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1691 Marriage

In Westmoreland County, Virginia, Hester Tate, a white indentured servant, and her husband, James Tate, an enslaved black, have four children; one is apprenticed to her master and the other three to his.


To curtail the growth of a mulatto class, particularly through intermixture and intermarriage of black men and white women, a Virginian law declares that the woman be fined or sold into service for five years, or given five years of added time, and the mulatto be bound out for 30 years. Generally, colonial assemblies fear that having free white mothers might allow persons of mixed races to sue and gain their freedom, thereby creating a legally recognized mixed-race class. Such a class, wealthy whites also fear, would blur the distinctions between dominant and subordinate races and weaken white supremacy. These colonial assemblies did little to prevent white male masters from sexually exploiting their black slaves, however, because the offspring of such liaisons take on the social status of the enslaved woman.

1693 Politics

King Charles II of Spain issues a royal proclamation on the status of runaways to Florida. Word of the Spanish proclamation spreads quickly among blacks living in the Carolinas, and the number of escapees steadily increases as they battle slave catchers, hunger, and dangerous swamps. This is, in fact, the first underground railroad, more than a century before the Civil War.

1695 Food and Drink

Isavel de los Rios is a free black woman who lives in St. Augustine and sells fresh baked rosquetes (spiral rolls), sugar syrup, and possibly other provisions from her home. In a court case against several Apalachee Indians, Isavel and Captain Chrispin de Tapia, a free black man who runs a grocery store, claim that Apalachee customers have given them counterfeit money for the purchase of rolls and other goods.