Beginnings of Miscegenation of Whites and Blacks

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2013-04-04 20:58Z by Steven

Beginnings of Miscegenation of Whites and Blacks

The Journal of Negro History
Volume 3, Number 4 (October 1918)
pages 336-453

Carter G. Woodson, Founder

Although science has uprooted the theory, a number of writers are loath to give up the contention that the white race is superior to others, as it is still hoped that the Caucasian race may be preserved in its purity, especially so far as it means miscegenation with the blacks. But there are others who express doubt that the integrity of the dominant race has been maintained.[442] Scholars have for centuries differed as to the composition of the mixed breed stock constituting the Mediterranean race and especially about that in Egypt and the Barbary States. In that part of the dark continent many inhabitants have certain characteristics which are more Caucasian than negroid and have achieved more than investigators have been willing to consider the civilization of the Negro. It is clear, however, that although the people of northern Africa cannot be classed as Negroes, being bounded on the south by the masses of African blacks, they have so generally mixed their blood with that of the blacks that in many parts they are no nearer to any white stock than the Negroes of the United States.

This miscegenation, to be sure, increased toward the[Pg 336] south into central Africa, but it has extended also to the north and east into Asia and Europe. Traces of Negro blood have been found in the Malay States, India and Polynesia. In the Arabian Peninsula it has been so extensive as to constitute a large group there called the Arabised Negroes. But most significant of all has been the invasion of Europe by persons of African blood. Professor Sergi leads one to conclude that the ancient Pelasgii were of African origin or probably the descendants of the race which settled northern Africa and southern Europe, and are therefore due credit for the achievements of the early Greek and Italian civilizations.[443]

There is much evidence of a further extension of this infusion in the Mediterranean world.

“Recent discoveries made in the vicinity of the principality of Monaco and others in Italy and western France,” says MacDonald, “would seem to reveal … the actual fact that many thousand years ago a negroid race had penetrated through Italy into France, leaving traces at the present day in the physiognomy of the peoples of southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and western France, and even in the western parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. There are even at the present day some examples of the Keltiberian peoples of western Scotland, southern and western Wales, southern and western Ireland, of distinctly negroid aspect, and in whose ancestry there is no indication whatever of any connection with the West Indies or with Modern Africa. Still more marked is this feature in the peoples of southern and western France and of the other parts of the Mediterranean already mentioned.”[444]

Because of the temperament of the Portugese this infusion of African blood was still more striking in their country. As the Portugese are a good-natured people void of race hate they did not dread the miscegenation of the races. One finds in southern Portugal a “strong Moorish, North African element” and also an “old intermixture with those[Pg 337] Negroes who were imported thither from Northwest Africa to till the scantily populated southern provinces.”[445] This miscegenation among the Portugese easily extended to the New World. Then followed the story of the Caramarii, the descendants of the Portugese, who after being shipwrecked near Bahia arose to prominence among the Tupinambo Indians and produced a clan of half-castes by taking to himself numerous native women.[446] This admixture served as a stepping stone to the assimilation of the Negroes when they came…

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To the whites, all Africans who were not of pure blood were gens de couleur…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-12-20 03:58Z by Steven

To the whites, all Africans who were not of pure blood were gens de couleur [people of color]. Among themselves, however, there were jealous and fiercely-guarded distinctions: “griffes, briques, mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, each term meaning one degree’s further transfiguration toward the Caucasian standard of physical perfection.”1

Alice Dunbar-Nelson, “People of Color in Lousiana: Part I,” The Journal of Negro History, Volume 1, Number 4 (October 1916): 361.

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People of Color in Lousiana: Part I

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Slavery, United States on 2011-12-19 17:54Z by Steven

People of Color in Lousiana: Part I

The Journal of Negro History
Volume 1, Noumber 4 (October, 1916)
pages 361-376

Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875-1935)



The title of a possible discussion of the Negro in Louisiana presents difficulties, for there is no such word as Negro permissible in speaking of this State. The history of the State is filled with attempts to define, sometimes at the point of the sword, oftenest in civil or criminal courts, the meaning of the word Negro. By common consent, it came to mean in Louisiana, prior to 1865, slave, and after the war, those whose complexions were noticeably dark. As Grace King so delightfully puts it, “The pure-blooded African was never called colored, but always Negro.” The gens de couleur, colored people, were always a class apart, separated from and superior to the Negroes, ennobled were it only by one drop of white blood in their veins. The caste seems to have existed from the first introduction of slaves. To the whites, all Africans who were not of pure blood were gens de couleur. Among themselves, however, there were jealous and fiercely-guarded distinctions: “griffes, briques, mulattoes, quadroons, octoroons, each term meaning one degree’s further transfiguration toward the Caucasian standard of physical perfection.”

Negro slavery in Louisiana seems to have been early influenced by the policy of the Spanish colonies. De las Casas, an apostle to the Indians, exclaimed against the slavery of the Indians and finding his efforts of no avail proposed to Charles V in 1517 the slavery of the Africans as a substitute.  The Spaniards refused at first to import slaves from Africa, but later agreed to the proposition and employed other nations to traffic in them. Louisiana learned from the Spanish colonies her lessons of this traffic, took over certain parts of the slave regulations and imported bondmen from the Spanish West Indies. Others brought thither were Congo, Banbara, Yaloff, and Mandingo slaves.

People of color were introduced into Louisiana early in the eighteenth century. In 1708, according to the historian, Gayarré, the little colony of Louisiana, at the point on the Gulf of Mexico now known as Biloxi, in the present State of Mississippi, had been in existence nine years. In 1708, the population of the colony did not exceed 279 persons. The land about this region is particularly sterile, and the colonists were little disposed to undertake the laborious task of tilling the soil. Indian slavery was attempted but found unprofitable and exceedingly precarious. So Bienville, lacking the sympathy of De las Casas for the Indians, wrote his government to obtain the authorization of exchanging Negroes for Indians with the French West Indian islands. “We shall give,” he said, “three Indians for two Negroes. The Indians, when in the islands, will not be able to run away, the country being unknown to them, and the Negroes will not dare to become fugitives in Louisiana, because the Indians would kill them.”…

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Negro History, Part X: Miscegenation in America

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2011-05-15 01:53Z by Steven

Negro History, Part X: Miscegenation in America

Ebony Magazine
October 1962
pages 94-104
(Digitized by Google)

Lerone Bennett, Jr., Executive Editor

The material in this chapter on miscegenation during the slavery period is based largely on James Hugo Johnston’s doctorial dissertation at the University of Chicago, Race Relations in Virginia and Miscegenation in the South, 1776-1860; Carter Woodson’s article. “The Beginnings of The Miscegenation of the Whites and Blacks” in The Journal of Negro History; and A. W. Calhoun’s study, A Social History of the American Family.

Sin. Sex. Race.

The three words took deep roots, intertwined and became one in the Puritan psyche. In the famous sermon preached at Whitechapel in 1609 for Virginia-bound planters and adventurers, the minister fused the words in a stern admonition against miscegenation. From Genesis he summoned the figure of Abram who left his country and his father’s house and migrated to a land God had prepared for his seed.

“Abram’s posteritie,” the preacher said, “(must) keepe to themselves. They may not marry nor give in marriage to the heathen, that are uncircumcised…  …The breaking of this rule, may breake the necke of all good successe of this voyage, whereas by keeping the feare of God, the planters in shorte time, by the blessing of God, may grow into a nation formidable to all the enemies of Christ.”

It was easier said than done.

From the beginning, English colonists, following Abram’s example, married and mated with Hagars—red and black. Even more distressing to the Puritan mind was the broad tolerance of the English women who married and mated with Hagars brothers. Proscription began early. In 1630, a bare 21 years after the Whitechapel sermon, one Hugh Davis was “soundly whipped before an assemblage of Negroes and others for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and the shame of Christians by defiling his body in lying with a Negro…” Forty years later, white women were being whipped and sold into slavery and extended servitude for showing open preferences for Negro men. Alarmed by widespread miscegenation, colonists from South Carolina to Massachusetts began a systematic campaign which ultimately made the Whitechapel sermon the racial policy of the land. Every instrument of persuasion was used to teach white people that they should “not marry nor give in marriage” to Negroes. No amount of persuasion, however, could “keepe” whites to themselves.

Miscegenation in America started not in the thirteen original colonies but in Africa. English, French, Dutch and American slavetraders took black concubines on the Guinea coast and mated with females on the slave ships. It should be noted that many Africans and Europeans were themselves the products of thousands of years of mixing between various African, Asian and Caucasian peoples.

In and around Jamestown and the Massachusetts of Cotton Mather, there was an extensive trade in genes. Socio-economic conditions in the early colonies encouraged racial mingling. White men and women from England, Ireland and Scotland were bought and sold in the same markets with Negroes and bequeathed in the same wills. As indentured servants bound out for five or seven years, these whites worked in the fields with Negro servants and lived in the same rude tenant huts. A deep bond of sympathy developed between the Negro and white indentured servants who formed the bulk of the early population. They fraternized during off-duty hours and consoled themselves with the same strong rum. And in and out of wedlock, they sired a numerous mulatto brood.

When Negro servants were reduced to slavery, the colonial governing classes redoubled their efforts to stamp out racial mixing. Miscegenation in this era was not only a breach of Puritan morality, but it was also a threat to slavery and the stability of the servile labor force. As early as 1664, Maryland enacted the first anti-amalgamation statute. It was an astonishing document. The statute was aimed at white women who had resisted every effort to inoculate them with the virus of racial pride; and the preamble stated very clearly the reasons which drove white men to the extremity of enslaving white women.

And forasmuch as divers freeborn English women, forgetful of their free condition, and to the disgrace of our nation, do intermarry with negro slaves, by which also divers suits may arise, touching the issue of such women, and a great damage doth befall the master of such negroes, for preservation whereof for deterring such freehom women from such shameful matches, be it enacted: That whatsoever free-born woman shall intermarry with any slave, from and after the last day of the present assembly, shall serve the master of such slave during the life of her husband; and that all the issues of such free-born women, so married, shall be slaves as their fathers were.

This law failed to stay intermarriage. Some women chose love and slavery; others were reduced to slavery by scheming planters who forced them to marry Negro men in order to reap the additional economic benefits accruing from the extended service of the mothers and the perpetual slavery of their children. A celebrated case revolved around Irish Nell, an indentured servant who came over with Lord Baltimore. When Baltimore returned to England, he sold Irish Nell to a planter who forced or encouraged her to marry a Negro. Shocked by the practice of prostituting white women for economic purposes. Lord Baltimore used his influence to get the law changed. The new law was about as effective as the old one—which is to say, it was not effective at all. E. I. McConnac, the authority on white servitude in Maryland, said: “Mingling of the races in Maryland continued during the eighteenth century, in spite of all laws against it.”

Negro-white marriages, especially Negro male-white female marriages, were a problem in Virginia and other colonies. In 1691, Virginia restricted intermarriage. Similar laws were put on the books in Massachusetts in 1705, North Carolina in 1715. South Carolina in 1717. Shortly after the enactment of Virginia’s ban on intermarriage, Ann Wall was convicted of “keeping company with a Negro under pretense of marriage.” The Elizabeth County court sold Ann Wall for five years and bound out her two mulatto children for 31 years, and “it is further ordered,” the court said, “that ye said Ann Wall after she is free from her said master doe at any time presume to come into this county she shall be banished to ye Island of Barbadoes.”

In an unsuccessful attempt to halt intermingling, Pennsylvania banned intermarriage in 1725. Forty-five years later, during the glow of the Revolution, Pennsylvania repealed the ban on intermarriage. Thereafter, mixed marriages became common in Pennsylvania. Thomas Branagan visited Philadelphia in 1805 and averred that he had never seen so much intermingling. “There are,” he wrote, “many, very many blacks who… begin to feel themselves consequential… …will not be satisfied unless they get white women for wives, and are likewise exceedingly impertinent to white people in low circumstances… I solemnly swear, I have seen more white women married to, and deluded through the arts of seduction by negroes in one year in Philadelphia, than for eight years I was visiting (West Indies and the southern states)… …There are perhaps hundreds of white women thus fascinated by black men in this city and there are thousands of black children by them at present.”

Aristocrats did not always obey the rules they made. Benjamin Franklin, it is said, was quite open in his relationships with black women. Carter Woodson, the careful historian, says Franklin “seems to have made no secret of his associations with Negro women,” Well-to-do people usually stopped short of legal marriage, but there is evidence that some threw caution to the wind. The following item appears in the will of John Fenwick, the Lord Proprietor of New Jersey. “Item, I do except against Elizabeth Adams of having any ye leaste part of my estate, unless the Lord open her eyes to see her abominable transgression against him, me her good father, by giving her true repentance, and forsaking ye Black ye hath been ye ruin of her; and becoming penitent of her sins; upon ye condition only I do will and require my executors to settle five hundred acres of land upon her.”…

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