Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs on 2021-08-31 02:06Z by Steven

Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

University of North Carolina Press
October 2021
76 pages
6.125 x 9.25
14 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6439-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6438-5

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr., Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

On the eve of the Civil War, most people of color in the United States toiled in bondage. Yet nearly half a million of these individuals, including over 250,000 in the South, were free. In Beyond Slavery’s Shadow, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. draws from a wide array of sources to demonstrate that from the colonial period through the Civil War, the growing influence of white supremacy and proslavery extremism created serious challenges for free persons categorized as “negroes,” “mulattoes,” “mustees,” “Indians,” or simply “free people of color” in the South. Segregation, exclusion, disfranchisement, and discriminatory punishment were ingrained in their collective experiences. Nevertheless, in the face of attempts to deny them the most basic privileges and rights, free people of color defended their families and established organizations and businesses.

These people were both privileged and victimized, both celebrated and despised, in a region characterized by social inconsistency. Milteer’s analysis of the way wealth, gender, and occupation intersected with ideas promoting white supremacy and discrimination reveals a wide range of social interactions and life outcomes for the South’s free people of color and helps to explain societal contradictions that continue to appear in the modern United States.

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Marvin Jones’ Winton Triangle research a personal journey

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-14 17:57Z by Steven

Marvin Jones’ Winton Triangle research a personal journey

Coastal Review: A Daily News Service of the North Carolina Coastal Federation
Newport, North Carolina
2021-07-06

Kip Tabb


The Pleasant Plains Baptist Church founded in 1851 is one of the oldest multiracial congregations in North Carolina. The brick church, built in 1951, replaced the original wooden church. Photo: Kip Tabb

Marvin Jones, Chowan Discovery Group executive director, has made it his life’s work to document the history of a northeastern North Carolina community of color.

NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — In 1845, North Carolina passed a law prohibiting free people of color from selling liquor. Fourteen years later, the law was expanded banning the sale of liquor to “… any free person of color, for cash, or in exchange for articles delivered, or upon any consideration whatever, or as a gift …”

Almost immediately, 55 white men from Hertford County requested an exemption. There does not seem to be a record of why the exemption was requested, but in his University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 2012 doctoral dissertation, Warren Milteer points out that “by 1860, approximately 1,000 free people of color resided in Hertford County, giving the county one of the largest free non-white populations in the state.”

The law, specifically calling out free people of color, highlights how complex the story of race in America is.

Not every person of color in the South was enslaved.

It is a point Marvin Tupper Jones, the executive director of the nonprofit volunteer preservation and research organization Chowan Discovery Group, explains in detail. A native of what he describes as the Winton Triangle in Hertford County, Jones traces his heritage to the late 17th century.

“My oldest named ancestor was from India. William Weaver shows up around 1690,” he told Coastal Review. Weaver was the father of biracial children who were free…

Read the entire article here.

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Free People of Color History Conversation (Zoom Virtual Event)

Posted in History, Live Events, United States, Videos on 2021-01-30 22:37Z by Steven

Free People of Color History Conversation (Zoom Virtual Event)

Cape Fear Museum
814 Market Street
Wilmington, North Carolina 28401
Friday, 2021-02-05, 17:00Z (12:00 EST)

Jan Davidson, Cape Fear Museum and Host

In 1860, 12 percent of the free people of color in slave states lived in North Carolina. Join UNCG professor Dr. Warren Milteer and Cape Fear Museum on Zoom for a conversation about the lives of free men, women, and children of color in our region. Dr. Milteer, who authored North Carolina’s Free People of Color, will discuss his work with Museum historian Dr. Jan Davidson.

Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr. is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. His publications include two academic books, Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South (forthcoming with UNC Press, 2021) and North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715-1885 (LSU Press, 2020), the independently published Hertford County, North Carolina’s Free People of Color (2016), as well as articles in the Journal of Social History and the North Carolina Historical Review. Milteer was the recipient of the Historical Society of North Carolina’s R. D. W. Connor Award in 2014 and 2016 for the best journal article in the North Carolina Historical Review

For more information, click here. To join the conversation, click here.

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North Carolina Free People of Color, 1715-1885 with Warren Eugene Milteer Jr.

Posted in Audio, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-01-30 22:12Z by Steven

North Carolina Free People of Color, 1715-1885 with Warren Eugene Milteer Jr.

Research at the National Archives and Beyond
2020-06-25

Bernice Bennett, Host

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. examines the lives of free persons categorized by their communities as negroes, mulattoes, mustees, Indians, mixed-bloods, or simply free people of color. From the colonial period through Reconstruction, lawmakers passed legislation that curbed the rights and privileges of these non-enslaved residents, from prohibiting their testimony against whites to barring them from the ballot box. While such laws suggest that most white North Carolinians desired to limit the freedoms and civil liberties enjoyed by free people of color, Milteer reveals that the two groups often interacted—praying together, working the same land, and occasionally sharing households and starting families. Some free people of color also rose to prominence in their communities, becoming successful businesspeople and winning the respect of their white neighbors.

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is the author of North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885.

Listen to the episode (00:45:57) here. Download the episode here.

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North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2020-09-10 01:16Z by Steven

North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885

Louisiana State University Press
July 2020
304 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
17 halftones, 1 map
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807171769

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr., Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

In North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. examines the lives of free persons categorized by their communities as “negroes,” “mulattoes,” “mustees,” “Indians,” “mixed-­bloods,” or simply “free people of color.” From the colonial period through Reconstruction, lawmakers passed legislation that curbed the rights and privileges of these non-enslaved residents, from prohibiting their testimony against whites to barring them from the ballot box. While such laws suggest that most white North Carolinians desired to limit the freedoms and civil liberties enjoyed by free people of color, Milteer reveals that the two groups often interacted—praying together, working the same land, and occasionally sharing households and starting families. Some free people of color also rose to prominence in their communities, becoming successful businesspeople and winning the respect of their white neighbors.

Milteer’s innovative study moves beyond depictions of the American South as a region controlled by a strict racial hierarchy. He contends that although North Carolinians frequently sorted themselves into races imbued with legal and social entitlements—with whites placing themselves above persons of color—those efforts regularly clashed with their concurrent recognition of class, gender, kinship, and occupational distinctions. Whites often determined the position of free nonwhites by designating them as either valuable or expendable members of society. In early North Carolina, free people of color of certain statuses enjoyed access to institutions unavailable even to some whites. Prior to 1835, for instance, some free men of color possessed the right to vote while the law disenfranchised all women, white and nonwhite included.

North Carolina’s Free People of Color, 1715–1885 demonstrates that conceptions of race were complex and fluid, defying easy characterization. Despite the reductive labels often assigned to them by whites, free people of color in the state emerged from an array of backgrounds, lived widely varied lives, and created distinct cultures—all of which, Milteer suggests, allowed them to adjust to and counter ever­-evolving forms of racial discrimination.

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