Southwestern Historical Quarterly
THE FREE NEGRO IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS*
ORIGIN OF THE FREE NEGRO IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
The term "free Negro" as applied in this paper is exclusively
a legal term referring to those inhabitants of the Republic of
Texas classified as "free persons of color" and subject to the
special regulations enacted to govern them. There were never any
strictly defined categories based upon ethnological considerations
by which Negroes were segregated from whites. Among the native
Mexican population, there probably were some persons with large
percentages of Negro blood, but none of these were technically
In a census of San Antonio recorded by Morfi in 1777, includ-
ing the presidio, villa and the five missions, in a total population
of 2060 persons, 151 are classified as "'de color quebrado' [lit-
erally 'of broken color,' meaning colored]."' Again, Morfi refers
to the Spanish colonists of Texas as "una quadrilla de trapientos
de todos colores," literally "a ragged crew of all colors."2
An official Spanish census of December 31, 1792, records 247
male mulattoes, 167 female mulattoes, 15 male Negroes and 19
female Negroes in a total population for Texas of 1617 males and
1375 females. An itemization of 308 household heads in San
Fernando records 30 families in which both husband and wife
were Negroes, 33 families in which either husband or wife were
Negroes, and 35 widows and bachelors of Negro blood.3 Of 69
Negroes giving their nativity, 24 claimed San Fernando or vicin-
ity, 10 claimed Adaes on the Louisiana border, 8 claimed Saltillo,
one each claimed Guatemala, Guinea and the Canary Islands,
*This paper is a revision of a thesis presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Texas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the M. A. degree.
'Castafieda, C. E. (editor), History of Tecas, 1673-1779, By Fray Juan
Agustin Morfi, Missionary, Teacher, Historian. Translated, with Bio-
graphical Introduction and Annotations, I, 99.
2Morfi, "Viaje de Indios y Diario del Nuevo-Mexico," in Documentos
para la Historia de Mexico, Series 3, Vol. 1, 459.
3Nacogdoches Archives, VI. Texas State Library.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101095/. Accessed September 4, 2015.