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Official Spanish census records 247 male and 167 female mulattoes


On this day in 1792, an official Spanish census recorded 247 male mulattoes, 167 female mulattoes, 15 male Negroes, and 19 female Negroes in a total population for Texas of 1,617 males and 1,375 females. Thus the black and mulatto population constituted 15 percent of the total population. Spanish law required free blacks to pay tribute, forbade them to carry firearms, and restricted their freedom of movement. In practice Spanish officials ignored such restrictions. After the Mexican War of Independence (1821), the Mexican government offered free blacks full rights of citizenship, but numerous free blacks fought for Texas independence--some fearing Anglo retribution if they did not serve, and others sharing Anglo beliefs about the Mexican government. However, the Congress of the Republic of Texas and, following annexation, the state legislature passed a series of increasingly repressive laws governing the lives of free blacks. The increased restrictions and the rise in white hostility resulted in a virtual halt to additional free black immigration to Texas. The United States census reported 397 free blacks in Texas in 1850 and 355 in 1860, though there may have been an equal number of free blacks not counted.

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