In the early colonial period, Indian slaves were common in French households, but there was a steady increase in black slaves after the African slave trade began in the 1720s. By 1735, approximately 7,000 enslaved Africans were brought by ship to French Louisiana. Slaves were involved with most of the economic activities on plantations and some were apprenticed to artisans to learn crafts such as blacksmithing, joinery, and pottery making.Portions of the living quarters of the plantation slaves were revealed in the excavations at the Dog River site.
Africans, both free and enslaved, often made up the majority of the population in the colonial period. A 1745 census listed 150 white men and 200 Africans in the Mobile area. During the Spanish colonial period in 1791 there were 258 whites and 475 blacks. Miscegenation between masters and slaves, both Indian and African, created generations of Métis and mulattos. Some relationships were bonded by marriage and witnessed by the church, while others were common law arrangements.