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African American History in Bexar County

The primary cause of the dramatic rise in the number of enslaved individuals was the cotton & sugar plantations in East Texas. African Americans made up the vast majority of the population in various counties, but they merely made up 97% of population in Bexar.

Werner, Kaisa & Sarangi, Debalin & Nolte, Scott & Dotray, Peter & Bagavathiannan, Muthukumar. (2020). Late-season surveys to document seed rain potential of Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and waterhemp (Amaranthus tuberculatus) in Texas cotton. PLOS ONE. 15. e0226054. 10.1371/journal.pone.0226054.

Based on available data, a significantly higher proportion of African Americans were employed in the cattle trade in 1860, a far larger industry in Bexar than cotton. Most likely, the 18% of African Americans held in slavery who worked for owners who were also business owners did so in or in a shop or workshop.

Slaves were subject to a curfew of 9:30 p.m. in 1850 San Antonio ordinance, which was extended to 10:15 p.m. in the summer. The owner of the slave whose bondsman or bondswoman had broken the curfew might either pay a $5 fine or $1 to have the slave whipped.

In 1860, about one out of every twenty Bexar families had one or more individuals in a state of lifelong servitude—men, women, or children. When the question of secession came up in a referendum in 1861, the City of San Antonio ultimately voted against it, in part because of its less than enthusiastic support for slavery.

In rural Bexar County between 1860 and 1870, the proportion of non-White people fell from 805 to 347 in the subsequent period, San Antonio's non-White population increased from 592 to 1,957.

Fetcher, J. (2015, February 18). Historical photos show faces of former slaves living in San Antonio - mysa. https://www.mysanantonio.com/150years/article/Slavery-photographs-San-Antonio-6079863.php