VOL. XL APRIL, 1937 No. 4
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed
by contributors to THE QUARTERLY
THE FREE NEGRO IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
THE LAw IN PRACTICE
The free Negro policy of the Republic of Texas, crystallized in
the passage of the definitive act of February 5, 1840, which
remained in effect until emancipation, was to prove more effectual
in theory than in practice. Practical difficulties asserted them-
selves in the facts that the Negro wished to remain and his indi-
vidual white friends were willing to use their influence in making
this possible. By the terms of the law, immigration of free
Negroes was prohibited and Negro residents were required to
remove themselves from Texas within two years on penalty of
sale into slavery. Although these provisions were effectually
designed to make color the universal badge of servitude by anni-
hilating the free Negro class, there is no evidence that any free
Negro left of his own free will and none that he left by force.
The immediate result of this law was a deluge of petitions for
exemptions endorsed by influential white men in favor of their
disfranchised friends, neighbors and servants.
The provisions of the law at first were not clearly understood.
Immediately after its passage, G. A. Pattillo of Jefferson county
wrote to the president enclosing the petition of Jessee Ashworth,"
"Praying Permission to remain quietly in this republic untill the
the next meeting of Congress," obviously for the purpose of gain-
'This petition has not been found.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/. Accessed August 1, 2014.