Plain Folk of Color: Rural Free People of Color in the Antebellum Charleston District
Dangerfield, David William
Gleeson, David T.
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This thesis examines rural free people of color and neighboring white plain folk in the antebellum Charleston District of South Carolina. Utilizing the population census, agricultural census, wills, and other materials, this discussion compares rural free people of color and white plain folk through their experiences in rural society and their economic prospects. In the end, free people of color’s many commonalities with their white neighbors break down the distinctions between the two groups and blur the barriers that have separated plain folk and free people of color historiography. While undoubtedly constrained by their race, but economically and socially similar to their non-elite white neighbors, Charleston’s rural free people of color merit their own place as plain folk of color.