To begin, the 1906 book called , Citizenship of the United States, Expatriation and Protection Abroad,  (A December 20th, 1906 Report referred to committee on Foreign Affairs, and ordered to be printed by the Secretary of State) by the United States Dept. of State, James Brown Scott, David Jayne Hill,  Gaillard Hunt , page 460 says,[1]

“there are however numerous treaties and conventions between the various Christian countries and the Moorish empire, by means  of which citizenship in this country  is defined; but as I understand from the above acknowledged instructions it is not the desire of the department to call for a report on such lines…”

Now a petition was presented to the House from Sundry Free Moors, Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco; and residents in this State, praying that in case they should Commit Any Fault amenable to be brought to Justice, that they as Subjects to a Prince in Alliance with the United States of America, may be tried under the same Laws as the Citizens of this State would be liable to be tried, and not under the Negro Act, which was received and read. The humble Petition of Francis, Daniel, Hammond and Samuel, (Free Moors) in behalf of themselves and their wives Fatima, Flora, Sarah and Clarinda…[2]

The petition explains how they got from Morocco to South Carolina, then it says,

“And now prayeth your Honorable House, That as free born subjects of a Prince now in Alliance with these United States; that they may not be considered as subject to a Law of this State (now in force) called the negro law: but if they should unfortunately be guilty of any crime or misdemeanor against the Laws of the Land, that they may have a just trial by a Lawful Jury. And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.]

Before going further, it’s extremely pertinent to understand that those Moors had resident-alien status which means they were non-citizens, residing on the land; legally, because of  the 1786 treaty of peace and friendship with Morocco and the United States . Because aliens have all the common rights as a citizen, as well as the right to be tried by jury. According to James Madison in his Report on the Virginia Resolutions, which criticized the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. he said,

“an alien has, besides all the common privileges, the special one of being tried by a jury, of which one-half may be also aliens.” This is only 8 years after the petition was submitted.



The above petition comes from the State Records of South Carolina. It can be found in the Journals of the House of Representatives 1789-1790. The petition concerning the “Sundry Free Moors” is on page 364, House Journal 4 January 1790- 20 January 1790. The first thing to note is that the petition was being reviewed by the House on January 20th 1790.

In the same year the Naturalization Act became law. For the record, Naturalization is the process by which an immigrant becomes a citizen, and thereby gains all of the rights that accompany citizenship. The  act was essentially  biased  because it restricted “non-whites” from becoming citizens. The act reads,

“Act of March 26, 1790 (1 Stat 103-104) (Excerpts) That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any common law court of record, in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the Constitution of the United States, which oath or affirmation such court shall administer; and the clerk of such court shall record such application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a citizen of the United States. And the children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: . . .” [3]

Three things of significance concerning the naturalization act of 1790 (which is the first of several naturalization acts) and its relation to  the Sundry Free Moors petition  must be  noted. 1) The naturalization act became law on March 26th, 1790 (1 Stat. 103), about two months after the Sundry Free Moors petition on January 20th.  2) That it makes reference to “Free White Persons”, and that 3) those Moor’s petition contains language that suggests that it could have influenced the definitions of the racial categories provided by OMB’s Federal Directive 15. Not that concrete evidence has been found as of yet to support this, but the language is enough for us to entertain the possibility. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th edition,

“FREE WHITE PERSONS. “Free white persons” referred to in Naturalization Act, as amended by Act July 14, 1870, has meaning naturally given t& it when first used in 1 Stat. 103, c. 3, meaning all persons belonging to the European races then commonly counted as white, and their descendants, including such descendants in other countries to which they have emigrated. It includes all European Jews, more or less intermixed with peoples of Celtic, Scandinavian, Teutonic, Iberian, Latin, Greek, and Slavic descent. It includes Magyars, Lapps, and Finns, and the Basques and Albanians. It includes the mixed Latin, Celtic-Iberian, and Moorish inhabitants of Spain and Portugal, the mixed Greek, Latin, Phoenician, and North African inhabitants of Sicily, and the mixed Slav and Tarter inhabitants of South Russia. It does not mean Caucasian race, Aryan race, or Indo-European races, nor the mixed Indo-European, Dravidian, Semitic and Mongolian peoples who inhabit Persia. A Syrian of Asiatic birth and descent will not be entitled to become a naturalized citizen of the United States as being a free white person. Ex parte Shahid, D.C.S.C., 205 F. 812, 813; United States v. Cartozian, D.C.Or., 6 F.2d 919, 921; Ex parte Dow, D.C.S.C., 211 F. 486, 487; In re En Sk Song, D.C.Cal., 271 F. 23. Nor a native-born Filipino. U. S. v. Javier, 22 F.2d 879, 880, 57 App.D.C. 303. Nor a native of India who belonged to Hindu race. Kharaitf Ram Samras v. United States, C.C.A.Cal., 125 F.2d 879, 881.”
[4] Also see the 1870 Naturalization Act [5]

As mentioned above, racism certainly played a part in the making of the 1790 Act, and its purpose was to exclude all non-whites from gaining citizenship, particularly “Negros” until 1870. That is, 13 years after the Dred Scott case of 1857, and 2 years  after the 14th amendment in 1868. The article, Race in America: From the Naturalization Act of 1790 to the Civil War,[6]  from: Columbia University By: Eric Foner  elaborates on this,

“The fact that the United States of America was committed to liberty yet rested, to a considerable extent, on slavery was more than an irony or contradiction. For slavery helped to shape the identity, the sense of self, of all Americans. Constituting the most impenetrable boundary of citizenship, slavery rendered blacks all but invisible to those imagining the American community itself.
When Hector St. John Crevecoeur posed his famous question “What then is the American, this new man?” he answered: “A mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes…. He is either a European, or the descendant of a European.” This at a time when fully one-fifth of the population (the highest proportion in our history) consisted of Africans and their descendants.
The power of slavery to shape ideas about race and its connection to American identity was revealed in the Naturalization Act of 1790, which offered the first legislative definition of American nationality. With no debate, Congress restricted the process of becoming a citizen to “free white persons.” For 80 years, only white immigrants could become naturalized citizens. Blacks were added in 1870, but not until the 1940s did persons of Asian origin become eligible.

Now the main thing one has to remember when reading the definition of “Free White Persons” in the 4th edition of Black’s is that it gives off the impression that “White” or “Free White Persons” are from pure-blooded European extraction which just isn’t the case, especially when you consider the fact that the notion of Hitler’s “pure white race simply does not exist.” The Black’s definition of  Free White Persons states, ” it does not mean Caucasian race, Aryan Race,  or Indo-European races, nor the mixed Indo-European, Dravidian, Semetic and Mongolian peoples who inhabit persia.”

To further substantiate this , Wikipedia cites from several sources,

“ The term Caucasian race (also Caucasoid, Europid, or Europoid)[1] has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia (the Middle East), [(parts of Central Asia]] and South Asia.[2] Historically, the term has been used to describe many peoples from these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone.[3] Conceived as one of the great races, alongside Mongoloid and Negroid, it was taken to consist of a number of “subraces”. The Caucasoid peoples were usually divided in three groups on linguistic grounds, termed Aryan (Indo-European), Semitic (Semitic languages) and Hamitic (Berber-Cushitic-Egyptian).”

Second thing to remember is that Africa is Africa, so  in the part where it mentions “Moorish inhabitants of Spain, the Phoenicians and North African inhabitants of Sicily,  it should be understood that  all of the aforementioned  are descendants of dark-skinned, wooly haired Moors or their descendants, who populated the various parts of Europe during the mideival period, and prior. Amalgamated or not.  If the wooly-haired, dark skinned people aren’t true representations of real Moors, then why are these so-called Africans being used as symbols on the public structures, religious building and the coats of arms of European nobility? Why would nobility  and ” pure white nobles” at that tarnish representations of their family, name, and or lineage   by placing a dirty  slave on it? Why don’t we see representations of the “Aryanized Moor” or the “Pale Arab” on such important remnants of Western Civilization with the frequency that you see the “African Moor”?

Based on history, the so-called “African” would be part of the original peoples of those lands, as well as Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.  Today’s Geographers, scholars, etc… like to try to separate North Africa from the rest of Africa  (now called Sub-Saharan Africa) and certain countries at that; namely Morocco and Egypt, and for obvious reasons.  This is also how they have been successful in severing the connections between the various tribes and nations from each other, especially descendants of Moors here in America when trying to establish their connections to Morocco.

Racist terms such as “Sub-Saharan Africa only confuses the unlearned among the descendants of those who were drug here in chains from Africa, especially Western Africa, by detaching him/her from their Moorish Heritage with the adding of invisible lines in the sand.

To elaborate on the above point concerning the racism behind the separating of “Sub-Saharan” Africa from the rest of the continent in order to divide the people via “made-up” borders and such,  we will offer an excerpt from the Voice of America website from September 2010, entitled “Campaign Launched to Drop “Sub-Saharan-African-Phrase”,

“Nigerian-born Chika Onyeani, who is chairman ofCelebrate Africa Foundation, told VOA the group has written to the African Union Commission, the United Nations, U.S. President Barack Obama and others urging a halt to the use of “sub-Saharan Africa.” Onyeani said the phrase is racist and used with the onset and spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. “I believe that it is demeaning to Africa because Africa was always Africa during the time of Nkrumah (Kwame). Nobody referred to Africa as ‘sub-Saharan Africa,’ but it was due to the AIDS pandemic. That was when this term started being used to refer to black Africa as against Arab Africa,” he said.

Onyeani said he and his group feel “sub-Saharan Africa” is a racist term that should be rejected by all Africans. “We feel that it’s a racist term, and it is something that Africans should not accept. Right now, there is no other continent that you have sub-anything. You have Europe, you don’t have sub-something Europe; you have America, you don’t have anything sub about (America); you have Asia. But, it’s only the same people who have been referred to as sub-humans that are being referred to as sub-Saharan Africa,” Onyeani said.”[7]


The current U.S. Census definition includes white “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.”[8] However, just like different groups within each country, some of the ancestral and racial heritage of the peoples of not only each Middle East and North African country (Arab or otherwise) is a complex mosaic of elements indigenous to their respective regions, influenced to varying degrees by other elements introduced from historic interactions with Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, and Europe, either because of conquests, slave trade, or simply due to proximity.

In 2010, a group of Arab-Americans in Orange County, California, launched a campaign with the slogan “check it right, you ain’t White”[9] to encourage Arabs to check the box that says “Other” when filling out their 2010 United States Census form and identify themselves as “Arab” or their specific country of origin.

Many Arab Americans, especially those with darker complexions (irrespective of their religious tradition), have been increasingly targeted for discrimination and hate crimes after the September 11 attacks.[10]

A new Zogby Poll International found that there are 3.5 million Americans who were identified as “Arab-Americans”, or Americans of ancestry belonging to one of the 23 UN member countries of the Arab World (these are not necessarily therefore Arabs). Poll finds that, overall, a majority of those identifying as Arab Americans are Lebanese Americans (largely as a result of being the most numerous group), although proportionally, as a group by national origin, Lebanese Americans identifying as Arab Americans may be smaller than, for instance, Yemeni Americans.

Another article from expounds with,

“On the other hand, and according to the multi-award winning filmmaker, cultural writer, photographer and music producer, Owen ‘Alik Shahadah, “Sub-Saharan Africa is a Racist Construct.” “The notion of some invisible border, which divides the North of Africa from the South, is rooted in racism, which in part assumes that sand is an obstacle for African language and culture. This band of sand hence confines Africans to the bottom of a European imposed location, which exists neither linguistically (Afro-Asiatic languages), ethnically (Tureg), politically (African Union, Arab league), Economically (CEN-SAD) or physically (Sudan and Chad). The over emphasis on sand as a defining feature in African history is grossly misleading as cultures, trade, and languages do not stop when they meet geographic deserts. Thus Sub-Africa is another divisive vestige of colonial domination which balkanized Africa.”  Shahadah has made the argument I wanted to make, which is that “The Sahara is a broad desert belt, which encompasses countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Mauritania, and hence are neither “sub” nor “North Africa.” In addition, many African communities historically have traveled freely across this European barrier set for Africans. Moreover millions of indigenous Africans are ethnic natives in Morocco, Libya, Algeria, and Egypt, so even ethnically North Africa is not a non-African territory and testimony to this is the rock art found in this region showing native Africans hunting there 10,000 years ago.” [8]


An excerpt from Wikipedia says,

Sub-Saharan Africa is a common, if imprecise term that encompasses African countries located south of the Sahara Desert. It is commonly used to differentiate the region culturally, ecologically, politically and, more controversially, racially, from North Africa, which has historically been considered part of the Mediterranean sphere and whose residents are primarily of Arab ethnicity. Because the indigenous people of this region are primarily dark-skinned, it is alternatively called “Black Africa”. However the terminology Black Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa is considered by some as a pejorative term and a vestige of colonialism, which divided Africa into European terms of homogeneity. Some criticize the use of the term, because, as it has become in many quarters synonymous with Black Africa, people may not realize that there are also indigenous black populations in North Africa. In addition, the Sahara cuts across countries such as MauritaniaMali,Niger, and Chad, leaving some parts of them in North Africa and some in sub-Saharan Africa. Some black Africans prefer to be culturally distinguished from those who live in the north of the continent.[9]

The undisputable fact of the matter as was mentioned in the sources is that most of the indigenous populations or the original inhabitants in what they  consider as being “non-Sub-Saharan” parts of Africa are actually  the same people they are calling “Sub-Saharan” ,who pre-dated, and influenced the newcomers there today culturally, biologicially, etc..

It was necessary to touch on the Sub-Saharan issue in order to show how the so called “Black” person here in America is being detached from his Moorish Hertiage by socially constructed racial and geographical terms and what have you. Now back to the Sundry Free Moors petition,

“Mr. Edwd. Rutledge reported from the Committee to whom was referred the petition of the Free Moors, which he read in his place and afterwards delivered it in at the Clerks Table where it was again read for information. Ordered That it be taken into immediate Consideration which being read through was agreed to and is as follows Viz. Report That they have Considered the same and are of opinion that no Law of this State can in its Construction or Operation apply to them, and that persons who were Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco being Free in this State are not triable by the Law for the better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and other Slaves. Resolved That this House do agree with the Report.” [10]

The Constitution of the U.S. was adopted on September 17, 1787, (one year after the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the Sultan of Morocco and the U.S) by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. It went into effect on March 4, 1789. [11]

Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution expressly gives the United States Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. The Immigration and Naturalization Act sets forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of, and divestiture from, citizenship of theUnited States. The requirements have become more explicit since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, with the most recent changes to statutory law having been made by the United States Congress in 2001.[12]

Now it should be noted that a citizen of the U.S has to be a resident of one of the 50 states. The petition was submitted a year  after the Constitution went into effect in 1789, which means that those Moors were entitled to the same rights of citizens of that state (and early in the game too!) or the “free white persons” by virtue of the fact that they were subjects of the Sultan of Morocco who was in alliance with the United States via the 1786 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Another thing in question is the phenotype of these Moors which has never been addressed to date.

José Tapiro y Baro (Spanish, 1830-1913)
Head of a moor

The language within the instrument submitted to the house of Representatives should be enough to put to rest all of the speculation about how these Moors looked, because most just  cannot fathom them to have been of “Africoid” stock , to use the anthropological term. The very fact that the petition expresses their concerns of being treated like the “Negros” should be revealing. If they weren’t dark-skinned or had similar physical characteristics of those of whom they are referring to as “the Negros” then there wouldn’t be a need for them to submit the petition in the first place.  If the Moors or all North Africans looked like the pale-Arab types that they like to say are representation of what Moors are, then it certainly would  have not  made any  sense for them to feel that they would be mistaken for Negros when the definition of Free White Persons suggests that North Africans are ONLY of  pure European stock, that is “Pure White”. Believe that!!!

Another revelation comes when examining the language of the Committee in their opinion on the Sundry issue, which gives more credibility to the above claims. It says, That they have considered the same and are of opinion that no Law of this State can in its Construction or Operation apply to them, and that persons who were Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco being Free in this State are not triable by the Law for the better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and other Slaves.”

Now when we look at the Negro Act or laws of South Carolina in 1740, the language in the beginning of the document is basically the same, and it reads,

“An Act for the Better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and Other Slaves in this Province” or Slave Code of South Carolina, May 1740.”


            The Act of 1740 was the information submitted to the house by the Moors which was “received and read”, and that act restricted those subject to that law on all levels. They definitely were not privileged to a just trial by a lawful Jury, as the citizens of the state of S.C. who were “free white persons”. [13]


The whole concept of  a  Moor ,( who some sources claim means black, drawing from the Greek definition of Mauros)  being “free white persons” can be a little confusing to those unfamiliar with the technicalities of these things. To provide a little clarity, Federal Directive 15, RACE AND ETHNIC STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL STATISTICS AND ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTING, adopted on May 12, 1977 gives this definition for white,


“White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.” [14]

            Based on the above directive none of the classifications are anthropological, or biologically based. So it has nothing to do with skin complexion. This was made clear in the Moustapha Hefny case. Hefny was a dark skinned Egyptian who gained media attention after he protested being classified as White upon him immigrating to America, when throughout his whole life he has been  “Black”. [15]

Morocco is in North Africa, but Morocco isn’t the only place in North Africa.   As far as Moors are concerned being descendants of Moroccans (Mauri) born in America, thus Moorish Americans, the White status does apply. This of course is only relevant if Moors choose to remain citizens of the U.S. Using Moor as a nationality is only relevant to those who are not U.S citizens because they would then be Aliens, Non-Citizens, and or Foreign Nationals.

Also in the directive they define “Black” as a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa, which doesn’t make any sense, in relations to the definition that they are giving for white.  Technically there are “black racial groups in the Northern parts of Africa as was dealt with earlier. Wikipedia says of Black People,

“The term black people is used in some socially-based systems of racial classification for humans of a dark-skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups represented in a particular social context. Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as “black”, and often social variables such as class and socio-economic status also play a role, so that relatively dark-skinned people can be classified as white if they fulfill other social criteria of “whiteness” and relatively light-skinned people can be classified as black if they fulfill the social criteria for “blackness” in a particular setting.

As a biological phenotype being “black” is often associated with the very dark skin colors of some people who are classified as “black”. But, particularly in the United States, the racial or ethnic classification also refers to people with all possible kinds of skin pigmentation from the darkest through to the very lightest skin colors, including albinos, if they are believed by others to have African ancestry, or to exhibit cultural traits associated with being “African-American“. As a result, in the United States the term “black people” is not an indicator of skin color but of socially based racial classification.

Some definitions of the term include only people of relatively recent Sub-Saharan Africandescent (see African diaspora). Among the members of this group, dark skin is most often accompanied by the expression of natural afro-hair texture. Other definitions of the term “black people” extend to other populations characterized by dark skin, sometimes including people indigenous to Oceania. [16]

So it should be clear that skin complexion has very little to do with how one is classified in this country as was demonstrated in the case of Moustapha Hefny, who the courts determined could ONLY be white according to U.S standards no matter how “African” he was, looked or felt!  Although it does mean skin complexion to the citizens of the U.S., the government system of classification isn’t based on that. Actually it is the citizens  ignorance of the socio-political factors that contribute to the plethora of discriminative ideologies and activities that go on in the U.S. So at this point it should be clear that these are socio-political constructs and are not anthropological truths. More evidence of these racial classifications being such is in the Sundry Free Moors situation, and particular and a host of other similar cases in general.

One similar case can be found in James Hagey’s, 93 Muslim slaves, Abducted Moors, African Jews, Misnamed Turks from Carologue a publication of the South Carolina Historical Society. This work is particularly interesting because  this incident also took place in the state of South Carolina  around the same time that the Sundry petition was submitted.

“In 1786 two Muslim men appeared in Charleston, SC “dressed in the Moorish habit” and aroused a great deal of suspicion by their strange ways. An officer of the law attempted to question them and found they were Moors who did not speak English. They were taken to an interpreter who found out they came from Algeria and sailed to Virginia were they had been arrested. Then they traveled overland to South Carolina …”

In the same work by Hagey, he mentions an earlier situation involving Moors in South Carolina,

“March 3, 1753 Muslims from North Africa, appear in the records of South Carolina. In the South Carolina Council Journal, No. 21, Pt. 1, pp. 298-299. Two men by the name Abel Conder and Mahamut (Mahomet) petitioned the South Carolina royal authorities in Arabic for their freedom. They came from Asilah (Sali) on the Barbary Coast of Morroco. Their story is that they were in a battle in 1736, with the Portuguese when they lost the battle and was captured. An officer named Captain Henry Daubrib, asked them would they be willing to serve him for five years in Carolina. When they arrived in South Carolina they were transferred to Daniel LaRoche, who then enslaved them for fifteen years until 1753.”

In the Sundry case its even clearer  because based on them being subjects of the Sultan they didn’t have the same legal status as the Negro( Black Status)  although it is safe to say that they possessed the same physical characteristics of those who were  not under the protections of the treaty. Not to mention that the Negro Act of South Carolina itself even restricted the freedoms of Free Negros who were prone to the same social discrimination as those who were in bondage, thus were civiliter mortuus. [17]

There are many things that we consider to be Western in origin or  to be Western inventions  which are really  Moorish. In other words the Moors have contributed many things to Western Civilization, ancient and Modern, which includes the way Citizenship is determined in “this Country” as evidenced by the U.S Department of State.  Some of the historical contributions Moors made are touched on in the Sundry Free Moors Act of 2012 here on this site. Salaam.

Nanya Saa Mir Areef

[4] Blacks Law 4th ( footnote also see Naturalization act of 1870

[5] The Naturalization Act of 1870 (16 Stat. 254) was a law passed by the United States Congress concerning immigration andimmigrants. It was created to deal with two immigration issues: a system of controls for the naturalization process and penalties for fraudulent practices naturalization laws for aliens and for persons of African descent[1]


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