African-amer. in antebellum u. s – Сustom Literature essay

One may presume that the freedom was appreciated, but in practice itwas often only a legal technicality, and the working conditions of such"freed" slaves were often not at all improved. 3 1). References Alexander, A. . Journal of Social History, 9 (3), 297-318.

This followed the general pattern thatnorthern cities were almost always more racially segregated than southerncities. For example, Horton (1993, p. However, the general trend everywhere was for African-Americans to be gradually and steadily more ghettoized, as had certainlybecome obvious by the end of the nineteenth century. What is perhaps most impressive about Alexander's historiographicresearch in the context of this paper is that the life experience of thisfamily, and especially of its women, simply do not fit into Berlin'scategorical description of African-American life in the Lower South.

2 -2 1).

In general, Holt and Powers do not specifically contradict Berlin'sconcepts, but they do describe a more complex society than Berlinenvisioned. 135). W. Mulattoes were generally better off than darker African-Americans inall three cities, but enjoyed a great occupational advantage over theirdarker brethren only in Cincinnati, where southern traditions and localeconomic conditions allowed African-Americans to be employed in the skilledoccupations they were excluded from in Boston and Buffalo. As a result, thepostbellum Upper South resembled the North in the degree to which African-Americans lived in communities segregated from whites, but resembled theLower South in the kinds of occupations and sources of economic improvementaccessible to African-Americans.

In the antebellum Upper South, wealthy African-Americans were "black"rather than mulatto, and tended to be slaveowners themselves. L. agitated for the recognition of the civil and political rights of blacks in Pennsylvania.

As aresult, by 186 , about half of the free African-American population in theUnited States lived in the North, even though the great majority of theAfrican-American population of the United States was in the South (Berlin,1976, p. The "poor blacks" were concentrated in "Bucktown" onthe east of the city; the mulattoes were concentrating on the west of thecity. Throughout the United States, both before and after the Civil War, African-Americans were everywhere at best second-class citizens, but therewere great differences from region to region in what sort of restrictionsof rights and privileges (relative to those enjoyed by free whites) African-Americans were subjected to, and in what sort of personal and communalidentities they evolved. . However, much of this apparent difference derives from the fact thatBerlin's is a traditionally "thin" description, whereas Alexander's, inkeeping with recent paradigms in women's and ethnic studies, is richlythick, painting a vivid picture of real people as recalled by theireyewitnesses and family members. Because it depended on local conditions, generalizationsnecessarily misrepresent the place of mulattoes in black society" (Horton,1993, p.

Their opponents. Over the years, societal upheavals and evolutions, as well as unique circumstances and familial rites of passage shaped the Hunt women. In Cincinnatimulattos, 6 percent of the African-American community, held 75 percent ofits wealth.

169). 3 3). That is, mulattoes, generally economically better off than persons ofpurer African descent, were tending to form their own communities withinthe larger African-American community, as the mulatto elites had done insouthern port cities. By 185 , for example, mulattoes constituted 65 percent of Virginia'sfree black population but only 22 percent of the state's slaves" (Horton,1993, p.

. Further, slaveowners often took care to educate their mulatto children and get themtraining in some useful occupation. The mixed-ancestry subcaste in the port cities of the Lower South werealso largely of French background, were often French-speaking, and broughtmuch of French Caribbean culture with them in the 179 s, including RomanCatholicism.

From the FAS arose the African Methodist Episcopal Church, whose importance in America, and not merely for African-Americans, continues to be obvious. Powers and Holt: South Carolina Powers (1994) gives a detailed social history of African-Americans inCharleston between 1822 and 1885. Winch, J.

The labor-intensive cultivation of cotton(especially), tobacco, rice, and other crops could be carried out byslaves, no matter how reluctant and inefficient they may have been asworkers. Chicagoand London: University of Chicago Press.

His description of the socioeconomicclasses among African-Americans in Charleston reveals a working class ofunskilled and semi-skilled laborers making up about 67 percent of theAfrican-American population; a middle class of skilled workers, making upabout 3 percent; and an upper class of 356 members in 188 , made up ofprofessionals, proprietors, and persons who had risen from the ranks of thetwo lower classes, and who constituted less than 2 percent of the African-American population. The actual number of African-Americans increased during the first half of the nineteenth century, butthe white population grew even faster, so that the African-Americanpopulation fell to about 2 percent of the total population by 186 (Horton,1993, p. Black Charlestonians: A social history,1822-1885. Berlin: Slaves Without Masters Persons of African descent first arrived in the British, Dutch, Spanish, and French colonies as slaves, after the settlers discovered thatthe native Americans simply could not successfully be enslaved and forcedto work. Horton concurs with thisobservation, sating, "Mulattoes were the slaves most likely to be freed.

It has often been argued that, in cold, hard fact, EliWhitney's cotton gin did far more than either warfare or humanitarianism toend slavery as an economic institution. As she concludes, This story of an admittedly atypical family, covering about a century in the lives of a small group of people in middle Georgia, also illustrates the danger of compressing the "black experience" into a single picture. The members of this subcaste considered themselves to besuperior in many ways to slaves and poor blacks of relatively pure Africanancestry, and in practice often took sides against them with the whitesociety. 132) comments that indexes of dissimilarity showthere was as much geographic and social distance between mulattoes and"darker blacks" in Cincinnati as between whites and blacks in Brooklyn orSan Francisco.

. 124)cites the work of Joel Williamson, who points out that "in the Upper South, where mulattoes were likely to have resulted from unions between blacks andnonelite whites, their status was lower than that of mulattoes in the lowerSouth, where they were generally the product of unions between slaves andthe planter aristocracy." Berlin does point out that it was the latter who were most likely tobe manumitted, and who therefore contributed to "lightening the complexion"of the free African-American population.

125). The preceding covers the highlights of Berlin's model. FreedAfrican-Americans formed local communities and unique personal identitiesthat cannot be forced into Berlin's neat categories, which remain useful inshowing how regional differences shaped the different outlooks of freed"Negroes," but are limited insofar as they impose a fixed identity on suchpersons. However, the mulatto percentage of the African-Americancommunity was 6 and 53 in 185 and 186 , respectively, far exceeding thenorthern urban average of 31 percent, and exceeded only by the 76 percentof mulattoes among free African-Americans in the lower South (reaching 9 percent in some southern port cities). In these ways Cincinnati was far more like many southerncities than it was like most northern cities (Horton, 1993, p.

. . In any event, the common public concept of the antebellum SouthAfrican-Americans consisting primarily of huge plantations holding hundredsor thousands of African-American slaves is almost completely wrong. Onemight almost think that these two writers were describing different worlds. Further, although American society had certainly not become an openbanquet for African-Americans, there were many more occupations open toAfrican-Americans after the Civil War and Reconstruction than there everhad been before. Infact, the Southern system of almost total segregation of whites from"colored" people was an artifact of the reaction to Reconstruction; before187 , there was much more peaceful interpenetration, intermarriage, andeconomic cooperation among people of the poorer classes than there wasgenerally between approximately 187 and 196 (Berlin, 1974, pp.

Often enough, as in times of common danger, the interests of the two communities could bereconciled.

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