Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diving Into. . .

File Box 1, File No. 1.4, Part I.1
Franklin, John Hope. "The Free Negro In The Economic Life Of Ante-Bellum North Carolina, Parts I & II," in The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XIX, No. 3, July 1942, pp. 239-259; and Vol. XIX, No. 4, October 1942, pp. 358-375.


Apprentice Bonds
As early as 1733 children of free Negro parents were being bound out as apprentices. In that year it was reported to the upper house of the General Assembly that "divers free people, Negroes and mulattoes were bound out until they came to 31 years of age, contrary to the consent of the Parties bound out." . . . On July 12, 1733, the General Assembly passed an act declaring that the binding out of free Negroes against their consent was an illegal act (p. 240).
 We've discussed apprenticeship bonds before, especially in relation to Isaac Carter and his siblings. Beyond the historical laws dictating the conditions under which minors could be apprenticed, Franklin provides a table recording the FREE NEGRO APPRENTICES IN CRAVEN COUNTY, 1800-1860.

Of 214 apprentices recorded during this period for Craven County, 32 occupations were represented. The highest occurring occupations were Carpenter (20), Cooper (41), Farmer (26), Shoemaker (13) and Spinner (55). Franklin notes that these occupations were representative of conditions in the county by areas where the labor force needed additional support.
Not infrequently free Negro children were bound out to free Negro masters. It may have been that the more affluent free Negroes took over the children of their less fortunate fellows to prevent their being bound out by the county court to some person with whom they were not acquainted. The records of Craven County show that John C. Stanly, a wealthy free Negro, was continuously binding free Negro children to himself (p. 244).

Further discussion of John Caruthers Stanly can be found here.

By the end of the period, Franklin notes that there had been nearly two-thousand free Negro children working within the homes of white people as apprentices, leading to the emergence of skilled free Negro farmers and tradesmen in the state.

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