How did free slaves in Colonial America lead a normal life?

For free blacks, being free did not mean living freely. State laws in every region restricted the rights of free blacks, often limiting their ability to earn a living.

In Maryland and North Carolina, for instance, free blacks had to have special licenses to sell corn, wheat, or tobacco. At all times, free blacks had to carry a certificate of freedom. If they were caught without it, they risked being kidnapped and sold into slavery by dishonest slave traders.

Whether in the North or South, free blacks did not have all the rights of citizens. They were not permitted to vote or to hold public office. They were also not allowed to testify in court against whites, and they could not carry weapons.

If they failed to pay their debts or taxes, they were at risk of being enslaved as a penalty.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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