black people were clearly in charge of what was called “La República de Zambos” or “Zambo Republic”. Zambo refers to people of colour who are descendants of Native Americans and African-Americans. In that year a group of Zambo chieftains, said to represent 100,000 or more Zambo people of Esmeraldas, trekked to Quito to declare loyalty to Spain. An oil painting of these chiefs from the emerald land of the Zambo Republic is portrayed by the “Indian artist” Adrián Sánchez Galgue [sic] it is reportedly the earliest signed and dated painting from South America.”

Source: No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today. Minority Rights Group, ed. Minority Rights Publications, 1995, pp. 291-292.

United States [ edit | edit source ]

Colonial and Antebellum eras [ edit | edit source ]

Creole woman with black servant, New Orleans, 1867.

Historians have documented sexual abuse of enslaved women during the colonial and post-revolutionary slavery times by white men in power: planters, their sons before marriage, overseers, etc., which resulted in many multiracial children born into slavery. Starting with Virginia in 1662, colonies adopted the principle of partus sequitur ventrem in slave law, which said that children born in the colony were born into the status of their mother. Thus, children born to slave mothers were born into slavery, regardless of who their fathers were and whether they were baptized as Christians. Children born to white mothers were free, even if they were mixed-race. Children born to free mixed-race mothers were also free.

Paul Heinegg has documented that most of the free people of color listed in the 1790–1810 censuses in the Upper South were descended from unions and marriages during the colonial period in Virginia between white women, who were free or indentured servants, and African or African-American men, servant, slave or free. In the early colonial years, such working-class people lived and worked closely together, and slavery was not as much of a racial caste. Slave law had established that children in the colony took the status of their mothers. This meant that multi-racial children born to white women were born free. The colony required them to serve lengthy indentures if the woman was not married, but nonetheless, numerous individuals with African ancestry were born free, and formed more free families. Over the decades, many of these free people of color became leaders in the African-American community others married increasingly into the white community. ⏟] ⏠] His findings have been supported by DNA studies and other contemporary researchers as well. ⏡]

A daughter born to a South Asian father and Irish mother in Maryland in 1680, both of whom probably came to the colony as indentured servants, was classified as a "mulatto" and sold into slavery. ⏢]

Historian F. James Davis says,

Historically in the American South, the term mulatto was also applied at times to persons with mixed Native American and African American ancestry. ⏤] For example, a 1705 Virginia statute reads as follows:

"And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto, Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto." ⏥]

But southern colonies began to prohibit Indian slavery in the eighteenth century, so, according to their own laws, even mixed-race children born to Native American women should be considered free. The societies did not always observe this distinction.

Certain Native American tribes of the Inocoplo family in Texas referred to themselves as "mulatto". ⏦] At one time, Florida's laws declared that a person from any number of mixed ancestries would be legally defined as a mulatto, including White/Hispanic, Black/Native American, and just about any other mix as well. ⏧]

In the United States, due to the influence and laws making slavery a racial caste, and later practices of hypodescent, white colonists and settlers tended to classify persons of mixed African and Native American ancestry as black, regardless of how they identified themselves, or sometimes as Black Indians. But many tribes had matrilineal kinship systems and practices of absorbing other peoples into their cultures. Multiracial children born to Native American mothers were customarily raised in her family and specific tribal culture. Federally recognized Native American tribes have insisted that identity and membership is related to culture rather than race, and that individuals brought up within tribal culture are fully members, regardless of whether they also have some European or African ancestry. Many tribes have had mixed-race members who identify primarily as members of the tribes.

If the multiracial children were born to slave women (generally of at least partial African descent), they were classified under slave law as slaves. This was to the advantage of slaveowners, as Indian slavery had been abolished. If mixed-race children were born to Native American mothers, they should be considered free, but sometimes slaveholders kept them in slavery anyway. Multiracial children born to slave mothers were generally raised within the African-American community and considered "black". ⏤]

Influence [ edit | edit source ]

Some mixed-race people in the South became wealthy enough to become slave owners themselves. At times they held family members in slavery when there were many restrictions against freeing slaves. By the time of the Civil War, many mixed-race persons, or free people of color, who were accepted in the society supported the Confederacy. For example, William Ellison owned 60 slaves. Andrew Durnford of New Orleans, which had a large population of free people of color, mostly of French descent and Catholic culture, was listed in the census as owning 77 slaves. In Louisiana free people of color constituted a third class between white colonists and the mass of slaves. ⏨]

Other multiracial people became abolitionists and supported the Union. Frederick Douglass escaped slavery and became nationally known as an abolitionist in the North.

In other examples, Mary Ellen Pleasant and Thomy Lafon of New Orleans used their fortunes to support the abolitionist cause. Francis E. Dumas, also a free person of color in New Orleans, emancipated all his slaves and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards. ⏩]

The men of color below spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.