A. Layne Wilson
Myne Owne Ground Review
T.H. Breen's and Stephen Innes’s book "Myne Owne Ground" does and outstanding job of pointing out the difference in perspectives when it came to living in the south and being black was like. It goes in depth and shows how a black person was competent and was capable to acquire a wealth that was comparable to a wealthy white man, but it is never recognized by the general white population. The authors make an argument that in early colonial Virginia blacks that owned property were able to live semi-normal, if not prosperous, racism free lives. Breen and Innes argue that before the Virginia slave codes were passed, property owning blacks had a chance to be viewed as relative equals to whites. Breen and Innes do a great job showing how a number of black eastern coast creoles managed to not only survive but thrive. The Johnsons and Drigguses are the most notable. These families and families like these were able to amass enough wealth to buy their own freedom or be given their freedom because of the work they did for their previous owners. Families like these gained enough wealth to set up plantations on Virginia’s eastern shores. They were able to purchase slaves and indentured servants. Since racism hadn’t really taken a strong hold many families intermarried with whites. However, Breen and Innes show that over the course of time there were a larger number of non-Creole blacks that started to arrive in the colony. These blacks were arriving as slaves and had distinct customs, languages, markings, etc. This led to a much more racial environment. Some of the older families like Anthony Johnson’s family had members that began to view Africa as a better place rather than deal with all of the European racism they were facing. European’s had also begun by this time to restrict the rights of these free blacks. Many blacks eventually left to colonies with less restriction such as Maryland. Some...
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