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Free people of color

Persons of partial African and European descent who were not enslaved / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, free people of color (French: gens de couleur libres; Spanish: gente de color libre) were primarily people of mixed African, European, and Native American descent who were not enslaved. However, the term also applied to people born free who were primarily of black African descent with little mixture.[1] They were a distinct group of free people of color in the French colonies, including Louisiana and in settlements on Caribbean islands, such as Saint-Domingue (Haiti), St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. In these territories and major cities, particularly New Orleans, and those cities held by the Spanish, a substantial third class of primarily mixed-race, free people developed. These colonial societies classified mixed-race people in a variety of ways, generally related to visible features and to the proportion of African ancestry.[citation needed] Racial classifications were numerous in Latin America.

Free Women of Color with their Children and Servants, oil painting by Agostino Brunias, Dominica, c. 1764–1796.

A freed African slave was known as affranchi (French: "freed"). The term was sometimes meant to include the free people of color, but they considered the term pejorative since they had been born free.[2]

The term gens de couleur libres (French: [ʒɑ̃ kulœʁ libʁ] ("free people of color") was commonly used in France's West Indian colonies prior to the abolition of slavery. It frequently referred to free people of mixed African and European ancestry.[3]

In British North America, the term free Negro was often used to cover the same class of people—those who were legally free and visibly of African descent.