Pre-Independence, the term ‘free black’ meant black people who were not slaves. This term continued until the abolition of slavery in 1865. In 1800 and 1830, the northern states’ free black populations were higher than in the south, which depended on slave labour. Vermont was the first to ban slavery in 1777, with New York not following until 1827. The abolition of slavery in Philadelphia in 1780 was slow to be fully passed and in 1830 1 per cent of their black population were still slaves. Slavery was forbidden 1787 in the Ohio Territory, although the regions of the territory, abutting Kentucky and Virginia, flouted this. In 1800, 55 per cent of the black population were still slaves; by 1830, all blacks in the state of Ohio were free. Quaker pressure groups in the north had argued eloquently for the abolition of slavery and created the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape to the north.
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