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.
- Athenian, January 26, 1827 - March 13, 1832 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History by Michael L. Thurmond in the Heritage, young adult, and general collections.
- Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513-2008 by Henry Louis Gates in the new books collection.
- Freedom: Georgia's Anti-Slavery Heritage, 1733-1865 by Michael L. Thurmond in the general collection.
- Neither More Nor Less Than Men: Slavery in Georgia, edited by Mills Lane in the general collection.
- Black Heritage Sites: An African American Odyssey and Finders Guide by Nancy Curtis in the reference collection.
- Springfield: A Free African-American Community in Georgia website.
- "I Was Not Born a Slave, Nor in a Log Cabin" by UGA history student Daniel Jenkins.
- Antebellum African-American Resources from the free Archives.com Experts section.
- Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South, a bibliography compiled by the Smithsonian Institution.
- Free Blacks in Antebellum America in the African American Odyssey exhibit of the Library of Congress' American Memory site.