Interacial Relationships

Essay by Whit07High School, 11th grade January 2006

download word file, 5 pages 4.3

Interracial romance has been a point of argument in America since the first English settlers established colonies in the seventeenth century. In 1664 Maryland banned interracial marriage due to questions over whether the children of a black slave and a white person would be considered a free person or property. In following years, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina instituted anti-miscegenation laws which banned interracial marriage. In 1691 Virginia outlawed interracial couples and labeled their children as "that abominable mixture and spurious issue." When slavery was lifeless by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, many southern states instituted what were known as the "Black Codes." In addition to stripping freed slaves of most of their newly acquired rights, these codes continued the prohibition of marriage between whites and blacks. This was based on the idea that Africans, and Native Americans as well, were inferior races and interbreeding would pollute the white gene pool.

When Congress tried to override the "Black Codes" by issuing a series of laws from 1866 to 1875, the Supreme Court declared most of the legislation void and upheld the southern states' right to outlaw interracial marriage. Anti-miscegenation laws did not keep everyone from crossing the color line. Before the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, many white slave masters secretly took advantage of black women, with who they fathered many children. Also, not every state had laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Some estimates say that as many as 70 percent of African Americans are descendants of black and white couplings. Famous African Americans such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Frederick Douglass were of black and white ancestry. Douglass eventually married a white woman, Helen Pitts, after the death of his first wife. Douglass, one of the most vocal African American...