Mulattoes, Mixed Race, and Creoles
Related Links: Maroon Indians

At the Congress of Angostura in 1819, liberator Simon Bolivar was elected president of Venezuela and planned a strategy that would free the Americas of European domination. He also found it necessary to clarify America’s racial heritage: “”It is impossible to say to which human family we belong.

The lager part of the Native population has disappeared, Europeans have mixed with the Indians and the Negroes, and Negroes have mixed with the Indians. We were all born of one mother America, though our fathers had different origins, and we all have differently colored skins. This dissimilarity is of the greatest significance.”

   The 1920s estimate that a third of African Americans have Indian blood requires new research. Today just about every African-American family tree has an Indian branch.

The number of Afro-Americans with an Indian ancestor was once estimated at about one third of the total. In Latin America the percentage is much higher. This means that an important page in history has been missing. Three great races - red, white, and black - built the Americas together. Their contributions and their interrelationships have filled libraries with scholarly studies, history texts, and novels.

Excerpt from: "Black Indians"
By: William Loren Katz

In the lower south, mulattoes appeared later and built their numbers slowly but continuously in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. An important number were born of well-to-do white fathers, and many of these were recognized and sponsored by their fathers, sometimes as slaves, sometimes as free. Mulattoes in the lower South before the Civil War never became so numerous as those in the upper South, and not nearly so many of them were free. Yet when they were free, they tended to dominate the free Negro community both in numbers and influence until emancipation became general. The topmost few, the lightest and the brightest, quite literally the crème de la crème, lived very well- nearly on a par with their white neighbors, to whom they were tied by bonds of kinship and culture.

It was the elite of the free mulattoes who touched most intimately the skin of white society. In the upper South, whites came to regard the lightest of free mulattoes as often dissolute and difficult people. In the lower South before the 1850’s, the white elite seemed to value them in
important ways. Especially in South Carolina around Charleston and in lower Louisiana- the places where free mulattoes were most numerous, most affluent, and most cultivated- were they appreciated. In the 1850’s that relatively tolerant order would rapidly deteriorate. But until then free mulattoes in these enclaves enjoyed a status markedly elevated above that of the black mass, slave and free.



Free mulattoes of the more affluent sort in the lower South were treated by influential whites as a third class, an acceptable and sometimes valuable intermediate elment between black and white, slave and free. In the lower South mulatto relations had a distinct West Indies into eastern Carolina and lower Louisiana during the first years of colonization and continuing contact between the islands and the continent. Unlike early settlement in the Chesapeake world, first settlement in the lower South was characterized by great plantations employing large numbers of Negro slaves.

Our Ancestors

The great number of slaves gave abundant sexual opportunity to white masters and overseers. Those liaisons produced children, but not so many as in the upper South because the number of whites involved was limited to a relatively small number of white men. Some of these children the masters cared for and made free. Some they established in trades or business in the cities. Many remained slaves and filled the ranks of domestic servants. Over time free mulattoe clans emerged, especially in Charleston and New Orleans, interlocking rings of families almost as prosperous, nearly as cultured, and fully as exclusive as those of their planter kin. Just as the planter class dominated white culture, the elite free people of color dominated free Negro culture.

Mulatto planters in Louisiana were an impressive group, but it was in New Orleans that the continuing interchange between blacks and whites, sexual and otherwise, reached the highest and most fascinating level.

As in Latin America, there was a steady surplus of whites males and mulatto females in the city. So common was mixing among the elites of both races that it came to be institutionalized in “quadroon balls.” These were regular and public affairs at which he agreed to maintain the woman in a certain style and provide for any children who might be born of the union. If his offer was accepted, the woman was established in a household of her own, less than a wife and a bit more than a concubine. Sometimes the arrangement evolved into a permanent one; more often it endured a matter of months or years. Liaisons also occurred between white woman and mulatto men, but, true to the Latin pattern, these were notably less frequent.

The period between 1850 and 1915 marked a grand changeover in race relations in America. It was a time in which America switched form what might be called a slave paradigm of race relations to one that was characterized by separation and greater freedom.

Essentially, what happened in the changeover was that the dominant white society moved from semiacceptance of free mulattoes, especially in the lower South, to outright rejection. As mulatto communities in the 1850s confronted an increasingly hostile white world implementing increasingly stringent rules against them in the form either of laws or of social pressures, they themselves moved from a position of basic sympathy with the white world to one of guarded antagonism. In the movement the mulatto elite gave up with alliances and picked up black alliances. The change accelerated in the Civil War, took its set during the critical year 1865, and continued through Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, and into the twentieth century.

By the end of the period, roughly in the two decades between 1905 and 1925, mulattoes led by the mulatto elite had allied themselves rather totally with the black world. Meanwhile the white world had arrived at an almost total commitment to the one-drop rule. In white eyes, all Negroes came to look alike.

The great fact about mulattoes that emerges form a comparison of the census of 1860 with that of 1850 is a massive increase in the number of mulattoes who were slaves. During the decade of the 1850’s slavery was becoming whiter, visibly so and with amazing rapidity. White people were enslaving themselves, as it were, in the form of their children and their children’s children. While black slavery increased in numbers only 19.8 percent in the decade, mulatto slavery rose by an astounding 66.9 percent. The raw number of slaves visibly mulatto grew impressively from 247,000, to 412,000, and their percentage in the total slave population increased from 7.7 percent to 10.4 percent.


Mulatto freedom was the other side of the coin, and the statistics there offered no encouragement. In the South the count of free mulattoes hardly grew at all, rising from 102,000 to 107,000. Without doubt, some mulattoes had gone underground and others had fled.

The total number of mulattoes, rising form 406,000 to 588,000, was keeping pace with the increase of population in the United States as a whole, but the rapid rise in mulatto slavery and the less than average increase of free mulattoes portended a dismal future for mulattoes in America.

Mulatto slavery gaining strength throughout the South in the 1850’s, but publicly white people seemed unconcerned about white blood mixing with black and being held in slavery. On the other hand, they went into a rage against white blood mixed with black and being free. During the decade whites attacked the free mulatto population in the South with unprecedented virulence. As the lower South joined the upper South in the assault on free mulattoes, the line between the two, the line that had been formed by a Latin-like tolerance of mulattoes in the lower South, tended to dissolve.


Creole General
American Mixed Race People
A Mulatto Family
A Unique race of Beautiful Women
Our forgotten Mulatto Heroes
Our Mixed Race Heritage
Our Indian Heritage
My Mothers Generation
Mixed Race Pioneers
Charles Drew....... Developed Blood Plasma
Thw Women who keep the family together
A 1930's era Mulatto
Photos.. courtesy of.. ............ the New York PublicLibrary.........Smithsonian institute .....and the Library of Congress
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