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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 the Enslaved

Free People of Color and the Enslaved

(p.93) 4 Free People of Color and the Enslaved
Family or Freedom

Emily West

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter four considers expulsion and enslavement from the perspective of free people of color themselves. Drawing upon “feelings”, emotions and the importance of familial and community ties, it illustrates how free blacks who submitted enslavement petitions were often enmeshed in spousal or other affective relationships which crossed the boundary between slavery and freedom. These people placed their families before their legal status when requesting bondage. A sense of place in which one belonged underscored the petitioners' desire for enslavement, and while their rhetoric often focused on economic benefits of slavery to whites, free people of color themselves were prioritizing their own personal relationships. Love and affection for family members with whom the petitioners wished to live was cited as the primary motivational factor in many enslavement cases, and the often poignant testimony of the petitioners reveals the extent of romantic attachment to spouses, as well as love for wider kin networks within affective communities.

Keywords:   Familial ties, Affective relationships, Love and affection, Enslavement petitions, Emotions, Motivations, Kin networks

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