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‘Of A Yellow Complexion’
Chinese Slaves in Plantation Maryland?


Below is an inventory indicating the very mixed-race character of colonial servant households. Having three races of servants under one roof was common in 17th and 18th century plantations, especially in Pennsylvania, New York and New England with the minority Native Americans replaced by East Indians around 1700. Documents from this period in Maryland, Virginia and Carolina indicate that “East Indians” some “yellow” and some “dark” and some nondescript were routinely suing their masters.

Mr John Stokes of Baltimore Co, 22 January 1732

1 Negro named Tom aged about 45 years 30 pounds [1]

1 white servant about 14 mos to serve 6 pounds

1 East India Indian about 16 mos to serve 2 pounds

-Maryland Prerogative Court (Inventories)

MARYLAND GAZETTE

Windley, Runaway Slave Advertisements II:

p.36-7, Annapolis Maryland Gazette, July 17, 1760

Upper Marlborough, July 15, 1760

Ran away from Mr. Hepburn's Plantation, near Rock-Creek Bridge in Frederick County, on Saturday the 12th Instant, a Negro Man named Will, a little more than 5 feet high; he is of a yellow Complexion, being of a mix'd Breed, between an East-Indian and a Negro, [2] has a large full Eyes, long Wool on his Head, and Lips.

J. Hepburn.

p.111, May 25, 1775

...living in Prince George's County, near Upper Marlborough, on Sunday the 26 the of March, a negro man, named Sam, but generally called and known by the name of Sam Locker; between thirty and forty years of age, has rather long hair, being of the East-Indian breed; [3] he formerly belonged to Mr. Isaac Simmons near Pig Point, in Anne Arundel County; the said Simmons now lives near Calvert County court house, and I suppose the fellow may endeavor to get down to his old master's house.

Notes

1. The superior regard and affection for negro and Indian servants over whites is indicated most austerely by the lack of names for individual whites. Negroes, being most prized, were named more often in inventory than Indians and Indians more often than whites, a habit which is reflected in the table of descending values that are the inventories of deceased slave masters. Looking at this inventory we see that the race of a person is often code for the longevity of his service, with the white servant in this inventory being worth more than the Indian on account of his greater time owed.

2. Negro Will seems to be an early victim of the “one drop” rule.

3. Sam Locker is clearly stated not to be a Negro yet is named a Negro in the same document, bringing to mind the kidnapped white boys who were artificially darkened after kidnapping to pass for negroes. This entire system reveals itself as nothing but a complex effort to deny freedom to as many people possible and consequently of owing service to human livestock speculators.

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Add Comment
Sam J.January 6, 2017 12:05 AM UTC

This system is course the fruits of...Diversity, that they are so fond of.