Poor whites - freed by their masters a practice outlawed throughout the South during the 1830s occupied a strange place in society While a handful

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Poor whites.  The lowest rung on the white social ladder was occupied by people who lived on the most marginal  lands in the South—the pine barrens, swamps, and sandy hill country. Poor whites, variously called  “hillbillies,” “white trash,” “crackers,” or “clay eaters,” just barely survived as subsistence farmers,  usually as squatters. Their reputed laziness was primarily due to an extremely inadequate diet;  malnutrition left them susceptible to malaria, hookworm, and other diseases that produced lethargy.  Slaves sometimes had better physical living conditions than poor whites.  Free blacks in the South.  Not all African Americans in the South before the Civil War were slaves. More than a quarter million  “free persons of color” were concentrated in the states of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia as  well as the cities of Charleston and New Orleans. Blacks who managed to buy their freedom or were 
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Unformatted text preview: freed by their masters, a practice outlawed throughout the South during the 1830s, occupied a strange place in society. While a handful found financial success, even becoming landowners with slaves of their own, the majority were laborers, farm hands, domestics, factory workers, and craftsmen who never escaped poverty. Religion played an important role in the lives of free blacks, as it did for slaves, and black evangelical churches, particularly Baptist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME), flourished. Perhaps because planters felt sentimental toward children they had sired with slaves, mulattos accounted for a significant percentage of the free persons of color. As a group, mulattos tended to look down on those with darker skin, whether free or slave....
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This note was uploaded on 11/19/2011 for the course HIST 1310 taught by Professor Marshall during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.

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