The Free Negro in the Republic of Texas
THE FREE NEGRO IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
THE EXTENT OF DISCRIMINATION AND ITS EFFECTS
The Mexican government in Texas offered to free Negroes
liberty, equality and the full rights of citizenship. It engaged
to encourage their immigration by offering them land and tools
for cultivation, and protection in order that they might pursue
their work peacefully. Arrived in Texas, they were accepted as
colonists by the leading empresarios side by side with white men.
Some of them emigrated to Texas for the purpose of enjoying
this greater liberty; others whlo found themselves in Texas for
diverse causes readily accepted the boon and became easily accus-
tomed to it.
In the revolution against the Mexican government, free Negroes
contributed of their property and their personal services to retain
their rights, only to find that in victory they had lost them. As
an ironic reward for their patriotism, the constitution perma-
nently excluded them from citizenship and reserved the right to
pass individually upon their continued residence, seriously cir-
cumscribing their rights in the state without in any way limiting
their obligation to it." in setting up the machinery of government
the free Negro population was not counted in the apportionment
of representation.- Since their numbers were always small,3 their
omission had no practical effect in determining election districts.
Aside from the moral effect of branding them as unfit to participate
in government, this loss of the franchise was not serious.
All the practical value of representation was retained through the
right of petition. The privilege of free Negroes to petition Con-
1General Provisions, Section 10. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, I, 1079.
2Article 1, Section 7. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, I, 1069.
'No census was ever taken in the Republic. The first state census of
1847, counted 304 free persons of color (Texas State Gazette, August 25,
1849), and it is reasonable to suppose that their number never exceeded
300 during the days of the Republic.
4The bill of rights did not mention the right of petition, but the con-
stitution provided that Congress should introduce by statute the common
law of England. Section 13, Article 4. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, I,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101103/. Accessed June 3, 2015.