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In Their Own Words

January 09, 1860

Editorial Supporting Prohibition of Free Blacks

Throughout the ante-bellum period, free blacks were always a thorny problem to supporters of slavery. Eventually, laws were passed prohibiting slave owners from providing for their slaves’ freedom, leaving manumission – the act of freeing a slave – solely in the hands of the state legislature. The number of state and local restrictions on free blacks continued to grow. By the eve of the Civil War, some supporters of slavery were publicly advocating a prohibition on free blacks in Georgia, a position supported by this editorial in Atlanta’s Daily Intelligencer:

“We are opposed to giving free negroes a residence in any and every Slaveholding state, believing as we do, that their presence in slave communities is hurtful to the good order of society, and fraught with great danger to our ‘peculiar institution’; and we speak of this matter now, as the question has been raised, for the purpose of awakening the sentiment of the community to the dangerous element which manumission has placed among us… .”

Source: Spencer B. King, Jr., Georgia Voices: A Documentary History to 1872 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974 reprint of 1966 original volume), p. 202.