Friday, January 18, 2013

18 January 1831: A Local Census Tally

On this day in 1831, the Athenian posted this breakdown of the population count for Clarke county and the city of Athens:

In 1831, Clarke county was significantly larger than it is today, including all of the land now in Oconee county, which cut Clarke in half when it was created in 1875.

The black population is almost equal to the white population, but most interesting is the 29 "free colored" people living in Clarke county in 1831. Georgia had some of the harshest laws for free blacks, including forbidding them from becoming masons or mechanics, skills that would likely lead to economic stability. Georgia and Virginia were the only two southern states that did not allow free blacks to vote.

The state also gave anyone who suspected their supposedly white neighbors of  only pretending to be white to take them to court to make them prove they had less than 1/8th "Negro blood," lest they continue to have the privileges of marriage, literacy, suffrage, and professional employment. However, despite such hardships, free African-American communities did exist, such as Springfield near Augusta, Georgia.

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