The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts by Amber D. Moulton (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 22:36Z by Steven

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts by Amber D. Moulton (review)

Journal of the Early Republic
Volume 37, Number 1, Spring 2017
pages 183-185
DOI: 10.1353/jer.2017.0015

Terri L. Snyder, Professor of American Studies
California State University, Fullerton

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts. By Amber D. Moulton. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. Pp. 288. Cloth, $45.00.)

In this sharply focused study, Amber D. Moulton examines the battle to overturn the Massachusetts statute banning interracial marriage, originally enacted in 1705 and repealed in 1843, and offers a penetrating analysis of early arguments over the right to marry. Each chapter critically foregrounds existing studies of miscegenation law, and the epilogue usefully links the legal histories of interracial and same-sex marriage. Long before Loving v. Virginia (1967) or Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), some antebellum activists in Massachusetts argued that marriage was a constitutional right and an essential element of social and political equality. The claim of equal rights alone did not carry the day, however. As Moulton demonstrates, the most persuasive arguments against the law were rooted in appeals to moral reform rather than in demands for racial civil rights.

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights is a skillful blend of legal history and lived experience. In her first chapter, Moulton offers a history of the ban and analyzes its consequences for interracial families. Colonial Massachusetts, following the lead of the slave societies of the Caribbean and the Chesapeake, banned interracial marriage in 1705. The statute was expanded in scope and severity in 1786 and remained in place until 1843, when it was overturned. Despite the legal prohibition against interracial unions, women and men of different races continued to marry in Massachusetts. The legal ban was clear-cut in theory, but interracial couples pursued varying strategies in their marriage practices. Some couples gained the protection of legal marriage when they wed outside of Massachusetts and returned to the colony or state as husband and wife. If partners could not be legally married, they established informal unions and protected children through carefully delineated inheritance strategies. Others shunned the law altogether. However, once an informally married interracial couple came to the attention of the courts—particularly when they or their children petitioned for support—their union could be voided and their children declared illegitimate. Class was a clear factor: The poorest couples were more at risk for having their claims to wedlock invalidated. Moreover, the official ban on interracial marriages sometimes existed in opposition to local culture. At least some interracial couples who attained middling status appear to have been accepted in their neighborhoods.

Subsequent chapters investigate the range of advocates who fought against the ban on interracial marriage. In some of the more fascinating examples in her study, Moulton investigates and highlights the transmission of activist aims in African American families. In 1837, for instance, African American activists made the right to interracial marriage a plank on their antislavery platform; some of these activists were either spouses in or children born to interracial unions. The study is also strong in its analysis of gender. Regardless of race, women activists who opposed the ban were charged with indecency. Some opponents claimed that political petitioning in support of interracial marriage—and the racial mixing it implied—was anathema to white femininity. However, some women activists countered that interracial marriage protected women. Marriage, they argued, was a bulwark against licentiousness (which could lead to promiscuity and prostitution), provided the security of patriarchal family structure, and offered official legitimacy for children of these unions as well.

Rather than claims of equal rights, then, the most persuasive arguments in overturning interracial marriage prohibitions in Massachusetts were rooted in the values of traditional marriage and gender roles, patriarchal ideologies and feminine duty, and the importance of Christian morality. At the same time, unforeseen events, such as the Latimer case, which aroused indignation over southern demands that Boston’s officials hunt fugitive slaves, galvanized public opinion in favor of overturning the law. Ultimately, prohibiting interracial marriage was viewed as immoral, unconstitutional, and unjust, as well as a uniquely southern encroachment on individual freedom from which northerners wanted to distance themselves. Despite its innovation, however, Massachusetts did not become a model for the nation: Twenty years after that state legalized interracial marriage, over…

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How U.S. Law Inspired the Nazis

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 20:13Z by Steven

How U.S. Law Inspired the Nazis

The Chronicle Review
The Chronicle of Higher Education
2017-03-19

Marc Parry, Senior Reporter


Asian immigrants in the late 1920s await processing in an internment center in San Francisco. AP Images

It started with Mein Kampf. James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale University, was researching a legal-history question when he pulled Adolf Hitler’s mid-1920s manifesto from the shelf. What jumped out at Whitman was the admiration that Hitler expressed for the United States, a nation that the future Führer lauded as “the one state” that had made progress toward establishing a healthy racial order. Digging deeper, Whitman discovered a neglected story about how the Nazis took inspiration from U.S. racial policies during the making of Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, the anti-Jewish legislation enacted in 1935. That history is the focus of Whitman’s new book, Hitler’s American Model (Princeton University Press). The interview that follows has been edited and condensed…

You also write that some Nazis felt that the American legal example went too far. The Nazis were very interested in the way Americans classified members of the different races, defining who counted as black or Asian or whatever it might be. And there, in particular, the most far-reaching Nazi definition of who counted as a Jew was less than what you found in almost any American state. The most far-reaching Nazi definition, which dates to 1933, held that a Jew was anybody who had one Jewish grandparent. There were a few American states that made the same provision with regard to blacks. But most of them went much further than that. At the extreme, American states had what’s called the one-drop rule. That is, one drop of black blood makes you black…

Read the entire interview here.

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Why the Nazis Loved America

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 01:14Z by Steven

Why the Nazis Loved America

TIME
2017-03-21

James Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School


American Nazis parade on East 86th St. in New York City around 1939. Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images

Whitman is the author most recently of Hitler’s American Model.

To say America today is verging on Nazism feels like scaremongering. Yes, white nationalism lives in the White House. Yes, President Donald Trump leans authoritarian. Yes, the alt-right says many ugly things. But for all the economic pains of many Americans, there is no Great Depression gnawing away at democracy’s foundations. No paramilitary force is killing people in the streets. Fascism and Nazism have not arrived in the United States.

But there is a different and instructive story to be told about America and the Nazis that raises unsettling questions about what is going on today — and what Nazism means to the U.S.

When we picture a modern American Nazi, we imagine a fanatic who has imported an alien belief system from a far-away place. We also, not wrongly, picture captives in concentration camps and American soldiers fighting the Good War. But the past is more tangled than that. Nazism was a movement drawn in some ways on the American model — a prodigal son of the land of liberty and equality, without the remorse…

Read the entire article here.

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Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Posted in Books, Chapter, History, Law, United Kingdom, United States on 2017-03-24 19:00Z by Steven

Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Chapter in The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies
Online ISBN: 9781118663219
Published Online: 2016-04-21
5 pages
DOI: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss617

Sally L. Kitch, Regents’ Professor, Women and Gender Studies
Arizona State University

Anti-miscegenation (racial mixing) laws have been enacted around the world throughout history. In mainland British colonies and the United States such laws regulated marriages between persons of different races, primarily between blacks and whites, from 1634 to 1967, when the Supreme Court declared them an unconstitutional mechanism for maintaining white supremacy in Loving v. Virginia. That decision exposed the faulty legal reasoning that exempted interracial marriages from the usual protections provided to marriage and citizenship on the grounds that miscegenation was illicit. British New World island colonies did not enact anti-miscegenation laws, but they did regulate the rights of mixed-race progeny. Often overlooked in discussions of these and other anti-miscegenation laws and policies are their inherent gender biases and their protection of white male prerogatives as a keystone of the doctrine of white supremacy.

Read or purchase the chapter here.

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Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-03-24 15:27Z by Steven

Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Variety
2017-03-21

Nick Vivarelli, International Correspondent


Courtesy Istituto Luce

ROME – As Europe’s neo-fascists re-emerge and right-wing populism sweeps through the West, a documentary about a black Italian boxer who discredited Benito Mussolini’s racist ideology by winning a European boxing title is making a splash in Italy and abroad.

“The Duce’s Boxer” tells the story of Leone Jacovacci, an African Italian born in the Congo who won the 1928 European middleweight title by beating Mario Bosisio a white Italian boxer favored by the country’s Fascist leaders, in front of 40,000 fans in Rome’s National Stadium.

An infuriated Mussolini then ordered Jacovacci and his achievement erased from Italy’s history books. But 89 years later, Jacovacci’s story has resurfaced, with “The Duce’s Boxer” premiering Tuesday in 25 Italian cities to mark the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Based on the book “Black Roman” by Italian sociologist Mauro Valeri, a former head of the country’s National Xenophobia Observatory, “The Duce’s Boxer” is directed by first-timer Tony Saccucci

Read the entire article here.

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Sorry, but the Irish were always ‘white’ (and so were Italians, Jews and so on)

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-24 01:22Z by Steven

Sorry, but the Irish were always ‘white’ (and so were Italians, Jews and so on)

The Washington Post
2017-03-22

David Bernstein, George Mason University Foundation Professor
George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, Virginia


Immigrants after their arrival in Ellis Island by ship in 1902. (Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)

Whiteness studies” is all the rage these days. My friends who teach U.S. history have told me that this perspective has “completely taken over” studies of American ethnic history. I can’t vouch for that, but I do know that I constantly see people assert, as a matter of “fact,” that Irish, Italian, Jewish and other “ethnic” white American were not considered to be “white” until sometime in the mid-to-late 20th century, vouching for the fact that this understanding of American history has spread widely.

The relevant scholarly literature seems to have started with Noel Ignatiev’s book “How the Irish Became White,” and taken off from there. But what the relevant authors mean by white is ahistorical. They are referring to a stylized, sociological or anthropological understanding of “whiteness,” which means either “fully socially accepted as the equals of Americans of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic stock,” or, in the more politicized version, “an accepted part of the dominant ruling class in the United States.”

Those may be interesting sociological and anthropological angles to pursue, but it has nothing to do with whether the relevant groups were considered to be white…

Read the entire article here.

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The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-21 01:37Z by Steven

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Louisiana State University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
no illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807165218

Hank Trent

Historians have long discussed the interracial families of prominent slave dealers in Richmond, Virginia, and elsewhere, yet, until now, the story of slave trader Bacon Tait remained untold. Among the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Richmond, Bacon Tait embarked upon a striking and unexpected double life: that of a white slave trader married to a free black woman. In The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, Hank Trent tells Tait’s complete story for the first time, reconstructing the hidden aspects of his strange and often paradoxical life through meticulous research in lawsuits, newspapers, deeds, and other original records.

Active and ambitious in a career notorious even among slave owners for its viciousness, Bacon Tait nevertheless claimed to be married to a free woman of color, Courtney Fountain, whose extended family were involved in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. As Trent reveals, Bacon Tait maintained his domestic sphere as a loving husband and father in a mixed-race family in the North while running a successful and ruthless slave-trading business in the South. Though he possessed legal control over thousands of other black women at different times, Trent argues that Tait remained loyal to his wife, avoiding the predatory sexual practices of many slave traders. No less remarkably, Courtney Tait and their four children received the benefits of Tait’s wealth while remaining close to her family of origin, many of whom spoke out against the practice of slavery and even fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union.

In a fascinating display of historical detective work, Trent illuminates the worlds Bacon Tait and his family inhabited, from the complex partnerships and rivalries among slave traders to the anxieties surrounding free black populations in Courtney and Bacon Tait’s adopted city of Salem, Massachusetts. Tait’s double life illuminates the complex interplay of control, manipulation, love, hate, denigration, and respect among interracial families, all within the larger context of a society that revolved around the enslavement of black Americans by white traders.

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Thomas and Sally

Posted in Arts, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Slavery, United States on 2017-03-21 00:40Z by Steven

Thomas and Sally

Marin Theater Company
Mill Valley, California
September 28-October 22 (2017) | World Premiere

By Thomas Bradshaw


Thomas Bradshaw

An explosive world-premiere commission by subversive American playwright Thomas Bradshaw, Thomas and Sally gets up close and personal with our country’s first prominent mixed-race family: Thomas Jefferson and his African American slave, Sally Hemings. In this satiric comedy, Bradshaw takes us behind the scenes of history and into the home (and bed) of Jefferson: Enlightenment-era genius, devoted husband, and man of contradictions, who insisted that the phrase “All men are created equal” be included in the Declaration of Independence but did not free his own slaves, even at his death. Sex, power and identity are all up for negotiation in this provocative, no-frills vision of early America…until, of course, they’re not. Thomas and Sally takes a sharp look at how the nation’s beginnings continue to influence what it’s become.

For more information, click here.

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Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2017-03-19 22:55Z by Steven

Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy

University of Nebraska Press
2017-08-01
252 pages
5 illustrations, index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8032-2543-5

Katherine Ellinghaus, Hansen Lectureship in History
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
University of Melbourne

Blood Will Tell reveals the underlying centrality of “blood” that shaped official ideas about who was eligible to be defined as Indian by the General Allotment Act in the United States. Katherine Ellinghaus traces the idea of blood quantum and how the concept came to dominate Native identity and national status between 1887 and 1934 and how related exclusionary policies functioned to dispossess Native people of their land. The U.S. government’s unspoken assumption at the time was that Natives of mixed descent were undeserving of tribal status and benefits, notwithstanding that Native Americans of mixed descent played crucial roles in the national implementation of allotment policy.

Ellinghaus explores on-the-ground case studies of Anishinaabeg, Arapahos, Cherokees, Eastern Cherokees, Cheyennes, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, Lakotas, Lumbees, Ojibwes, Seminoles, and Virginia tribes. Documented in these cases, the history of blood quantum as a policy reveals assimilation’s implications and legacy. The role of blood quantum is integral to understanding how Native Americans came to be one of the most disadvantaged groups in the United States, and it remains a significant part of present-day debates about Indian identity and tribal membership. Blood Will Tell is an important and timely contribution to current political and scholarly debates.

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Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-19 21:35Z by Steven

Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina

Explorations in Economic History
Volume 50, Issue 1, January 2013
pages 148–159
DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.06.002

Tiffany L. Green, Assistant Professor
Department of Healthcare Policy and Research
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Tod G. Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

A growing empirical literature in economics and sociology documents the existence of more favorable social and economic outcomes among mixed-race blacks compared to non-mixed race blacks. However, few researchers consider whether the advantages associated with mixed-race status extend to mortality. To address this gap in the literature, we employ unique data from the 1880 North Carolina Mortality Census records in conjunction with data from 1880 U.S. Census of Population for North Carolina to examine whether mulatto (mixed-race) blacks experienced mortality advantages over to their colored (non-mixed race) counterparts from June 1879 to May 1880. For men between the ages of 20 and 44, estimates demonstrate that all black males, both mulatto and colored, were more likely than whites to die during the survey period. Although our results indicate that there is no statistically significant difference in mortality between mulatto and colored black men, we find a substantial mortality advantage associated with mixed-race status among women.

Read or purchase the article here.

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