Mulattos basically had a higher status as long as they were considered white.
Mulattos often held leadership positions and were trusted by both whites and blacks. As a result some mulattos internalized this attitude of superiority, buying into the white racist structure that privileged whiteness. Many newly freed mulattos moved to the North, and abolitionists used them to gain white support against slavery by noting the physical similarities between mulattos and whites to invoke outrage at the institution of slavery. Some mulattos relied on their white features to win inheritance cases in court. According to Charles Robinson, "petitions for freedom actually came before the county magistrates from biracial offspring prior to … 1662" (Robinson 2003, p. 3). Mulattos would buy their freedom and the freedom of their family members. During the Reconstruction era in the United States, after slaves had been freed, the majority of black leaders in politics, economics, and education were mulattos.
After slavery ended, the need to discourage interracial unions increased as concerns about maintaining racial purity moved to the forefront for southern whites. Robinson argues that "mixed-race people could and did pass as white and successfully join white society by dint of marriage. Southern whites became increasingly alarmed about the potential of ‘invisible’ blackness to infiltrate white society" (Robinson 2003, p. 102). Robinson further notes that "in 1924, the state of Virginia passed the first anti-miscegenation statute that firmly embraced the one-drop rule" (Robinson 2003, p. 101): Citizens of the state were required to register their racial identities, and anyone with any degree of black ancestry was required to register as black.