Legal History of the Color Line: The Rise and Triumph of the One-drop Rule

Front Cover
Backintyme, 2005 - 540 pages
One-Third of White Americans Have Recent Black Admixture Every Year, 35,000 Black-Born Youngsters Redefine Themselves as White Genealogists were the first to learn that America's color line leaks. Black researchers often find White ancestry. White genealogists routinely uncover Black ancestry. Molecular anthropologists now confirm Afro-European mixing in our DNA. The plain fact is that few Americans can truly say that they are genetically unmixed. Yet liberals and conservatives alike agree that so-called Whites and Blacks are distinct political races. When did ideology triumph over reality? How did America paint itself into such a strange corner? Americans changed their concept of race many times. Eston Hemings, Jefferson's son, was socially accepted as a White Virginian because he looked European. Biracial planters in antebellum South Carolina assimilated into White society because they were rich. Intermarried couples were acquitted despite the laws because some courts ruled that anyone one with less than one-fourth African ancestry was White, while others ruled that Italians were Colored. Dozens of nineteenth-century American families struggled to come to grips with notions of racial identity as the color line shifted and hardened into its present form. This 542-page book tells their stories in the light of genetic admixture studies and in the records of every appealed court case since 1780 that decided which side of the color line someone was on. Its index lists dozens of 19th-century surnames. It shows that: The color line was invented in 1691 to prevent servile insurrection. The one-drop rule was invented in the North during the Nat Turner panic. It was resisted by LouisianaCreoles, Florida Hispanics, and the maroon (triracial) communities of the Southeast. It triumphed during Jim Crow as a means of keeping Whites in line by banishing to Blackness any White family who dared to establish friendly relations with a Black family. Frank W. Sweet was accepted to Ph.D. candidacy in history at the University of Florida in 2003 and has completed all but his dissertation defense. He earned an M.A. in History from American Military University in 2001. He is the author of eleven historical booklets and numerous published historical essays. He was a member of the editorial board of the magazine Interracial Voice, is a regular lecturer and panelist at historical and genealogical conferences, and moderates an online discussion group on the history of U.S. racialism. Legal History of the Color Line, ISBN 0-939479-23-0, is available for $36.95 from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and can be ordered at any bookstore.

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Contents

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Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 107 - Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.
Page 241 - David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1991); Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White...
Page 131 - Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs Receive our air, that moment they are free; They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
Page 229 - The inhabitants of the territories which His Catholic Majesty cedes to the United States, by this treaty, shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the Federal Constitution, and admitted to the enjoyment of all the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States.
Page 253 - A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation; but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together.
Page 202 - No free negro, free mulatto, or free person of mixed blood, descended from negro ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive, (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person.) shall vote for members of the senate or house of commons.
Page 252 - On the contrary, the prejudice of race appears to be stronger in the states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists; and nowhere is it so intolerant as in those states where servitude has never been known.
Page 279 - Hispanic. A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican. Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. (e) White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.
Page 236 - Young, ardent, and hopeful, I entered upon this new life in the full gush of unsuspecting enthusiasm. The cause was good; the men engaged in it were good; the means to attain its triumph, good; Heaven's blessing must attend all, and freedom must soon be given to the pining millions under a ruthless bondage.
Page 393 - Missouri, as alleged in his declaration, being a negro of African descent, whose ancestors were of pure African blood, and who were brought into this country and sold as slaves.

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