Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Counting AmericansHow the US Census Classified the Nation$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Paul Schor

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917853.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 December 2019

Color and Status of Slaves

Color and Status of Slaves

Legal Definition and Census Practice

Chapter:
(p.61) 6 Color and Status of Slaves
Source:
Counting Americans
Author(s):

Paul Schor

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917853.003.0007

This chapter discusses how the definition of race varied over time and place and remained uncertain in cases judged by the courts in the antebellum era. In the 1850s, a claim of whiteness was an argument that could be made in court to obtain liberty, since a white person could not be a slave. Legal status did not rest on the same forms of proof as the census, but the two perspectives overlapped. Comparing the procedures for determining the legal status of slaves with the procedure adopted by the census for assigning the color of individuals shows the profound ambiguity of the latter. The language used by the legislators in 1850 and retained until the end of the century was clearly that of the scientific rules then in favor, based on the parts of black blood and of genealogy. However, in practice individuals were judged by their appearance rather than genealogy.

Keywords:   race, racism, slaves, legal status, genealogy, US census, antebellum era, color

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .