Advertisement

Beyond Slavery pp 249-264 | Cite as

The “Purity of the White Woman, Not the Purity of the Negro Woman”: The Contemporary Legacies of Historical Laws Against Interracial Marriage

  • Fay Botham
Chapter
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series

Abstract

In early June of 1958, eighteen-year-old Mildred Delores Jeter and twenty-four-year-old Richard Perry Loving drove across the state line from their hometown of Central Point, Virginia, to Washington DC. Sweethearts for some six years, Mildred, who was part black and part Cherokee with a light-brown complexion, and Richard, who was of English-Irish descent, had decided to get married in the District of Columbia. Once their union was legalized there, they returned home to Central Point and began to build their life together.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 11.
    See Francis Newton Thorpe, ed., Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909): Alabama, vol. 1, 124; Florida, vol. 2, 758; Mississippi, vol. 4, 2125; North Carolina, vol. 5, 2843; South Carolina, vol. 6, 3317; and Tennessee, vol. 6, 3469.Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    On the development of racial slavery, see Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550–1812 (New York: Norton, 1968), and particularly the first two chapters, 3–98. For a concise overview of the relationship between American slavery and bans on interracial sex and marriage, see Kennedy, Interracial Intimacies, 41–69.Google Scholar
  3. 15.
    “[A]fter the 1660s, courts focused more exclusively on the monetary damages owed to masters by female servants and their lovers than on the moral nature of the sexual transgression.” Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996) 191. Indeed, protecting the financial investments of slave owners and masters of indentured servants was one of the most fundamental prima facie causes of American laws on interracial marriage and sexual unions.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    White legislators in Maryland soon realized that “such a law legally encouraged masters to force marriages between servant women and slave men in order to gain more slaves for themselves,” so they revised the law in 1681. See Martha Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth Century South (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997) 29.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    On “race mixture,” see George Fredrickson, White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), especially 94–135.Google Scholar
  6. 22.
    W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York: Knopf, 1941) 86Google Scholar
  7. Jordan, White Over Black; Peggy Pascoe, “Miscegenation Law, Court Cases, and Ideologies of ‘Race’ in Twentieth-Century America,” Journal of American History 8 (1996); 44–69Google Scholar
  8. Carter Woodson, “The Beginnings of Miscegenation of the Whites and Blacks,” The Journal of Negro History 3 (1918) 335–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 26.
    Stephen Haynes, Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Sylvester Johnson, The Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity: Race, Heathens, and The People of God (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fay Botham, Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  12. 27.
    W. S. Armistead, The Negro Is a Man: A Reply to Professor Charles Carroll’s Book, “The Negro is a Beast, or, In the Image of God” (1903; reprint, Miami, FL: Mnemosyne, 1969) 36, 537, 539. Armistead’s emphasis.Google Scholar
  13. 28.
    William Montgomery Brown, The Crucial Race Question, or, Where and How Shall the Color Line Be Drawn? (Little Rock, AR: Arkansas Churchman’s, 1907) xxviiGoogle Scholar
  14. Theodore Bratton, “The Christian South and Negro Education,” Sewanee Review 26 (1908) 297Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Rev. J. David Simpson, “Non-Segregation Means Eventual Inter-Marriage,” The Southern Presbyterian Journal (March 15, 1948) 6.Google Scholar
  16. 30.
    Rev. G. T. Gillespie, D.D., “A Christian View on Segregation” (Winona, MS: Association of Citizens’ Councils, 1954) 9, 8.Google Scholar
  17. Pastor Kenneth R. Kinney recorded similar ideas in “The Segregation Issue,” The Baptist Bulletin (October 1956) 9.Google Scholar
  18. 39.
    Peggy Pascoe, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 292, 296.Google Scholar
  19. 42.
    See Rachel F. Moran, Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bernadette J. Brooten 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fay Botham

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations