The founding of New Orleans.......... Click here
The Creole Experience


A Free Person of Color

Creoles of Color were by definition Afro- European (with the possibility of the presence of Native American genes in some cases). They were not "blacks," i.e.,Africans.

 Second they were also normally free persons, not slaves, nor had they descended from slaves. As the historian David Rankin has noted, so called "mulattoes" in antebellum Louisiana enjoyed something of a prima facie claim to free status, while blackness raised a presumption of slavery (Rankin 1978: 381-82; Spitzer 1977: 155).



Creole Shotgun Homes
New Orleans, LA.

Moreover, such free persons of color, often enough "Creoles of Color," were deemed equal to whites in law. There was, in this regard, a substantive, defining distinction between such Creoles   and blacks and a clear value attachment to the status "Creole of Color" among the members of the group.

Creoles spoke French, Standard French in the case of those who were especially advantaged, but surely French in some form. Creoles were of course Catholic;

in New Orleans they were likely to be members of a predominantly Creole parish and very much part of a special community, membership in which was a source of considerable personal pride. Indeed, pride of group; personal attachments to group values (including values associated with their elevated status), education, a kind of bourgeois propriety.

Creoles married one another and, to a remarkable degree, only one another. Marriages were frequently arranged between families, but in any case individuals chose mates from within the community; so much so that a close student of Louisiana genealogy has argued that the Creole population virtually constituted a series of large, interlocked families.





A final defining quality of Creole status might be sought in the very matter of their relative prosperity and in their value commitment to work and its rewards. This feature of their culture was described with considerable clarity in a New Orleans Picayune editorial on July 16, 1859: "As a general rule," the editorialist asserted, the Creole colored people, as they style themselves, are a sober, industrious and moral class, far advanced in education and civilization."      

And there could be little doubt that this was the prevailing attitude with regard to a "class" of people who provided a substantial percentage of "the city's finest masons, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, jewelers, tradesmen, and merchants."

They also owned substantial property, real and personal, including slaves. And, as previous essays in this collection have suggested, in general the defining qualities of the Creoles of Color prevailed not only in New Orleans but also elsewhere among the various Gulf coastal communities in which Creoles formed significant population elements. Such was the
case at least until the coming of the Civil War.

Creoles of Color of the Gulf South (1996)
James H. Dor'mon pg. 167-168




Questions, Comments, Dead Links? Email Webmaster
**All articles taken from selected reaterial presented is only a brief presentation of writings from the publisher & ading materials are the sole property of the authors listed. In no way are these articles credited to this site. The mproducer of each article.
Copyright French Creoles of America®, All Rights Reserved