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It was also possible for a slave to purchase his or her freedom by installments with money earned as a servant or laborer. Finally, in a few cases a slave’s freedom was purchased by sympathetic kin or even by neighbors “who wanted to make a charitable gesture” (Palmer 1976: 175). ” Colonial Mexico did not suffer by this measure, as it always regarded freedom as a right—albeit, an earned right—for its slaves. On the negative side, though, we are confronted by three facts that prevent us from painting an overly positive picture.

In fact, three freedmen were among the first residents of the city of Puebla (Paredes and Lara 1995: 65). Their numbers greatly increased from about 1550 onward, to an estimated 8,000 by 1592 and 15,000 to 20,000 by 1650 (Palmer 1976: 178). Most of them were freed by provision of their masters’ last wills and testaments. Other masters allowed certain slaves to purchase their freedom at an arbitrary price ranging from nominal to much above market value. There were several possible avenues for earning the requisite money (Palmer 1976: 175–177).

Elite intermarriage (usually of women) with indigenous nobles had ceased by 1600 (Nutini 1995: 181). Even today, the descendants of the colonial elite have a European physical appearance (Nutini 1995: 209).

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Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in Color ('86)

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