In Haitian history, such mixed-race people, known in colonial times as free people of color, gained some education and property before the Revolution. In some cases, their white fathers arranged for multiracial sons to be educated in France and join the military, giving them an advance economically.
Free people of color gained some social capital and political power before the Revolution, were influential during the Revolution and since then. The people of color have retained their elite position, based on education and social capital, that is apparent in the political, economic and cultural hierarchy in present-day Haiti.
Numerous leaders throughout Haiti's history have been people of color. After being born illegitimate, he became a shoemaker and privateer, ultimately one of the wealthiest men of the New World. In keeping with Spanish practice, for most of its colonial period, Puerto Rico had laws such as the Regla del Sacar or Gracias al Sacar. A person with African ancestry could be considered legally white if he could prove that at least one person per generation in the last four generations had been legally white.
People of black ancestry with known white lineage were classified as white, in contrast to the " one-drop rule " put into law in the early 20th century in the United States. In colonial and antebellum times in certain locations, persons of three-quarters or more white ancestry were considered legally white. Antebellum era[ edit ] Creole woman with black servant, New Orleans, Historians have documented sexual abuse of slave women during the colonial and post-revolutionary slavery times by white men in power: But, Paul Heinegg has documented that most of the free people of color in the — censuses in the Upper South were descended from unions and marriages during the colonial period in Virginia between white women, who were free or indentured servants, and African or African-American men, servant, slave or free.
In the early colonial years, working-class people lived and worked closely together, and slavery was not as much of a racial caste. Slave law had established that children in the colony took the status of their mothers. This meant that multi-racial children born to white women were born free. The colony required them to serve lengthy indentures if the woman was not married, but nonetheless, numerous individuals with African ancestry were born free, and formed more free families.
Many of these free people of color became leaders in the African-American community; others continued to marry into the white community. James Davis, Rapes occurred, and many slave women were forced to submit regularly to white males or suffer harsh consequences.
However, slave girls often courted a sexual relationship with the master, or another male in the family, as a way of gaining distinction among the slaves, avoiding field work, and obtaining special jobs and other favored treatment for their mixed children Reuter, Sexual contacts between the races also included prostitution, adventure, concubinage , and sometimes love.
In rare instances, where free blacks were concerned, there was marriage Bennett, For example, William Ellison owned 60 slaves. Andrew Durnford of New Orleans, which had a large population of free people of color , mostly of French descent and Catholic culture, was listed in the census as owning 77 slaves. In Louisiana free people of color constituted a third class between white colonists and the mass of slaves.
For example, Mary Ellen Pleasant and Thomy Lafon used their fortunes to support the abolitionist cause. Dumas of New Orleans, a free person of color, emancipated all his slaves and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards. Certain tribes of Indians of the Inocoplo family in Texas referred to themselves as "mulatto". Multiracial American Mulatto was used as an official census racial category in the United States until In the early 20th century, several southern states had adopted the one-drop rule as law, and southern Congressmen pressed the US Census Bureau to drop the mulatto category: At that time, the term was primarily applied as a category to persons of mixed African and European descent.
During the colonial and early federal period, in the Southern colonies and states, it was sometimes applied to persons of any mixed ethnicity, including Native American and European.
During the early census years of the United States beginning in , "mulatto" was applied to persons who were identifiably of mixed African-American and Native American ancestry. The term "mulatto" was also used to refer to the children of whites who intermarried with South Asian indentured servants brought to the British American colonies by the East India Company. These were not numerous in the mainland colonies. But a daughter born to a South Asian father and Irish mother in Maryland in was classified as a "mulatto" and sold into slavery.
Thus, children born to slave mothers were born into slavery, regardless of who their fathers were; children born to white mothers were free, even if mixed-race.