Louisiana laws on inter-racial marriage

Jacqueline Battalora [16] argues that the first laws banning all marriage between whites and blacks, enacted in Virginia and Maryland, were a response by the planter elite to the problems they were facing due to the socio-economic dynamics of the plantation system in the Southern colonies. The bans in Virginia and Maryland were established at a time when slavery was not yet fully institutionalized. At the time, most forced laborers on the plantations were indentured servants, and they were mostly European.

Some historians have suggested that the at-the-time unprecedented laws banning "interracial" marriage were originally invented by planters as a divide-and-rule tactic after the uprising of European and African indentured servants in cases such as Bacon's Rebellion.

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According to this theory, the ban on interracial marriage was issued to split up the ethnically mixed, increasingly "mixed-race" labor force into "whites," who were given their freedom, and "blacks," who were later treated as slaves rather than as indentured servants. By outlawing "interracial" marriage, it became possible to keep these two new groups separated and prevent a new rebellion. In , seven out of the Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence enforced laws against interracial marriage. Although slavery was gradually abolished in the North after independence, this at first had little impact on the enforcement of anti-miscegenation laws.

An exception was Pennsylvania , which repealed its anti-miscegenation law in , together with some of the other restrictions placed on free blacks, when it enacted a bill for the gradual abolition of slavery in the state. The Quaker planter and slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. These views were tolerated in Spanish Florida , where free people of color had rights and could own and inherit property.

After Florida became a U. For the radical abolitionists who organized to oppose slavery in the s, laws banning interracial marriage embodied the same racial prejudice that they saw at the root of slavery. Abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison took aim at Massachusetts' legal ban on interracial marriage as early as Anti-abolitionists defended the measure as necessary to prevent racial amalgamation and to maintain the Bay State's proper racial and moral order. Abolitionists, however, objected that the law, because it "distinguished between 'citizens on account of complexion,'" violated the broad egalitarian tenets of Christianity and republicanism as well as the state constitution's promise of equality.

Beginning in the late s, abolitionists began a several-year petition campaign that prompted the legislature to repeal the measure in Their efforts—both tactically and intellectually—constituted a foundational moment in the era's burgeoning minority-rights politics, which would continue to expand into the twentieth century.

As the US expanded, however, all the new slave states as well as many new free states such as Illinois [19] and California [20] enacted such laws. Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama legalized interracial marriage for some years during the Reconstruction period.

Anti-miscegenation laws rested unenforced, were overturned by courts or repealed by the state government in Arkansas [21] and Louisiana [22]. However, after white Democrats took power in the South during " Redemption ", anti-miscegenation laws were re-enacted and once more enforced, and in addition Jim Crow laws were enacted in the South which also enforced other forms of racial segregation.

A number of northern and western states permanently repealed their anti-miscegenation laws during the 19th century. This, however, did little to halt anti-miscegenation sentiments in the rest of the country.

Justice Says Law Wasn't Broken

Newly established western states continued to enact laws banning interracial marriage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Between and , 30 out of the then 48 states enforced anti-miscegenation laws. At least three proposed constitutional amendments intended to bar interracial marriage in the United States were introduced in Congress. In , Representative Andrew King Democrat of Missouri was the first politician in Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to make interracial marriage illegal nationwide.

King proposed this amendment because he predicted correctly, as the case of Loving v. Virginia later demonstrated that the Fourteenth Amendment , ratified in to give equal civil rights to the emancipated ex-slaves the Freedmen as part of the process of Reconstruction , would render laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. In December and January , Representative Seaborn Roddenbery Democrat of Georgia again introduced a proposal in the House of Representatives to insert a prohibition of miscegenation into the US Constitution and thus create a nationwide ban on interracial marriage.

According to the wording of the proposed amendment, "Intermarriage between negros or persons of color and Caucasians In his proposed amendment, anyone with "any trace of African or Negro blood" was banned from marrying a white spouse. Roddenbery's proposed amendment was also a direct reaction to African American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson 's marriages to white women, first to Etta Duryea and then to Lucille Cameron.

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The Urban-Rural Divide in Interracial Marriage

In , Johnson had become the first black boxing world champion, having beaten Tommy Burns. After his victory, the search was on for a white boxer, a "Great White Hope", to beat Johnson. Those hopes were dashed in , when Johnson beat former world champion Jim Jeffries. This victory ignited race riots all over America as frustrated whites attacked celebrating African Americans. In his speech introducing his bill before the United States Congress , Roddenbery compared the marriage of Johnson and Cameron to the enslavement of white women, and warned of future civil war that would ensue if interracial marriage was not made illegal nationwide:.

No brutality, no infamy, no degradation in all the years of southern slavery, possessed such villainous character and such atrocious qualities as the provision of the laws of Illinois, Massachusetts, and other states which allow the marriage of the negro, Jack Johnson, to a woman of Caucasian strain. Gentleman, I offer this resolution Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant to the very principles of Saxon government. It is subversive of social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery of white women to black beasts will bring this nation a conflict as fatal as ever reddened the soil of Virginia or crimsoned the mountain paths of Pennsylvania.

Let us uproot and exterminate now this debasing, ultra-demoralizing, un-American and inhuman leprosy. Spurred on by Roddenbery's introduction of the anti-miscegenation amendment, politicians in many of the 19 states lacking anti-miscegenation laws proposed their enactment. In , the Commonwealth of Massachusetts , which had abolished its anti-miscegenation law in , enacted a measure not repealed until [27] that prevented couples who could not marry in their home state from marrying in Massachusetts.

In , Senator Coleman Blease Democrat of South Carolina proposed an amendment that went beyond the previous ones, requiring that Congress set a punishment for interracial couples attempting to get married and for people officiating an interracial marriage. This amendment was also never enacted. The constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws was upheld by the U. Supreme Court in the case Pace v.

Code Noir of Louisiana

Alabama U. According to the court, both races were treated equally, because whites and blacks were punished in equal measure for breaking the law against interracial marriage and interracial sex. This judgment was overturned in in the Loving v. Virginia case, where the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren declared anti-miscegenation laws a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore unconstitutional.

The constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws only began to be widely called into question after World War II. In , the California Supreme Court in Perez v. Sharp ruled that the Californian anti-miscegenation statute violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and was therefore unconstitutional.

This was the first time since Reconstruction that a state court declared an anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional, and California was the first state since Ohio in to repeal its anti-miscegenation law. As a result, during the s, anti-miscegenation laws were repealed or overturned in state after state, except in the South. Nonetheless, in the s, the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws was still a controversial issue in the U.

In , the political theorist Hannah Arendt , a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, [29] who escaped from Europe during the Holocaust , wrote in an essay in response to the Little Rock Crisis , the Civil Rights struggle for the racial integration of public schools which took place in Little Rock, Arkansas in , that anti-miscegenation laws were an even deeper injustice than the racial segregation of public schools.

The free choice of a spouse, she argued in Reflections on Little Rock , was "an elementary human right": "Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence ; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs. Commenting on the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka against de jure racial segregation in education, Arendt argued that anti-miscegenation laws were more basic to racial segregation than racial segregation in education.

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Arendt's analysis of the centrality of laws against interracial marriage to white supremacy echoed the conclusions of Gunnar Myrdal. In his essay Social Trends in America and Strategic Approaches to the Negro Problem , Myrdal ranked the social areas where restrictions were imposed by Southern whites on the freedom of African-Americans through racial segregation from the least to the most important: jobs, courts and police, politics, basic public facilities, "social equality" including dancing and handshaking, and most importantly, marriage.

This ranking was indeed reflective of the way in which the barriers against desegregation fell under the pressure of the protests of the emerging Civil Rights Movement. First, legal segregation in the army, in education and in basic public services fell, then restrictions on the voting rights of African-Americans were lifted. These victories were ensured by the Civil Rights Act of But the bans on interracial marriage were the last to go, in Most white Americans in the s were opposed to interracial marriage and did not see laws banning interracial marriage as an affront to the principles of American democracy.

A Gallup poll showed that 94 percent of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage.

Mixed Race Studies » Louisiana

By the s, civil rights organizations were helping interracial couples who were being penalized for their relationships to take their cases to the Supreme Court. Since Pace v.


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Alabama , the court had declined to make a judgment in such cases. But in , the Warren Court decided to issue a ruling in the case of an interracial couple from Florida who had been convicted because they had cohabited. In McLaughlin v. Florida , the Supreme Court ruled that the Florida state law which prohibited cohabitation between whites and non-whites was unconstitutional and based solely on a policy of racial discrimination. However, the court did not rule on Florida's ban on marriage between whites and non-whites, despite the appeal of the plaintiffs to do so and the argument made by the state of Florida that its ban on cohabitation between whites and blacks was ancillary to its ban on marriage between whites and blacks.

However, in , the court did decide to rule on the remaining anti-miscegenation laws when it was presented with the case of Loving v.