Outline of Texas
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Black History in Texas
Dr. Juliet E. K. Walker
Professor, Department of History
Outline of Texas
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Freedom for free blacks was established through four different governments: Spanish, Mexican, the Republic of Texas, and Texas. The Spanish and Mexican governments considered free blacks as citizens. With the equality blacks received from the Spanish and Mexican governments numerous of blacks bought their freedom along with their families and moved to Texas. Free blacks could own land and practiced any trade or skilled they wanted to. Some free blacks were weavers, buglers, freighters, innkeepers, land speculators, blacksmiths, ranchers, and farmers. Free blacks owned houses and town lots, raised sugar, cotton, and vegetables as a way of living. Interracial couples came to Texas because Texas was not overly populated and that allowed them to avoid the social pressure of more populated areas. At the same time, many free blacks came to Texas to escape the restrictions on free blacks and the chance for re-enslavement in the United States. Texas at the time was a place for free blacks to acquire land to become wealthy and improve their life. In the Texas Revolution many free blacks fought against the Mexican government because the free blacks hoped to improve their status through the eyes of the Anglos and some feared the retaliation if they did not serve. When the Republic of Texas won its independence the government changed the immigration laws. The Texas government first set limits on immigration by free blacks to Texas and on the status of the free blacks already in Texas. The whites in Texas began to differentiate themselves from the free blacks in dress, manners, religion, and architecture. Also, whites defined the word “black” as being evil and filth. The Republic of Texas set laws that did not allow free person of one-eight Negro blood to vote, own property, testify in court against whites, or intermarry with whites. After Texas separated from the republic more laws were developed that restricted free blacks. Free blacks were whipped for insulting, abusive, or threatening language to whites. Also, free blacks could not have firearms, gamble, hire slaves, dispense medicine, or preach without two slave holders present. The number of free blacks in Texas began to decrease because of the limitations they had to encounter to reside in Texas. With all the laws to restrict free blacks to acquire status as free people free blacks was not that much different from slaves.

Specific Links:
Free blacks
African Texans

Select Bibliography:
Alwyn Barr, Black Texans: A History of Negroes in Texas, 1528-1971 (Austin: Jenkins, 1973), pp 1-12.

Underconstruction animated gif

Last Modified: March 15, 2003