The Rise And Decline Of The Creoles

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The Rise And Decline Of The Creoles Of Color Essay, Research Paper The Rise and Decline of the Creoles of Color The Creoles of color made many great strides in closing the social gap between blacks and whites. This they achieved at a time when most, if not all, basic freedoms were being denied to nonwhites. As a group, these Creoles achieved a great amount of success. many acquired vast fortunes, owning plantations and slaves. What happened to this group of people during the course of history? When American culture began to take the place of French culture in Louisiana, the Creoles of color lost their special status. Their culture was in danger of being forgotten. It is hard to give a specific definition to the Creoles of color. They are a people of mixed ethnic heritage.

Today there is a dilemma over what constitutes a modern Creole of color. During the 18th and 19th centuries however, the definition was basically; a class of people of French or Spanish blood, mixed with the blood of Africans or Santo Domingos. Their families had been free for generations. This group is part of a larger social order known as gens de couleur libre, or the free people of color. The Creoles of color made up a third caste in the ante-bellum south. They stood between, or rather apart, from both the blacks and the whites. They identified more with the upper caste, though they shared the humiliation of being associated with the enslaved. This group was unique to Louisiana. Before the civil war the Creoles of color existed as a separate class. The average white accepted

this middle layer of society and dealt easily with its members. This is the one exception in American history of an attempt to accord a third group special status. Historically, in the United States a person having any Negro ancestry has been considered a Negro. There is no reason why a person with half of his ancestry black and half white should be labeled as black. With equal logic that person could be defined as white. The Creoles of color overcame these labels, if only for a short time. Though the Creoles of color had their own special status, they were by no means regarded as equal to whites. There was a caste system for Creoles of African descent: Negro – Full Negro blood Sacatra – 7/8 Negro – 1/8 White Griffe – 3/4 Negro – 1/8 white Mulatto – 1/2 Negro – 1/2

White Quadroon – 1/4 Negro – 3/4 White Octoroon – 1/8 Negro – 7/8 White The degree of privledge received was dependent on this scale. In other words, the whiter a person was, the more freedoms that person had. Origins of the Creoles of Color There were free people of color in French colonial Louisiana as early as 1725. Some came from Santo Domingo and entered the colony as free people. Others were former slaves who had been given freedom. In March of 1724, the government in France formulated a series of laws called the Code Noir, or Black Code. Though some fo the laws were meant to regulate the conduct of freed slaves, others were designed to protect them. Aothough there was an exception that said free pople of color could not marry whites, one of these laws granted free

people of color the same rights as any white citizen of Louisiana. When Louisiana was taken over by the Spanish, most of the free people of color were upset. They were very proud to be French and did not want to be ruled by Spain. However, Spanish rule proved to be favorable to them, as they did not have to give up their Frnch culture, and the predominant language in Louisiana continued to be French. Under the Spanish regime many slaves were freed. This was partly due to the fact that there was a lack of white European women in the colony. Many French and Spanish men took slaves as mates. It was very common for these men to free the slave women and the children which resulted from thses relationships. After freeing the slaves the man would usually grant them some land and give