Currently reading A People’s History of the United States. On page 33, there is a quote from Flight and Rebellion that says:

“…runaways were defined as various types, they were truants (who usually returned voluntarily), “outlaws”… and slaves who were actually fugitives: men who visited relatives, went to town to pass as free, or tried to escape slavery completely…”

In the next paragraph of the book after the quote, it again says

“slaves born in America, on the other hand, were more likely to run off alone, and, with the skills they had learn on the plantation, try to pass as free men.”

My question is how prevalent were free black people in the colonies. I was completely unaware that blacks were even able to get freedom in the colonies considering they were shipped over from Africa specifically to become slaves. The book quotes are saying that some blacks would try to pass off as being free after escaping slavery, wouldn’t this be kind of difficult unless there was already a somewhat numerous amount of free black people in the colonies already?

Also, a somewhat related question, but how prevalent was black slaves escaping and joining Native American tribes. It is already mentioned that white colonists would join native tribes when their town/condition started suffering from starvation and other issues.

Source: reddit post


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