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On the freedom of free people of color in the Antebellum South.


The ideas that were in their infancy in the last 1700s through the Antebellum period become the foundation for what happens in the Jim Crow period - to free people of color, but also the formerly enslaved people. There were laws on the books in many Southern states that said if a free person of color cannot afford to pay a fine, that person can be 'hired out' to pay off that debt. We see instances where judges and communities decide they want to target certain individuals by assessing a fine they know a person can't pay. When someone fines a poor person $50, they know what they're trying to do. We see an expansion of that process in the post-Civil War period.

Historian Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr. on the shifting, contested legal and social dynamics of free people of color from the colonial to antebellum periods, and his book Beyond Slavery's Shadow: Free People of Color in the South from University of North Carolina Press.

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Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr.

Warren E. Milteer Jr. is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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