Free Black People in Antebellum America During the Antebellum period, White northerners wanted nothing to do with African Americans. They believed that the African Americans were incapable of honest work and the northerners also feared black competition for Jobs. They also believed that African Americans had degraded white southerners and would also corrupt white northerners if permitted. Because of that, nearly every northern state considered, and many adopted measures to prohibit or restrict the further immigration of Negroes.

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During this period of time, African Americans were still eing treated harshly. There were laws such as the black laws, which limited the freedom of African Americans. African Americans rarely were allowed to vote ;often advocated segregated housing, schools, and transportation, and limited African Americans employment opportunities. Despite the poor prospects of most northern African Americans, A black elite emerged during the first 6 decades of the 19th century. Members In this elite could be achieved through talent, wealth, occupation, family connections, complexion, and education.

The elite was what led in the development of black institutions and ulture, in the antislavery movement, and in the struggle for racial justice. It was also the bridge between the black community and sympathetic white people. Even though few African Americans achieved financial security during the antebellum period, black people could become rich. Segregated neighborhoods gave rise to a black professional class of physicians, lawyers, ministers and undertakers who only served African Americans. Blacks merchants could gain wealth selling to black communities.

Other African Americans Included skilled tradesmen, such as carpenters, barbers, aiters, and coachmen, who generally would flnd work among white people. Before 1820’s black craftsmen had been In demand, but, given the choice, white people preferred to employ other white people, which meant that black people suffered. To make things even worse for African Americans, white workers excluded young black men apprenticeships, refused to work with black people and used violence to prevent employers from hiring black workers when white workers were unemployed.

For the rest of the antebellum period, most northern black men erformed menial day labor, which there were some who were

Page 2 Free Black People in Antebellum America Essay

coachmen, teamsters, waiters, barbers, masons and plasterers. In the antebellum decades, Black institutions became more varied and numerous because the population of African Americans grew, the exertions of the African American elite, and the persistence of racial exclusion and segregation. At the time, groups, newspapers, Journals, and much more. Aside from all of that, the most important black community institution remained the church. During this period, black churches were community centers.

They housed school and meeting places for other organizations. A lot of times, anti-slavery societies met in churches. At the time, education was racially segregated in the north between 1820-1860. This was a rough time for parents because of the segregation issue. Whites Just didn’t want African American students in their classrooms because they claimed that black children lacked mental capacity and lowered the quality of education. The whites were also afraid that opening schools to black children would encourage more black people to live in the school district.

How to educate African American children who weren’t allowed to attend school with white children became a persistent issue in the North. The free blacks in the South did have some similarities and differences to the free blacks that lived in the north. Some of the similarities were that their rights were still limited, they were still discriminated against, they couldn’t become citizens, and they were still treated as property. Some of the differences were that in general, free blacks in the north, despite the limits on their liberty, had opportunities that their outhern counterparts did not enjoy.

Another difference was that unlike the black northerners, free black people in the upper south lived along side slaves. One last difference was that free black people in the upper south were also more at risk of being enslaved that were black northerners. During the antebellum decade, most free African Americans in the Deep South were closer with their former masters than the slaves. To ensure the loyalty of such free people of color, powerful white people provided them with Jobs, loans, protection nd such special privileges like the ability to vote and to testify against white people.

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