- Connecting History
- The Supreme Court Case That Enshrined White Supremacy in Law
- CNN - Alabama considers lifting interracial marriage ban - March 12,
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Little else could more effectively raise a mob or garner as much wrath; anti-abolitionists used this to great effect. Part of E. Even William Lloyd Garrison, one of the most radical abolitionists, never advocated actual interracial marriages even as he fought for the repeal of marriage bans. Such marriages among abolitionists were also exceedingly rare.
One of the few known interracial marriages between abolitionists—William King and Marry Allen —resulted in their fleeing the country in fear for their lives. Abolitionist and publisher William Lloyd Garrison spoke out about the injustice of interracial marriage bans left. Abolitionist and writer David Walker called for black unity against racial injustice in second from left.
Most African Americans too were ambivalent toward marrying interracially.
The Supreme Court Case That Enshrined White Supremacy in Law
Even where interracial relationships were legal, derogatory depictions—like E. In rare cases though, interracial couples inside and outside of legal wedlock existed and sometimes even thrived in pockets of the North where local communities paid far less concern than one might expect. Even if community tolerance existed, however, the children of interracial couples unable to legally wed were defined as bastards—a branding that carried real consequences in the 18 th and 19 th centuries as it foreclosed the possibility of inheritance—meaning white property remained in white hands.
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The final image of E. For the enslaved population, however, no such consensual interracial relationship could exist. Even the rare and seemingly loving unions that functioned like marriages between masters and slaves could not—by definition—be consensual.
Most interracial sex under slavery, however, did not even have a veneer of loving attachments and was instead the blatant rape of black women by white men. As part of the justification for the infamous Dred Scott v. Taney used the existence of interracial marriage bans as evidence that the Founding Fathers never intended Black Americans to be citizens. An political cartoon depicting a ludicrous version of the results of racial equality as allegedly proposed by the Republican Party.
The issue even arose in the legendary debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Stanton Foundation. Skip to main content.
The Ohio State University. Department of History. Home Topics Africa. Middle East. North America.
CNN - Alabama considers lifting interracial marriage ban - March 12,
International Relations Religion Education Sports. Search form Search. Connecting History. Many other recent examples explore this theme, arguing against claims that whiteness has historically been a category with no real content aside from opposition to marked categories like blackness.
Defining race continues to be a problem in terms of what race actually is and what it signifies. Some authors advocate deconstructing whiteness itself in the hope that this process will lead to the destruction of racial privilege. While the author sympathizes with the need to destroy racial privilege, she agrees with Omi and Winant's understanding of race as a sociopolitical construct embedded in history with different forms and meanings over time.
New York : Routledge , In the years for which statistics are available — , Alabama attorneys general filed charges against individuals for violating anti-miscegenation statutes and secured convictions. The appellate cases signal the presence of significant constitutional and factual questions. If a particular legal or factual issue was forming the basis for several appeals, one can deduce that the issue was unsettled in law, society, or both.
At such uncertain moments, the framing and discursive choices that individuals made could have profound effects, not only on outcomes in individual cases, but also on the ways that future judges and lawyers would conceptualize the problems.
Robinson , Charles F. The high level of appellate litigation calls into question Alabama's representativeness. While certain factors in Alabama clearly contributed to higher rates of appeals, other states in the region were hearing the same kinds of cases and largely using the same legal principles to decide them. Hodes, White Women, Black Men , 6. Hodes, White Women, Black Men , 28—31, 37, 66—67, —22, Bardaglio, Reconstructing the Household , While the prewar state obviously exerted a high degree of patriarchal control, Bardaglio's research has shown that the postbellum legal system was far more likely to take direct control over families and to step into the traditional role of the patriarch.
Alabama Statutes : Art. I, sec. As Hodes has shown, while the law of slavery conceived of black male-white female relationships as putatively forcible, consensual relationships did exist and under some circumstances were quietly tolerated. While one should not read too much into the placement of particular code sections, the framers did consider the identification of mulattoes and free persons of color as black to be significant enough to make this the fourth section in the entire code.
X, sec. Alabama went through a brief period of flux in the wake of the Civil War as the Republican Alabama Supreme Court invalidated the new postwar statute on Fourteenth Amendment grounds in Still, by the early s, Southern partisans had regained political authority in the state and Alabama's miscegenation law had survived review before the U.
Supreme Court. While the U. Supreme Court invalidated state bans on miscegenation in in Loving v.
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Virginia , U. In , a federal district court invalidated Alabama's law in U. Brittain , F. It is difficult to develop an adequate terminology to represent the racial distinctions in play during this period. I have capitalized it in quotations and references. State , 59 Ala. State , 53 Ala. State , Ala. State , So. The first case in the series was decided in and the last in While the article does not analyze the number of prosecutions, the numbers of appeals did not reflect large differences in the number of prosecutions. In the s, Alabama prosecutors were still pursuing suspected miscegenators with about as much vigor as in the s.
Attorney General of Alabama, Biennial Reports. An interesting side note is that no appellate cases were reported between Jackson v. State in and the U. District Court's invalidation of Alabama's anti-miscegenation statute in in U. The reasons for this absence have largely to do with turmoil generated by intensive white hostility toward the Civil Rights movement.
The white struggle to continue repression became almost completely identified with the issue of school desegregation for a generation. Throughout this article, I refer to the parties in the cases as black and white. In a certain sense, this undermines the precise point that I am trying to make: that race was often ambiguous and difficult to establish.
In another sense, however, these designations reflect the common understandings of most of the individuals involved in the cases, even though defendants tried to challenge these social consensuses. For this reason and for the sake of simplicity, the defendants are mostly referred to as black or white. It is hoped that the reader will keep in mind that these terms were for a time under serious contestation. The statute also implicitly required the prosecutor to show that the black and white couple was of different genders, though this was not a major factor.
Unsurprisingly, no cases addressed prosecutions of same-sex couples for miscegenation.