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Because of this blood mixture Rebecca’s parents were known as “house niggers,”     and lived on quarters located in the rear of the “big house.” A “house nigger”     was a servant whose duties consisted of chores around the big house, such     as butler, maid, cook, stableman, gardener and personal attendant to the man     who owned him.

    These slaves were often held in high esteem by their masters and of course     fared much better than the other slaves on the plantation. Quite often they     were mulattoes as in the case of Rebecca’s parents. There seemed to be a general     belief among slave owners that mulattoes could not stand as much laborious     work as pureblooded Negro slaves. This accounts probably for the fact that     the majority of ex-slaves now alive are mulattoes.

http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/docs/s/slave/slave04.htm

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