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Family or FreedomPeople of Color in the Antebellum South$
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Emily West

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813136929

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813136929.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Free People of Color and Residency Requests

Free People of Color and Residency Requests

(p.53) 2 Free People of Color and Residency Requests
Family or Freedom

Emily West

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter two explores free people of color's residency requests. Although these tended to be submitted prior to the1850s (when the majority of enslavement requests were written), there are striking parallels in the motivations behind both residency and enslavement petitions. Free people of color's residency requests were poignant forerunners to the enslavement petitions of the 1850s. Slavery and racial discrimination enforced movement among black southerners, and free blacks who petitioned for residency or enslavement were often asking that they be able to remain “still”. Residency petitions also reveal (like enslavement requests) how white and black perspectives towards expulsion differed. Many white people wrote residency petitions on behalf of free people of color and they couched their words in terms of free blacks' economic worth. This language was also adopted by some free blacks themselves, who recognized they needed to perform to expected modes of behaviour in their residency petitions. But other free people of color sadly felt they held little economic value, and framed their rather desperate residency requests in an appeal to humanitarian compassion.

Keywords:   Residency requests, Expulsion, petitions, Free people of color, Slavery, Movement, Economic worth, Humanitarian compassion

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