Question: In Colonial America, Enslaved Workers Who Received Manumission?
A. Purchased their freedom.
B. Escaped to northern colonies.
C. Were freed by slaveholders.
D. Became indentured servants.
Answer: Were freed by slaveholders.
In Colonial America, enslaved workers who received manumission were freed by slaveholders. This was an act of mercy on the part of the slaveholder and provided a way for the enslaved individual to be free.
Manumission also allowed for the enslaved person to gain certain legal rights.
Individuals who were freed usually continued to work for their slaveholders. They could be hired out or contracted out as an individual free worker. If they worked on their own, there was no direct supervision, so it was necessary for them to provide proof of employment.
Freed individuals needed proof of employment in order to maintain certain legal rights. Therefore, an employer had to attest that they were using the services of a free person.
In most cases, this was accomplished by writing a letter of manumission. After gaining freedom, many African Americans chose to find work as apprentices or indentured servants.
This is not to say there weren’t any limits or restrictions on a freed individual. They were usually limited in how much property they could own. If they married, the spouse of a freed individual was also required to be free.
Manumission papers served as proof of employment and legal rights for African Americans after slavery was abolished. Today, manumission is not commonly used by employers or employees.
Modern-day employers generally do not have to engage in manumission, but there are still important employment law implications.
Law of Mnumissions Video
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History of Manumission
Manumission is the act of freeing a slave. In the United States, Maryland was the first state to pass laws allowing for the manumission of slaves, followed by Pennsylvania and New York.
Manumission in Louisiana was slightly different than in other states. Slaveholders could not free their slaves until they had paid off any debts owed and had met all costs related to the care and feeding of their former slaves.
They could then petition the court to grant manumission of their slaves. After this point, however, the newly freed would have to leave the state within thirty days unless they were granted a license from the governor allowing them to stay for an extended period of time.
Once free at last, former slaves often went by “free names”, as opposed to the “slave name” they had been given by their former owners.
For example, men who were formerly slaves would often take their last names from their fathers and women would have their last names from their mothers.
Free people of color could petition for manumission to a judge if they felt they had been illegally enslaved or held against their will. If the judge found that there was no legal basis for their enslavement, they could legally be manumitted by their master or mistress.
Manumission also occurred when slaves reached old age because the master was required to take care of his elderly slaves in much the same way he would his young children.
A slave could also be freed if they were the only support of a sick, disabled, or infirm slaveholder (normally in cases where the sick person was bound to die), which was called “setting free,” and is distinct from manumission.
A slave could also receive his freedom when he married a freeborn woman or when one member of a couple purchased the other.
Manumission became much less common in New Orleans after June 1820, when a new city ordinance declared that if the newly freed slaves stayed in the city for more than 10 days they would be arrested and forced into slavery once again.
Manumissions were also restricted by the Black Code, which stated that no slave could be freed unless the master had the financial ability to support them.
Read: Paths to Freedom: Manumission in the Atlantic World
How did manumission affect different social classes?
Manumission was almost exclusively an act of kindness on the part of slaveholders, who were motivated by their own religious or moral beliefs.
Slaveholders in this time period were primarily wealthy white men, which meant that they were part of the wealthiest social class.
The wealthy men who owned large plantations would not have had much interaction with their slaves but believed that manumission was the right thing to do.
Their sense of morality persuaded them to set their slaves free, even though it financially hurt themselves.
Manumission also affected middle-class people, who had enough money to buy slaves and set them free, but not enough to own large plantations.
This group included merchants, doctors, lawyers, ministers, artisans, craftsmen, and shopkeepers. These people saw manumission as a way of doing good for the community by setting their slaves free.
People in the lower social classes were both freed slaves and free people of color, who spent their lives as house servants. These people were set free by the wealthy white slaveholders who hired them to work for a period of time.
Free blacks could also petition a judge if they felt that they had been illegally enslaved or held against their will. If the judge found that there was no legal basis for their enslavement, they could legally be manumitted by their master or mistress.
Free people of color also petitioned a judge to grant them manumission if they had been illegally enslaved or held against their will.
If the judge found that there was no legal basis for someone’s enslavement, they could legally be set free from slavery.
A slave could also receive his freedom if he married a freeborn woman or when one member of the couple purchased the other.
How did manumission affect different genders?
The manumission affected men and women differently. By freeing their slaves,
The manumitting master freed himself of the legal responsibility for the slave’s maintenance
and care. Men who were freed were given some land, usually around other relatives or neighbors. Men often had to serve the manumitting master for a few years before they could be given their freedom.
Women were often freed on the condition that they are married. But it wasn’t always so easy to find a husband for them, so many freed women became nuns or lived unmarried in convents. Many of the nuns’ writing that has survived from the Middle Ages are by women who were once slaves.
What can be used to support this idea?
In Andrea Arntzen’s article “Freedwomen in Five Slaveholding Societies” she examines three main points that support this topic:
1. Freedwomen often entered into marriage with a vassal, thus creating a bond between the manumitting master and their spouse.
2. When freedwomen were given land by masters, they more often received it from relatives or neighbors of their former owners.
3. In some cases, women who had been slaves would enter convents to become nuns.
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