Thursday, February 12, 2009

He passed For White.

State of Maryland, Allegheny County, 1807.

Upton Bruce stated that among the servants belonging to his father (Norman Bruce) is a female slave named Phillis, a dark mulatto; that, at an early age, she became the mother of two children, as was universally admitted, by a white man named Andrew Ware. This fact was never questioned, and Ware himself never, to my knowledge, denied it. The children passed for, and were admitted to be his, and assumed his name; one was a. boy, and being myself older than either of them, and brought up as it were in the same family, nothing like doubt rests upon my mind as to his birth and parentage. I am as well assured of it, as I can be of any fact of the kind, and no one, that I heard, ever presumed to suppose otherwise. This boy was raised upon my father’s farm on Pipe creek, at the mills in Frederick county, and being the child of a slave, was reared with the children of other slaves, and stood upon the same footing.

His mother is still living; she it was that nursed him in his infancy, and she considered, acknowledged, and treated as his mother. When I engaged in the management of my father’s property, which I did. on reaching the years of manhood, this boy was then, about twelve or fourteen years old, and he remained along with the other servants until about the age of twenty, when, in consideration of his color, the regard I had for his father, (then dead,) and the desire expressed by that father to have thee children liberated, this boy was suffered to go at large; he promising to make some compensation, which never has been done. After leaving me, he was working about the country some few years, employed sometimes as wagoner, driving a team to and from Baltimore, until at length I learned he entered on board some vessel and had gone to sea; and this life, I had reason to believe, he persevered in, until, for some time past, hearing nothing of him, I supposed it probable he might be dead.

His appearance may have changed since I last knew him; he then had his growth in height, and was, as neat as I could now guess, about five feet six or seven inches high, of a slender make, a thin foot, and he bent or stood rather back upon his hams; his face somewhat round, a nose not large, lips not thick, and a chin rather small; his color was swarthy or Indian-like, remarkably bright though for a mulatto, and would pass for, something nearer white; his hair was of a darkish color, inclined to curl, which he sometimes kept tied; and which, upon inspection, would show to be different from the hair of a white man, and yet far removed from the wool of an African. He went by the name of Romulus, and is, 1 should imagine, now about the age of twenty-eight or thirty.


It is to be noted that Upton Bruce was trying to find out if Romulus was among the many American seamen being impressed off American ships by the British navy, he had sent this statement to the Foreign Relations Office.

It is believed this is the same man.

William Ware, pressed from on board the brig Neptune, frigate Melarnpus, in the Captain Crafts, by the British Bay of Biscay, and has served on board the said frigate fifteen months. William Ware is a native American, born on Pipe creek, Frederick county, State of Maryland, at Bruce’s Mills, and served his time at said Mills; he also lived at Ellicott’s mills, near Baltimore, and drove a wagon several years between Hagerstown and Baltimore; he also served eighteen months on board the United States frigate Chesapeake, under the command of Commodore Morris and Captain James Barron.; he is an Indian looking man.


Anonymous said...

This is really not unusual. That's why dna testing is going to reveal lots of "passing." My maternal g-mother, Viola Beatrice(nee CHISOLM) informed me that some of her aunts and uncles in the Charleston, SC were able to "pass."

Anonymous said...

No it wasn’t that unusual then or now, but then if you were of mix color and tried to pass your self off as white you could get shot or hung, but now days most of us could care less. I posted this story not because it was unusual but because I found it interesting and thought that maybe a ancestor of his may see and enjoy reading the story, and learn more about their past ancestors.

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