The Anti-Miscegenation History of the American Southwest, 1837 To 1970: Transforming Racial Ideology into Law

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2011-03-06 20:50Z by Steven

The Anti-Miscegenation History of the American Southwest, 1837 To 1970: Transforming Racial Ideology into Law

Cultural Dynamics
Volume 20, Number 3 (November 2008)
pages 279-318
DOI: 10.1177/0921374008096312

Martha Menchaca, Professor of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin

This article proposes that a historical analysis of court cases and state statutes can be used to illustrate how racist ideologies were transformed into practice and used to legalize racism. To exemplify this argument, marriage prohibition laws in the United States Southwest from 1837 to 1970 are examined.  This analysis demonstrates that African Americans and Anglo Americans were not the only groups affected by anti-miscegenation legislation.  Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans were also profoundly affected and their respective histories contribute to a more indepth understanding of the policies and practices used by state governments and the courts to discriminate against people of color.  This article also reveals that most legal cases reaching state supreme courts in the Southwest involved Mexican Americans because their mixed racial heritage placed them in a legally ambiguous position.

…Afromestizos and the First Anti-Miscegenation Law in the American Southwest

The history of anti-miscegenation law in the American Southwest began after Texas obtained independence from Mexico in 1836. One year later, on 5 June 1837, the newly formed Republic became the first nation in the Southwest to prohibit people of different races from marrying freely (Marital Rights, art. 4670, 2466, in Paschal, 1878: 783). People of European blood and their descendants were prohibited from marrying Africans and their descendants. A racially mixed person could marry a White person if they had no African ancestors in the last three generations. If the law was broken, the White person was sentenced to two to five years in prison. Texan congressmen justified imprisonment by the seriousness of ‘the offense against public morals, decency, and chastity’ (Tex. Penal Code 386, in Paschal, 1878: 429).

Texas’s anti-miscegenation codes were part of the Republic’s larger body of racially discriminatory laws passed after independence. In 1836, Mexico’s liberal racial legislation was rescinded. Citizenship was no longer extended to all people and Mexico’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1829 was nullified. Only Anglo Americans and Mexicans who were not of African heritage were given citizenship (Cx. of the Repu. of Tex. 1836, art. 6, s. 6, in Laws of Tex., vol. 2, p. 1079). Slavery was also reinstated and freed Blacks who had been emancipated under Mexican law were returned to bondage…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,

Miscegenation and Race: A Roundtable on Peggy Pascoe’s What Comes Naturally [A Tribute]

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2010-12-06 18:43Z by Steven

Miscegenation and Race: A Roundtable on Peggy Pascoe’s What Comes Naturally [A Tribute]

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies
Volume 31, Number 3, 2010
pages 1-5
E-ISSN: 1536-0334, Print ISSN: 0160-9009

Estelle B. Freedman, Edgar E. Robinson Professor of History
Stanford University

The following papers pay tribute to Peggy Pascoe’s [1954-2010] extraordinary book What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America, published in 2009 by Oxford University Press. They originated at a session held at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) in January 2010 to explore the implications of Pascoe’s work for current histories of race and gender. Sitting in the audience, I enjoyed not only the roundtable but also the deep pleasure evident on Pascoe’s face as she listened to the presentations and to the discussion of the influence of her book on our scholarship and our teaching. Peggy Pascoe always makes us think harder, in her gentle and affirming ways. This session gave her a taste of the rewards sown by her latest scholarly achievement. I could sense that day that I shared with others in attendance a sense of pride and vicarious gratification that so treasured a colleague should be recognized in this way.

Both sweeping and detailed, What Comes Naturally constructs the dual histories of the criminalization of interracial marriage and the resistance to that process by individuals and social movements, spanning the century between the 1860s and the 1960s. Since its publication in 2009 the book has been widely honored. It has received both the Hawley Prize and the Levine Award from the Organization of American Historians, both the Dunning and the Kelly Prizes from the American Historical Association, and the Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association. The range of subjects covered by these awards is telling: economy, politics, or institutions; cultural history; women’s history or feminist theory; American history; sociolegal history. In short, this is a book that has already had a profound effect on the profession across its many specializations…


Legal Fictions Exposed
pages 6-14

Eileen Boris, Eileen Boris Hull Professor and Chair of Feminist Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

What Comes Naturally: A Racially Inclusive Look at Miscegenation Law
pages 15-21

Jacki Thompson Rand, Associate Professor of History; American Indian and Native Studies
University of Iowa

“The Relics of Slavery”: Interracial Sex and Manumission in the American South
pages 22-30

Jessica Millward, Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Irvine

Nikki Sawada Bridges Flynn and “What Comes Naturally”
pages 31-40

Valerie J. Matsumoto, Professor of History
University of California, Los Angeles

Therapeutic Culture and Marriage Equality: What Comes Naturally and Contemporary Dialogues about Marriage
pages 41-48

Kristin Celello, Assistant Professor of History
City University of New York, Queens College

Social Movements, the Rise of Colorblind Conservativism, and “What Comes Naturally”
pages 49-59

Matt Garcia, Associate Professor of American Civilization, Ethnic Studies and History
Brown University

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

But Think of the Kids: Catholic Interracialists and the Great American Taboo of Race Mixing

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2010-11-27 18:03Z by Steven

But Think of the Kids: Catholic Interracialists and the Great American Taboo of Race Mixing

U.S. Catholic Historian
Volume 16, Number 3
Sources of Social Reform, Part One (Summer, 1998)
pages 67-93

David W. Southern, Cotton Professor of History
Westminster College, Fulton Missouri

After requesting church funds for the Catholic Interracial Council of New York (CICNY) in the late 1930s, Father John LaFarge, the foremost Catholic integrationist in the first half of the twentieth century, found he had to justify his plea before James Francis Mclntyre, the much-feared chancellor of the archdiocese of New York, A mean-spirited and authoritarian bishop, Mclntyre had earlier warned the CICNY that church work among African Americans should stress religious conversion rather than social and economic reform. Even though Mclntyre’s conservative attitude was known, LaFarge was startled when the bishop unexpectedly punctuated their meeting by accusing him of advocating interracial marriage.

Mclntyre’s charge was preposterous. Before the post-civil rights era, few American liberals, including African Americans, advocated interracial marriage. While the militant black leader W. E. B. Du Bois preached that no one of his race could sanction antimiscegenation laws that were based on the innate inferiority of African Americans, he did not make the repeal of such laws a high priority. As editor of the Crisis in the 1910s and 1920s, he mostly reported successes in defeating newly proposed antimiscegenation laws in Washington, D.C., and in northern states; and like most white liberals, he insisted that 999 out of each thousand black men had no desire to many white women…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Forsaking All Others: A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2010-08-20 16:09Z by Steven

Forsaking All Others: A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South

University of Tennessee Press
160 estimated pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-57233-724-4; 1572337249
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-57233-740-4; 1-57233-740-0

Charles F. Robinson, Vice Provost for Diversity; Associate Professor of History and Director of African American Studies
University of Arkansas

The electronic book (E-Book) is available now.

An intensely dramatic true story, Forsaking All Others recounts the fascinating case of an interracial couple who attempted—in defiance of society’s laws and conventions—to formalize their relationship in the post-Reconstruction South. It was an affair with tragic consequences, one that entangled the protagonists in a miscegenation trial and, ultimately, a desperate act of revenge.

From the mid-1870s to the early 1880s, Isaac Bankston was the proud sheriff of Desha County, Arkansas, a man so prominent and popular that he won five consecutive terms in office. Although he was married with two children, around 1881 he entered into a relationship with Missouri Bradford, an African American woman who bore his child. Some two years later, Missouri and Isaac absconded to Memphis, hoping to begin a new life there together. Although Tennessee lawmakers had made miscegenation a felony, Isaac’s dark complexion enabled the couple to apply successfully for a marriage license and take their vows. Word of the marriage quickly spread, however, and Missouri and Isaac were charged with unlawful cohabitation. An attorney from Desha County, James Coates, came to Memphis to act as special prosecutor in the case. Events then took a surprising turn as Isaac chose to deny his white heritage in order to escape conviction. Despite this victory in court, however, Isaac had been publicly disgraced, and his sense of honor propelled him into a violent confrontation with Coates, the man he considered most responsible for his downfall.

Charles F. Robinson uses Missouri and Isaac’s story to examine key aspects of post-Reconstruction society, from the rise of miscegenation laws and the particular burdens they placed on anyone who chose to circumvent them, to the southern codes of honor that governed both social and individual behavior, especially among white men. But most of all, the book offers a compelling personal narrative with important implications for our supposedly more tolerant times.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Law: Anti-Miscegenation Statutes: Repugnant Indeed

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Virginia on 2010-06-17 15:34Z by Steven

The Law: Anti-Miscegenation Statutes: Repugnant Indeed

Time Magazine

Judge Leon Bazile looked down at Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving as they stood before him in 1959 in the Caroline County, Va. courtroom. “Almighty God,” he intoned, “created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” With that, Judge Bazile sentenced the newlywed Lovings to one year in jail. Their crime: Mildred is part Negro, part Indian, and Richard is white.

In Virginia, as in 15 other states (the number was once as high as 30), there is a law barring white and colored persons from intermarrying. The Lovings could have avoided the sentence simply by leaving the state, but they eventually decided to fight the Virginia antimiscegenation law “on the ground that it was repugnant to the 14th Amendment.” In rare unanimity, all nine Supreme Court Justices agreed last week that it was repugnant indeed.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

How Mixed-Race Politics Entered the United States: Lydia Maria Child’s ‘Appeal’

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States, Virginia on 2010-04-12 17:11Z by Steven

How Mixed-Race Politics Entered the United States: Lydia Maria Child’s ‘Appeal’

ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance
Volume 56, Number 1, 2010 (Nos. 218 O.S.)
pages 71-104
DOI: 10.1353/esq.0.0043

Robert Fanuzzi, Assistant Chair and Associate Professor of English
St. Johns University, Queens, New York

For scholars of the colonial and early national United States, it is difficult if not impossible to retell the story of social egalitarianism and political liberty without recounting the social, political, and legal codes governing the practice of miscegenation. Under both the colonial British regime and the post-Revolutionary political order of the United States, these laws and customs operated hand in hand with the equally determinate laws of slavery and citizenship, helping to decide who was a democratic subject and who was not.

In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Virginia, prohibitions against mixed-race marriages and extramarital unions along with their mixed-race offspring helped to create a new, putatively classless caste system, which equated the dignity of free labor and property holding with a pure British ancestry and the indignity of coercive labor with an African ancestry. In doing so, these laws paved the way for a historic argument for civic equality that rendered the American colonist the genetic bearer of English liberty.  In the new American republic, miscegenation laws functioned even more transparently as citizenship decrees, stipulating the whiteness of politically enfranchised subjects and, often capriciously, the blackness of the enslaved or disenfranchised. The logical outcome of these laws, the “one drop of blood” provision, was a testament to the determination of the privileged caste to maintain an artificially scarce supply of citizens by keeping their legal, economic, and political assets from their mixed-race descendants.

Miscegenation laws and regulations played an equally formative role in the civic culture of the antebellum era, when social prejudice against race mixing helped to police civil relations and to foreclose the scope of civic activism…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Preserving Racial Identity: Population Patterns and the Application of Anti-Miscegenation Statutes to Asian Americans, 1910-1950

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2010-03-15 01:34Z by Steven

Preserving Racial Identity: Population Patterns and the Application of Anti-Miscegenation Statutes to Asian Americans, 1910-1950

Berkeley Asian Law Journal
Volume 9, Number 1 (2002)
pages 1-40

Gabriel J. Chin
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy

Hrishi Karthikeyan
New York University School of Law

This essay explores the relationship between Asian American population and applicability of anti-miscegenation laws to that group in the first half of the 20th Century, testing legal scholar Gilbert Thomas Stephenson‘s theory that racial restrictions would arise whenever non-whites of any race exist in considerable numbers. Several states prohibited Asian-white intermarriage even though the Asian American numbers failed even remotely to approach those of the white population in those states. These anti-miscegenation statutes were unique in the Jim Crow regime in the degree of specificity with which they defined the racial categories subject to the restrictions, using precise terms like Japanese or Mongolians, rather than broad terms like colored. Further, the number of statutes applicable to Asians more than doubled between 1910 and 1950, even though census data shows that the proportion of Asian population was stable or declining in these states, and in any event tiny.

The proliferation of anti-Asian miscegenation laws raises important questions about the racial landscape of our country during this period. Correlating census data with the development of anti-miscegenation statutes suggests that population does have an impact on whether states would restrict Asian marriage, but in a more complex way than Stephenson proposed. In all states in which Asian-white marriage was restricted by race, so too was African American-white intermarriage; no statutes targeted Asians alone. But in virtually all states restricting African American intermarriage where there was a discernable Asian population – 1/2000th or more – Asian intermarriage was also regulated. The combination of a state’s inclination to segregate, plus a visible Asian population, reliably predicts when Asians would be covered by a statute. This suggests that in the states where racially diverse populations were seen as threats appropriately subject to legal regulation, the nature of the problems presented by the various races was the same.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

American Mestizo: Filipinos and Antimiscegenation Laws in California

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2010-02-21 04:56Z by Steven

American Mestizo: Filipinos and Antimiscegenation Laws in California

University of California, Davis Law Review
Volume 33, Number 44 (2000)
pages 795-835

Leti Volpp, Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley

This essay interprets the legal history of efforts to prohibit intermarriage between Filipino men and white women in the state of California in the 1920s and 30s. I do this through examining both public discourse and legal discourse, in the form of advisory opinions of the California State Attorney General and the Los Angeles County Counsel, litigation in Los Angles Superior Court and the California Court of Appeals, and state legislation.

Much scholarship examines antimiscegenation laws through the lens of presumptive heterosexuality, and gives enormous explanatory power to race in a way that ignores the role of class and gender. This paper argues that we need to examine the mutually constitutive nature of these forces in shaping antimiscegenation laws. Thus, I examine how the racial identity of Filipinos was shaped by assumptions about racialized sexuality, colonial relations between the United States and the Philippines, the importation of exploitable laborers without political rights, and the intertwining of gender and nationalism.

The question of whether Filipinos should be prohibited from marrying white women reached the California Court of Appeals in 1933 in the guise of the query as to whether Filipinos should be considered “Mongolian.” The state in 1880 and 1905 had prohibited the licensing of marriages between “Mongolians” and “white persons” and invalidated all such marriages. Subsequent legal challenges involving the right of Filipinos to marry whites betray enormous confusion as to whether Filipinos should be classified as “Mongolian,” or as a separate ethnological group, as “Malay.” This racial classification was put at issue in cases where Filipino/white couples sought to marry, and who therefore asserted that Filipinos were not “Mongolians”; in a case where a mother sought to stop her daughter’s marriage; in two cases where annulment of marriage was sought, one by a white woman, the other by a Filipino man; and in one case in which a prosecutor sought to void a marriage so a white wife could testify against her Filipino husband.

The positioning of Filipinos as “Mongolian,” or in opposition to “Mongolians” as the ethnologically different “Malay,” provides a narrative within which the contemporary identity of Filipinos is created. This history demonstrates that there is nothing natural or preordained about racial classification, and provides an example of how race is made.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Blood Will Tell: Scientific Racism and the Legal Prohibition Against Miscegenation

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2010-02-21 00:19Z by Steven

Blood Will Tell: Scientific Racism and the Legal Prohibition Against Miscegenation

Michigan Journal of Race & Law
University of Michigan Law School
Volume 5, Issue 2 (Spring 2000)
pages 560-609

Keith Edward Sealing, Dean of Students
Widener Law School, Widener University

Laws banning miscegenation endured in the colonies and the United States for more than 300 years. When the Supreme Court declared all such laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, sixteen such statutes and constitutional provisions were still in effect. Scientific racism determined a hierarchy within the White race that placed the Teutonic at the top, the Anglo-Saxon as the heir to the Teuton, and the American as the current leading branch of that line. Prior to the Darwinian revolution, two competing scientific theories, monogenism and polygenism, were applied to justify miscegenation statutes. The “monogenists” believed that all men descended from a single ancestor and were of the same species. This theory comported with the Bible and the story of Ham, as interpreted literally by the fundamentalists. The “polygenists” saw Blacks as a separate and inferior species descended from a different “Adam,” and, thus, saw slavery as qualitatively no different from the ownership of a horse, and miscegenation as approaching bestiality. These beliefs and attitudes endured well into the Twentieth Century, supported after 1900 by the eugenics movement. This article focuses on anti-miscegenation statutes as applied to former slaves and others of African descent, particularly in the South. This article first examines the miscegenation paradigm in terms of a seven-point conceptual framework that not merely allowed but practically demanded anti-miscegenation laws, then looks at the legal arguments state courts used to justify the constitutionality of such laws through 1967. Next, it analyzes the Biblical argument, which in its own right justified miscegenation, but also had a major influence on the development of the three major strands of scientific racism: monogenism, polygenism and Darwinian theory. It then probes the concept upon which the entire edifice is constructed—race—and discusses the continuing vitality of this construct. Next, this article turns to the major strands of scientific racism and briefly develops more modern theories that continued the racist tradition well into the Twentieth Century. The article then looks at the effects of scientific racism on the thoughts and actions of the founding fathers and the Reconstruction-era Congress before turning to the long line of state cases upholding miscegenation statutes, in part by relying on scientific racism. Finally, it discusses the cases that questioned the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation statutes, Perez v. Lippold and Loving v. Virginia.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Engineering American society: the lesson of eugenics

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-02-08 00:08Z by Steven

Engineering American society: the lesson of eugenics

Nature Reviews Genetics
Volume 1, November 2000
pages 153-158

David Micklos
DNA Learning Centre
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York

Elof Carlson, Professor Emeritus
State University of New York, Stony Brook

We stand at the threshold of a new century, with the whole human genome stretched out before us. Messages from science, the popular media, and the stock market suggest a world of seemingly limitless opportunities to improve human health and productivity. But at the turn of the last century, science and society faced a similar rush to exploit human genetics.  The story of eugenics—humankind’s first venture into a ‘gene age’ — holds a cautionary lesson for our current preoccupation with genes.

Eugenics was the effort to apply the principles of genetics and agricultural breeding towards improving the human race. The term “eugenics”— meaning well born —was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton, a British scientist who used data from biographical dictionaries and alumni records at Oxford and Cambridge Universities to conclude that superior intelligence and abilities were traits that could be inherited.

Most people equate eugenics with atrocities that were committed in Nazi Germany for the sake of racial purity. In this context, eugenics is easy to dismiss as purely aberrant behaviour. However, the story of eugenics in the United States is, perhaps, more important than that of Nazi Germany as a cautionary tale to take with us into our new century.  Here we describe the tale of the subtle ways in which the science of genetics was, by degrees, transformed from an agricultural experiment into a popular movement to engineer American society. The fact that eugenics flourished in the land of liberty, involved numerous prominent scientists and civic leaders, and made its intellectual home at the forerunner of the now prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory shows just how far America fell from grace during this period…

Race mixing. Laws against interracial marriage had existed in some states since colonial times, but their number increased after the Civil War. The idea that race mixing, or miscegenation, causes genetic deterioration was proposed by Joseph Arthur Gobineau and other anthropologists in the late nineteenth century. It is worth noting that eugenicists’ conception of race included the classic divisions by skin colour, as well as differences in national origin.  Most lay-eugenicists subscribed to the Biblical idea of ‘like with like’ and that the ‘half-breed’ offspring of parents from two different races were genetically inferior to the parental stock. Davenport’s compilation in 1913 showed that 29 states had laws forbidding mixed-race marriages.  Although these laws were not always enforced, heavy fines and long prison terms showed how seriously American society considered miscegenation to be at that time.

As in the case of immigration restriction, eugenicists were more than willing to provide a supposed scientific rationale for existing
racial prejudice. In his influential book, The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant warned that racial mixing was a social crime that would lead to the demise of white civilization. Eugenicists actively supported strengthening pre-existing laws and enacting of new ones, including the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The Virginia Act and all other similar state laws were struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving versus Commonwealth of Virginia

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,