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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The Color of Whiteness

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-17 00:40Z by Steven

The Color of Whiteness

The Color of Whiteness
2017-03-16

Christopher Petrella, Lecturer in the Humanities and the Associate Director of Equity and Diversity
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

Josh Begley, Data artist & App developer


Josh Begley

Who is white? Who is not? How has that changed throughout U.S. history? Legally speaking, how have some people gone from white to non-white and back again?…

Read the entire photo-essay here.

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After Trump

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-16 20:04Z by Steven

After Trump

Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum
2016-11-22

Christopher Petrella, Lecturer in the Humanities and the Associate Director of Equity and Diversity
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

In November 2015 Donald Trump was asked on the campaign trail if he would require Muslim U.S. citizens to register with the Department of Homeland Security. “Absolutely,” Trump said, “they have to be.” Trump and his team had been mum on the issue until last week when a number of prominent surrogates and advisers—including incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s immigration adviser Kris Kobach—mused, seemingly as a test balloon, that the administration is “not going to rule out anything” and that a registry of Muslims entering the country would pass constitutional muster. One member of Trump’s team went as far as citing the 1942–45 internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “precedent.” (Both statements were hedged with qualifications that made them no less worrisome.)

Since then, many commentators have roundly condemned the idea of a Muslim registry—not to mention citing the internment of Japanese-Americans as a precedent for anything except that which we must avoid repeating. Few have offered deeper historical examinations , though, that would suggest that the registration of Japanese-Americans and their subsequent movement to concentration camps were not really aberrations in American history. On the contrary, racial and ethnic registries and immigration quota systems have long been integral to America’s approach to regulating the freedom, movement, and rights of non-whites. Two pieces of legislation passed in the same year nearly a century ago—one federal, one in the state of Virginia—reflect the recurrent appeal in the United States of laws aimed at protecting the racial purity of whatever is indexed in a given moment as best representing American nationalism…

…In the same year as the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed its Racial Integrity Act, originally drafted as “A Bill for the Preservation of the White Race.” The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 explicitly forbade miscegenation—that is, “race mixing through marriage and fornication”—on the basis that such practices would “pollute [the nation] with mixed-blood offspring.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Novels, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-06 23:03Z by Steven

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

Chronicle Books
2017-01-31
260 pages
7-1/4 x 10 in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781452125909

Patricia Hruby Powell

Illustrated by Shadra Strickland

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

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What if the Court in the Loving Case Had Declared Race a False Idea?

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-06 19:17Z by Steven

What if the Court in the Loving Case Had Declared Race a False Idea?

The New York Times
2017-03-06

Brent Staples


Mildred Loving greeting her husband Richard on their front porch in Virginia.
Credit Estate of Grey Villet

Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia struck a resonant historical note last year when he proclaimed June 12 “Loving Day,” in commemoration of Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws across the country that restricted interracial marriage.

That Virginia would celebrate the decision was symbolically rich, given that Richmond had been the capital of the Confederacy under Jefferson Davis and the seat of a virulently racist legislature that diligently translated white supremacist aspirations into law.

The Loving decision turns 50 this summer, which will give the annual festivals, picnics and house parties held in its honor a special gravity. But the recent re-emergence of white supremacist ideology in political discourse lends an inescapably political cast to this celebration of interracialism.

As this drama unfolds, historians and legal scholars are criticizing aspects of the Loving decision, including the court’s failure to repudiate the myth of white racial “purity” upon which Virginia’s statute was based…

Read the entire article here.

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For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-03-05 21:59Z by Steven

For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings.

The Washington Post
2017-02-19

Krissah Thompson


By excavating and restoring areas where the slave community lived and worked, Monticello is trying to more fully integrate their stories at the historic plantation. A special focus will be placed on Sally Hemings, whose room in the house will soon be on display for the first time.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom.

The floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him. Their involvement was a scandal during his life and was denied for decades by his descendants. But many historians now believe the third president of the United States was the father of her six children.

Time, and perhaps shame, erased all physical evidence of her presence at Jefferson’s home here, a building so famous that it is depicted on the back of the nickel.

Now the floor tiles have been pulled up and the room is under restoration — and Hemings’s life is poised to become a larger part of the story told at Monticello…

Read the entire article here.

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LC lecturer looks back on landmark court case on mixed-race marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-23 23:30Z by Steven

LC lecturer looks back on landmark court case on mixed-race marriage

The News & Advance
Lynchburg, Virginia
2017-02-22

Josh Moody

Today Americans enjoy the Constitutional right to marry regardless of race — but it wasn’t always so, and landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia can be thanked for breaking down that barrier.

The famous court case was settled in June of 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and struck down prohibitions against mixed-race marriages. To celebrate that anniversary, Lynchburg College brought in Peter Wallenstein, a Virginia Tech history professor and researcher who has written three books about the court case, among others.

The case involved Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a pregnant, mixed-race woman, who married one another in June of 1958 despite Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. The couple actually married in Washington, D.C., in the hope of avoiding a violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, but were charged for crossing state lines to marry when they returned to Clear [Central] Point, Virginia…

Read the entire article here.

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Before Loving, there was Kinney in Augusta County

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-23 16:20Z by Steven

Before Loving, there was Kinney in Augusta County

The News Leader
Staunton, Virginia
2017-01-08

Dale M. Brumfield, Special to The News Leader

“By the laws of Virginia (C. V. 1873, ch. 105, § 1), all marriages between a white person and a negro are absolutely void…”

—Kinney v. Commonwealth, Oct. 3, 1878, Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

In 1967 Caroline County couple Richard Perry Loving and Mildred Jeter successfully overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages, and the newly released movie “Loving” chronicles their sometimes harrowing experiences. Eighty-seven years earlier, however, a courageous Augusta County couple also went to court to force change to Virginia law prohibiting marriages between blacks and whites, but with far less success than the Lovings.

According to the 1878 Virginia Court of Appeals case Kinney v. Commonwealth, Andrew Kinney was a blacksmith who fell in love with Mahala Miller around 1866. The fact that Kinney was black and Miller white made their relationship illegal in Virginia but irrelevant to them. They thumbed their noses at the law and boldly moved in together as husband and wife near Churchville. The following year Mahala gave birth to their first son, William, and two years later gave birth to another son, James.

Just as Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1958 to marry, so did Andrew and Mahala on Nov. 4, 1874, when mixed-race marriages became legal there. After a 10-day honeymoon, they returned to Churchville and had four more boys — John in 1874, Alonzo (who died shortly after birth) in 1875, Tom in 1876 and Harrison in 1877…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Loving’ and Virginia: a timeline of mixed-race marriage

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-22 02:40Z by Steven

‘Loving’ and Virginia: a timeline of mixed-race marriage

The Richmond Times-Dispatch
2017-02-19

The movie “Loving” tells the story of a mixed-race Caroline County couple – and an important story about Virginia itself. We asked the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for some insight into Richard and Mildred Loving, as well as state history. Here is a timeline from the foundation’s Encyclopedia Virginia.

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April 3, 1691: The General Assembly passes “An act for suppressing outlying slaves,” which grants county sheriffs, their deputies and any other “lawfull authority” the ability to kill any slaves resisting, running away or refusing to surrender when so ordered. The act seeks to prevent “abominable mixture and spurious issue” by prohibiting mixed-race marriages.

October 1705: The assembly passes “An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves,” which summarizes previous laws defining bound labor in Virginia. It makes distinctions between the treatment of white “christian” indentured servants and nonwhite, non-Christians, allowing for the killing of slaves in various situations without penalty.

1848: The assembly increases the penalty for the white partner in an interracial marriage from six months to a maximum of 12 months in prison…

Read the entire article here.

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The True Story of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Virginia on 2017-02-19 01:12Z by Steven

The True Story of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality

Indian Country Media Network
2017-02-16

Vincent Schilling


AP Images
A portrait of Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith with Father Wahunsenaca. Oral history from the descendants of Pocahontas dictate such a thing could never have happened.

Pocahontas had a Native Husband and Native Child; Never Married John Smith

Despite what many people believe due to longstanding and inaccurate accounts in history books and movies such as Disney’s Pocahontas, the true story of Pocahontas is not one of a young Native Powhatan woman with a raccoon friend who dove off of mountain-like cliffs off the coasts of Virginia. (Note: there are no cliffs on the coast of Virginia.)

The true story of Pocahontas is a tale of tragedy and heartbreak.

It is time to bust up the misconceptions perpetuated over 400 years regarding the young daughter of Powhatan chief Wahunsenaca. The truth—gathered from years of extensive research of the historical record, books, and oral histories from self-identified descendants of Pocahontas and tribal peoples of Virginia —is not for the faint of heart…

Read the entire article here.

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