Chapter

Indian Foremothers Race, Sex, Slavery, and Freedom in Early Virginia

Peter Wallenstein

in The Devil's Lane

Published in print June 1997 | ISBN: 9780195112436
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854271 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112436.003.0005
Indian Foremothers Race, Sex, Slavery, and Freedom in Early Virginia

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This chapter examines the case of a Virginian woman named Octavia Featherstone, who has a tri-racial background—part white, part black, and part Indian. Featherstone explained that her Indian ancestry—and not her white forebears—made it possible for her to be born and live free in the 1850s. This chapter discusses that some mixed-race Virginians, though born unfree, were designated to remain so only for specific periods; and many non-whites, though born into lifelong slavery, gained their freedom. The chapter focuses on Virginia east of the Blue Ridge, a region whose population in the years between 1760 and 1860, was roughly half white and half non-white, half free and half slave. Tilting the balance was a middle group of people who were free but not white. It takes another look at their origins—who they were and how, though many of them had been born into slavery, they came to be free.

Keywords: Virginia; Octavia Featherstone; mixed-race; Indian; slavery; freedom; race

Chapter.  8909 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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