The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938 Page: 89
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The Free Negro in the Republic of Texas
person Against Trespassing on Sd Primiacis afore Sd."27 The
Ashworth brothers are perhaps the prime example of Negro
frugality, industry and success in farming. In 1837, the first
available report, they owned 1,113 acres of titled land, 934 head
of cattle, 52 horses and five slaves. Eight years later they had
increased their property to 14,296 acres, 2,240 head of cattle, 84
horses and ten slaves,28 which constituted a considerable invest-
ment and a large scale enterprise for the time.
The ownership of slaves by colored freemen was not unique in
the case of the Ashworths. Hendrick Arnold held his daughter
as a slave, and later sold her with the provision that her new
owner manumit her within five years.20 Aside from Negroes
holding members of their families as slaves as a means of giving
them actual freedom, other free Negroes like the Ashworths owned
slaves for purely productive purposes. Among them were William
Goyens who engaged in lively slave trades under the Mexican
regime80 and continued to own as many as nine slaves during the
Republic;31 and Samuel H. Hardin, who in 1844, owned four
Apart from their legal right to hold personal property, which
was never disputed, and real property, which was partially rec-
ognized in 1843, the distinction between slaves and colored free-
men was slight. In all respects save that of the relationship
between slave and master, the disposition of the Republic was to
place free Negroes on a footing of equality with slaves. They
were governed by the same criminal code, forbidden to bear witness
except against other Negroes and confused with slaves in other
legislation, proposed and accepted, designed primarily for the
protection of the peculiar institution of slavery without consid-
eration for the encroachment upon the free status of some
7"[William B.] Burton's Lease to Ashworth, November 12, 1838. Ben-
jamin C. Franklin Papers. University of Texas Archives.
28Jefferson County Tax Rolls, 1837, 1845.
"See Chapter III, 95-98, southwesternn Historical Quarterly, XL, 95-98.
"Sale of the Negro Jerry, John Durst to William Goyen[s], January
3, 1829. Nacogdoches County Court Records, D, 39. University of Texas
transcripts. Indenture. October 25, 1826, Nacogdoches Archives, XXX,
256. Sale of the Negro Peter, William English to William Goyens, Jan-
uary 20, 1826. Nacogdoches Archives, XXVIII, 219.
"Nacogdoches County Tax Roll, 1841.
"Brazoria County Tax Roll, 1844.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938, periodical, 1938; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101103/m1/97/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.