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Miscegenation Laws

Miscegenation refers to sexual relations between people from different racial groups. It stems from the Latin words “miscere” and “genus,” which mean “to mix” and “race,” respectively. Various American states prohibited miscegenation, also referred to as race-mixing.

Act to Prohibit Intermarriage of Races P260

  • 1514 Spanish law of 19 October explicitly permits intermarriage with Indians; permission of intermarriages reenacted in 1515 and 1556; intermarriage with blacks neither encouraged nor prohibited.
  • 1527 Spanish royal decree of 11 May recommends that male slaves ought to marry female slaves as much as possible: “with marriage and their love for wives and children and orderly married life they will become more calm and much sin and trouble will be avoided.”
  • 1541 Another Spanish decree for the colonies recommends that black men be married to black women since reportedly Negro slaves kept “great numbers of Indian women, some of them voluntarily, others against their wishes.”
  • 1630 1 Laws of Virginia 146; Hugh Davis in Jamestown ordered whipped for “abusing himself to the dishonor of God and the shame of Christians by defiling his body in lying with a Negro” (Higginbotham and Kopytoff note that “we cannot tell the gender of the Negro” and speculate that the “extremely strong language may have reflected the Council’s revulsion at a homosexual rela-tionship”).
  • 1638 Ordinance of the Director and Council of New Netherland prohibits adulterous intercourse between whites and heathens, blacks or other persons, upon threat of exemplary punishment of the white party.
  • 1640 1 Laws of Virginia 552; “Robert Sweat is to do penance in church according to the law of England, for getting a negro woman with child, and the woman to be soundly whipped.”
  • 1649 ” William Watts and Mary (Mr. Cornelius Lloyds negro woman) are ordered each of them to doe penance by standing in a white sheete with a white Rodd in their hands in the Chapell of Elizabeth River in the face of the congregation on the next sabbath day that the minister shall make penince service and the said Watts to pay the court charges” ( Virginia case).
  • 1661 Maryland act condemns free-born English women who intermarry with Negro slaves: “whatsoever free-born woman shall intermarrywith any slave, shall serve the master of such slave during the life of her husband; all the issues of such free-born women, so married, shall be slaves as their fathers were.” (According to Reuter, 78, children are condemned to 30-year slavery. Twenty years later amended to promise freedom to women and children if owner’s permis-sion was secured.)
  • 1662 First Virginia laws against intermarriage and against interracial sex: “if any christian shall committ ffornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act (which set fines for fornication at 500 pounds of tobacco].”
  • 1677 Pennsylvania law.
  • 1678 Political council of Cape colony prohibits marriages between Dutch burghers and freed slaves; reaffirmed by edict in 1685.
  • 1681 Maryland statute threatens punishment of any master who “instigated or merely allowed marriage between his white female servants and Black male slaves.”
  • 1685 Dutch Cape law prohibits marriage between white men and slave women; some legal unions of white men with free women of color continued to take place, but with decreasing frequency.
  • 1685 Article 9 of Code noir of Louis XIV threatens those men who live in concubinage with a (Negro) slave woman with the high fine of 2000 livres (pounds of sugar). Penalty could be avoided if the man so charged was unmarried and married the slave woman, which also legitimated any earlier offspring.
  • 1686 Code noir permits intermarriage between white men and slave women, but penalizes cohabitation.
  • 1691 Virginia law against “abominable mixture and spurious issue”: penalty for intermarriage is permanent removal from the domin-ion; white mothers of an illegitimate child by a Negro or Mulatto have to pay 15 pounds sterling and the child becomes a servant until age 30; 3 Laws of Va. 86, 87; reenacted in 1696(3 Laws of Va. 140) and 1705 (3 Laws of Va. 252, 453); punishment: banishment of white partner, minister who performs marriage has to pay 10,000 pounds of tobacco.
  • 1692 Acts of Maryland 76.
  • 1705 Virginia penalty for ministers performing intermarriages: 10,000 pounds of tobacco.
  • 1705 Massachusetts “Act for the Better Preventing of a Spurious and Mixt Issue” bans interracial fornication and marriage by statute. Section 1 prohibits fornication of “any negro or molatto man” “with an English woman, or a woman of any other Christian nation within this province,” punishable by whipping of both partners, the selling of the man out of the province within six months (after con-tinuous imprisonment), and pressing the woman into servitude if she is unable to maintain a child. Section 2 bans fornication of “any Englishman, or man of another Christian nation within this province.” “with a negro, or molatto woman,” punishable by whip-ping of only the man, who also shall pay a fine of five pounds and, if applicable, child support, and by the selling of the woman out of the province. Section 4 prohibits the contracting of matrimony between one of “her majesty’s English or Scottish subjects, [or] of any other Christian nation within this province” and “any negro or molatto,” threatening persons authorized who solemnize such a marriage with a fine of 50 pounds. Samuel Sewall polemicizes, without success, against the Act.
  • 1715  Laws of Maryland, ch. 44, sec. 25, providing for forced servitude of white women who had sexual relationships with black men.
  • 1715  North Carolina prohibits interracial marriage.
  • 1717  3 Statutes at Large of South Carolina, no. 383, at 20.
  • 1721  Delaware intermarriage ban.
  • 1724  French edict (of March) by Louis XV bans intermarriages between whites and blacks (but not whites and Indians) in Louisiana; this special Code noir for Louisiana also prohibits whites “or freeborn or
  • freed blacks” to live in concubinage with slaves; article 6 says: “Défendons à nos sujets blancs, de l’un et de l’autre sexe, de con-tracter mariage avec les Noirs, à paine de punition et d’amende arbitraire; et à tous curés, prêAtres ou missionaires, séculiers ou réguliers, et méme aux aumôniers de vaissaix de les marier.” (“We forbid our white subjects of either sex to contract marriage with blacks, under threat of punishment and fines; and forbid all clerics, priests, or missionaries, lay or ordained, and even ships’ chaplains, to marry them.”)
  • 1725  Pennsylvania forbids interracial marriage and cohabitation.
  • 1728  Maryland extends law to prohibit intermarriage and cohabitation between free mulatto women and black slaves; and subjects Negro women who have bastard children by white men to the same penal- ties as white women and Negro men.
  • 1738  Declaration prohibits the marriage of a slave while in France, open-ly ignored by Church.
  • 1741  1 Laws of North Carolina, ch. 35, sec. 15, at 157.
  • 1748  5 Laws of Virginia 548.
  • 1753  6 Laws of Virginia 111, 325, 361.
  • 1769  8 Laws of Virginia 358.
  • 1771  Viceroy of Portuguese Brazil orders degradation of an Amerindian chief, who, “disregarding the signal honours which he had received from the Crown, had sunk so low as to marry a Negress, staining his blood with this alliance.”
  • 1778  5 April: “Order of the Council of State forbidding all marriages between whites and blacks in France, on penalty of being expelled at once to the colonies.”
  • 1778  Spanish marriage regulation of 1776, requiring parental consent for couples under twenty-five (in order to prevent unequal alliances), is extended to overseas possessions with proviso that it is not to be applied to “Mulattoes, Negroes, Coyotes and other Cas-tas and similar races.”
  • 1780  Pennsylvania repeals its law of 1725.
  • 1786  Virginia bill, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, revises colonial mar-riage law, omitting reference to ecclesiastical authority but reenact-ing the following: “A marriage between a person of free condition and a slave, or between a white person and a negro, or between awhite person and a mulatto, shall be null.”
  • 1786  22 June: Massachusetts reenacts the colonial law, “That no person by this Act authorized to marry, shall join in marriage any white person with any Negro, Indian or Mulatto, on penalty of the sum of fifty pounds. . .; and that all such marriages shall be absolutely null and void.”


  • 1800-1900  “During the nineteenth century, as many as thirty-eight [U.S.] states prohibited interracial marriages.”
  • 1805  Spanish royal decree requires that persons of “pure blood” obtain permission of the viceroy or the audiencia in order to marry “ele-ments of Negro and Mulatto origin.”
  • 1808  Louisiana Civil Code 1808, page 24, article 8: “Free persons and slaves are incapable of contracting marriage together; the celebra-tion of such marriages is forbidden, and the marriage is void; it is the same with respect to the marriages contracted by free white persons with free people of color.”
  • 1819  First reported U.S. (postcolonial) case.
  • 1819  Midway v. Needham, 16 Mass. 157, upheld the validity of a marriage between a Mulatto man and a white woman, both domiciled in Massachusetts, “although celebrated in Rhode Island in order to avoid the Massachusetts law.”
  • 1825  Louisiana Civil Code continues the prohibition of marriage between slaves, free persons of color, and whites.
  • 1837  5 June: Texas act provides “It shall not be lawful for any person of Caucasian blood or their descendants to intermarry with Africansor the descendants of Africans.”
  • 1839  20 March: Lydia Maria Child petitions the Massachusetts House of Representatives to abolish antiamalgamation legislation.
  • 1841  19 January: Massachusetts House of Representatives petition by Wm. E. Channing and 42 other Bostonians to repeal intermarriage ban.
  • 1841  Rhode Island repeals its law banning intermarriage.
  • 1841  Pennsylvania bill passed in the House but defeated in the Senate.
  • 1843  Massachusetts repeals law.
  • 1849  Virginia Code, ch. 109, sec. 1, at 471 makes “any marriage between a white person and a Negro absolutely void without further legal process” (Higginbotham and Kopytoff 2007n, stress that before then children of mixed marriages were not illegitimate).
  • 1861  Ohio law forbids intermarriage between a person of pure white blood and one having a visible admixture of African blood.
  • 1869  Scott v. Georgia, 39 Ga. rep. 321, 324 ( 1869): “The amalgamation of the races is not only unnatural, but is always productive of deplorable results. Our daily observation shows us, that the off-spring of these unnatural connections are generally sickly and effeminate, and that they are inferior in physical development and
  • strength, to the full-blood of either race. It is sometimes urged that such marriages should be encouraged, for the purpose of elevating the inferior race. The reply is, that such connections never elevate the inferior race to the position of the superior, but they bring down the superior to that of the inferior. They are productive ofevil, and evil only, without any corresponding good.”
  • 1869  Missouri supreme court approves a miscegenation law because “mixed marriages cannot possibly have any progeny and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid intermarriage of blacks and whites.”
  • 1871  State v. Gibson, 36 Indiana 389, 404, citing with approval: “The natural law which forbids their [black and white] intermarriage and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to them different natures.”
  • 1871  Tennessee: Doc. Lonas v. State, 50 Tenn. 287, 310-11: “The laws of civilization demand that the races be kept apart in this country. The progress of either does not depend upon an admixture of blood. A sound philanthropy, looking to the public peace and the happiness of both races, would regard any effort to intermerge the individuality of the races as a calamity full of the saddest and gloomiest portent to the generations that are to come after us.”
  • 1877  Alabama supreme court, in Green v. State, 58 Ala. 190, 195, asserts state’s right to enforce intermarriage bans: “Manifestly, it is for the peace and happiness of the black race, as well as of the white, that such laws should exist. And surely there can not be any tyranny or injustice in requiring both alike, to form this union with those of their own race only, whom God hath joined together by indelible peculiarities, which declare that He has made the two races distinct.”
  • 1877  In the Virginia case of McPherson v. Commonwealth, 69 Va. 292, Judge Moncure decided that Rowena McPherson was permitted to marry a white man because “less than one-fourth of her blood is negro blood. If it be but one drop less, she is not a negro.”
  • 1877  Colorado passes the following laws only for the part settled by the United States (not valid in the part of Colorado settled by Mexico):  “All marriages between Negroes and mulattoes of either sex andwhite persons are declared absolutely void. . . . provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as to prevent people living in that portion of the State acquired from Mexico from marrying according to the custom of that country.” Penalties: “Fine of not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars, or imprisonment for not less than three months, nor more than two years.” Chapter 63, 1736, sec. 2, and 1737, sec. 3.
  • 1878  Virginia supreme court, in Kinney v. Commonwealth, 71 Va. 858, 869, considers it the state’s duty to protect the moral welfare of both races and ban miscegenation: “The purity of public morals, the moral and physical development of both races, and the highest advancement of our cherished southern civilization, under which two distinct races are to work out and accomplish the destiny to which the Almighty has assigned them on this continent — all require that they should be kept distinct and separate, and that con-nections and alliances so unnatural that God and nature seem to forbid them, should be prohibited by positive law, and be subject to no evasion.”
  • 1880  Mississippi code bans intermarriage, declaring it to be “incestuous and void.” Statute provides the same punishment as for incest. Sec-tion 3244: “any party thereto, on conviction, shall be punished as for a marriage within the degrees prohibited by the last two sec-tions.”
  • 1881  Alabama supreme court, in Pace v. State, 69 Ala. 231, 232, upholds a statute more severely punishing adultery when it is interracial and stresses the hazardous effects of racial mixing: “Its result may be the amalgamation of the two races, producing a mongrel population and a degraded civilization, the prevention of which is dictated by a sound public policy affecting the highest interests of society and government.”
  • 1881  Florida act provides twelve months’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500 for a Negro and a white person of opposite sex who occupy the same room habitually. Penalty for violation of intermar-riage prohibition is prison up to ten years and a maximum fine of $500; for clergymen, priests, or public officials who solemnize such a union, it is prison up to one year and a fine up to $1000.
  • 1882  U.S. Supreme Court rules the Alabama Code’s harsher punishment of interracial fornication constitutional in Pace v. Alabama, 106 U.S. 583 — on the grounds that both black and white get punished more severely for interracial than for intraracial fornication: “The two sections of the code cited are entirely consistent. The one pre-scribes, generally, a punishment for an offense committed between persons of different sexes; the other prescribes a punishment for an offence which can only be committed where the two sexes are of different races. There is in neither section any discrimination against either race. Sect. 4184 equally includes the offence when the persons of the two sexes are both white and when they are both black. Sect. 4189 applies the same punishment to both offenders, the white and the black. Indeed, the offence against which this lat-ter section is aimed cannot be committed without involving the persons of both races in the same punishment. Whatever discrimi-nation is made in the punishment prescribed in the two sections is directed against the offence designated and not against the person of any particular color or race. The punishment of each offending person, whether white or black, is the same.”
  • 1883  Maine and Michigan laws repealed.
  • 1883  Missouri: State v. Jackson, Mo. 175, 179: “It is stated as a well authenticated fact that if the issue of a black man and a white woman, and a white man and a black woman, intermarry, they can-not possibly have any progeny, and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid the intermarriage of blacks and whites, lay-ing out of view other sufficient grounds for such enactments.”
  • 1883  Constitution of North Carolina, art. 14, sec. 8: “All marriages between a white person and a Negro, or between a white person and a person of Negro descent to the third generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.”
  • 1886  New Mexico repeals its law.
  • 1887 Ohio legislature repeals all laws establishing or permitting distinc-tions of color, including intermarriage bans.
  • 1888  U.S. Supreme Court, in Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (not an intermarriage case), decides that marriages are not contracts in the sense of those constitutionally protected.
  • 1889  Georgia II Code, sec. 2422: “The marriage relation between white persons and persons of African descent is forever prohibited, and such marriage shall be null and void.”
  • 1890  Constitution of Mississippi, art. 14, sec. 263: “The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto, or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void.”
  • 1890  Federal District Court of Southern Georgia determines, in State v. Tutty, 41 Fed. 753, that Georgia laws forever prohibiting marriage between whites and persons of African descent cannot be circum-vented by contracting a marriage in another state.
  • 1891  Colorado: Mill’s Annotated Statutes, secs. 1320-2989: “All marriages between Negroes or Mulattoes, of either sex, and white per-sons are declared to be absolutely void.”
  • 1892  State Constitution of Florida, art. 16, sec. 24: “All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation, inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.”
  • 1893  Kentucky Statutes, sec. 2097, prohibits and declares void marriage “between a white person and a negro or mulatto”; intermarriages from other states are not recognized; no property rights come from such a marriage.
  • 1895  The Constitution of South Carolina, art. 3, sec. 33: “The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto, or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void.”
  • 1895  Georgia, II Code, sec. 2422: “The marriage relation between white persons and persons of African descent is forever prohibited, and such marriage shall be null and void.”
  • 1896  Constitution of Tennessee, art. 11, sec. 14: “The intermarriage of white persons with negroes, mulattoes, or persons of mixed blood, descended from a negro to the third generation, inclusive, or their living together as man and wife in this State is prohibited. The leg- islature shall enforce this section by appropriate legislation.”
  • 1897  Transvaal passes law no. 2 — 1897, “Wet tot tegengaan van deontucht,” immorality legislation against extramarital intercourse between consenting white women and black men (defined to include all members of indigenous and colored races of South Africa as well as Coolies, Arabs, and Malays). Penalties for the white woman (in cases other than rape) were up to five years’ imprisonment or expulsion from the republic; for black men, six years of hard labor and up to 50 lashes. This law and its amendments (no. 46 — 1903, “Immorality Ordinance,” and no. 16 — 1908, “Criminal Law Amendment Act”) provided the models for other South African laws, including the 1927 “Immorality Act.”
  • 1897  Transvaal law no. 3 — 1897 regulating marriages of coloured people, “Wet regelnde de huwelijken van kleurlingen,” which specified only the possibility that colored people marry other colored people, whereas the previous marriage law of 1871 was only for whites; colored marriages contracted before 1897 were legalized with ordinance no. 29 — 1903.
  • 1898  Utah Revised Statutes, sec. 1184: “Marriage is prohibited and declared void: between a negro and a white person” and “between a Mongolian and a white person.”

  • 1901  Alabama State Constitution (amended), sec. 102: “The legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a negro, or a descendant of a negro.”
  • 1901  Arizona Revised Statutes, sec. 3092: “All Marriages of persons of Caucasian blood, or their descendants, with Negroes, Mongolians or Indians, and their descendants, shall be null and void” (followed by incest ban).
  • 1902  Oregon: Bellinger and Cotton Code, sec. 5217: “What marriages are void. 3. When either of the parties is a white person and the other negro, or Mongolian or a person of one-fourth or more of negro or Mongolian blood.” Sec. 1999: “Hereafter it shall not be lawful within this state for any white person, male or female, to intermarry with any negro, Chinese, or any person having one- fourth or more negro, Chinese or Kanaka blood, or any person having more than one-half Indian blood, . . . . and all such marriages, or attempted marriages, shall be absolutely null and void.”
  • 1902  Cape Colony law no. 36- 1902, “Betting Houses, Gaming Houses, and Brothels Suppression Act,” prohibits voluntary sexual relationsfor the purpose of gain between white women and Africans (“aboriginal natives”); the maximum punishment for women is two years’ imprisonment at hard labor (sec. 24), for procuring up to five years at hard labor, and for male procurers additionally up to 25 beatings (secs. 35 and 36). In the House of Assembly debates of 1902(pp.438 and 486ff) the law was advocated by Mr. Graham as a protection of women, and by Mr. Merriman as a device in the interest of white and black in order to prevent riots of the kind that were familiar from the southern United States. (Prostitution and procuring were only punishable when they were interracial. Unlike in the model of this law from Transvaal, the black men in these cases were not subjected to punishment. The law did not affect white men and black prostitutes or white women and colored men.)
  • 1903  The British colonies in what was to become South Africa enacted laws similar to but going beyond that of the Cape Colony. Natal: No. 31-1903, “Criminal Law Amendment Act,” prohibits indecent relations between white women and colored persons (sec. 16); colored were defined in the “Vagrancy Law” 15-1869 as “Hot tentots, coolies, bushmen, Lascars, and members of the so-called kaffer population.” Orange Free State: No. 11 — 1903, “Suppression of Brothels and Immorality Act,” sec. 14-16. Transvaal: No. 46-1903, “Immorality Ordinance,” similar to Natal, but with harsher punishment and with a very broad definition of “native” as including natives of the indigenous or colored races of Africa, Asia, or St. Helena; in addition Transvaal had no provisions for (though also no direct ban of) intermarriages since 1897.
  • 1903  Rhodesian “Immorality and Indecency Suppression Act” (by Cecil Rhodes’s British South African Company) makes illegal and punishable sexual relations between a white woman and a black man (but not those between a white man and a black woman).
  • 1904  Arkansas, Kerby’s Statues, sec. 5174: “All marriages of white persons with Negroes or Mulattoes are declared to be illegal and void.”
  • 1906  Kerr’s Code of California, vol. 2, part 3, paragraph 60: “All marriages of white persons with negroes, mongolians, or mulattoes are illegal and void.”
  • 1906  Missouri Statutes, ch. 50, see. 4312: “All marriages between white persons and mongolians, are prohibited and declared absolutely void, and this prohibition shall apply to illegitimate as well as legit-imate children and relatives.” Sec. 2174: “No person having one-eighth part or more of negro blood shall be permitted to marry any white person, nor shall any white person be permitted to marry any negro or person having one-eighth part or more of negro blood; and every person who shall knowingly marry in violation of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for two years, or by fine of not less than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not less than three months, or by both such fine and imprisonment; and the jury trying any such case may determine the proportion of negro blood in any party to such marriage from the appearance of such person.”
  • 1906  Texas Criminal Statutes, art. 346: “If any white person and negro shall knowingly intermarry with each other within this state, or, having so intermarried, in or out of the state, shall continue to live together as man and wife within this state, they shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for a term not less than two or more than five years.”
  • 1906  West Virginia Code, sec. 2917: “Void marriages: 1. All marriages between a white person and a negro.”
  • 1908  Natal Native Affairs Committee publishes report in which desirability of intermarriage ban is discussed (but not formally proposed); the report invoked Herbert Spencer’s condemnation of intermarriage on the ground that it leads to incalculably chaotic character traits in the second generation.
  • 1908  Indiana statutes make void marriage between a white person and one of one-eighth or more of Negro blood.
  • 1908  Louisiana Act 87 makes “concubinage between a person of the Caucasian race and a person of the negro race a felony, fixing the punishment therefore and defining what shall constitute the concubinage”; penalty imprisonment of one month to one year with or without hard labor.
  • In the same year the Louisiana Supreme Court in State v. Tread away (126 La. 1908) acquits Treadaway of miscegenation charge “because his companion was an octoroon, and an octoroon was not ‘a person of the negro blood or black race.'” This, the court argues, is because ” [t] here are no negroes who are not persons of color; but there are persons of color who are not negroes” (see 1910 for Louisiana’s legislative response). Louisiana Civil Code, art. 94, prohibits and voids marriage between white persons and persons of color.
  • 1909  Montana statutes passed declaring marriages between whites and persons of whole or part Negro blood or Chinese or Japanese null and void.
  • 1909  North Dakota makes marriage of white state residents with persons of one-eighth or more Negro blood unlawful and void, punishable by prison of up to ten years and/or a fine of up to two thousand dollars.
  • 1910  Louisiana legislature, in act 206, House bill no. 220, amends interracial concubinage prohibition to extend to any “person of the colored or black race.”
  • 1910  Natal case of Biscombe and Bissesseur v. Rex: The white woman Biscombe was acquitted of miscegenation charges for her relation with the Indian man Bissesseur because the court determined that “coolies” was not a racial term but included class features: for example, a barrister of Indian parentage was not a “coolie” and Bissesseur was a “free” Indian and hence not a “coolie.”   1910  North Carolina case of Ferrall v. Ferrall turns down a husband’s request to evade a property settlement and alimony on the grounds that his wife was “negro within the prohibited degree”: “Years ago the plaintiff married a wife who, if she had any strain of negro blood whatever, was so white he did not suspect it until recently. . . . Now. . . he seeks to get rid of her . . . in a method that will not only deprive her of any support while he lives by alimony, or by dower after his death, but which would consign her to the association of the colored race which he so affects to despise. . . . The law may not permit him thus to bastardize his own children.”
  • 1910  Oklahoma Revised Laws, sec. 3894: “The marriage of any person of African descent, as defined by the constitution of this State to any person not of African descent to any person of African descent, shall be unlawful and is hereby prohibited within this State.” The state constitution, art. 23, sec. 11, defines races as follows: “Wherever in this Constitution and laws of the State the word or words ‘colored’ or ‘colored race,’ ‘negro’ or ‘negro race’ are used the same shall be construed to mean or apply to all persons of African descent. The term ‘white race’ shall include all other persons.”
  • 1911  Nebraska Compiled Statutes, ch. 25, sec. 31, Consanguinity or Miscegenation: “Upon the dissolution by decree or sentence of nullity of any marriage that is prohibited on account of consanguinity between the parties, or of any marriage between a white person and a negro, the issue of the marriage shall be deemed to be illegitimate.”
  • 1912  Nevada Revised Laws, sec. 6517: “If any white person with any person shall live and cohabit with any black person, mulatto, Indian, or any person of the Malay or brown race or of the Mongolian or yellow race, in a state of fornication, such person so offending shall, onconviction thereof, be fined in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, and not less than one hundred dollars, or be imprisoned in the county jail not less than six months or more than one year, or both.”
  • 1912  17 January: Ban of racial intermarriages in German Samoa.
  • 1912  8 May: German Reichstag defeats proposal to ban intermarriage in colonies and resolves (202 to 133 votes) that Bundesrat enact legislation securing the validity of marriages between whites and natives in German colonies and regulating the rights of illegitimate children; sponsors: Zentrum, supported by Social Democrats.
  • 1913  Nebraska Laws, ch. 72, sec. 5302. Void marriages: “First — when one party is a white person and the other is possessed of one-eighth or more negro, Japanese or Chinese blood.”
  • 1913  South Dakota Compiled Laws, ch. 166, sec. 1: “The intermarriage or illicit cohabitation of any persons belonging to the African, Corean, Malayan or Mongolian race, with any person of the opposite sex, belonging to the Caucasian or white race, is hereby prohibited, and any person who shall hereafter enter into any such marriage, or who shall indulge in any such illicit cohabitation shall be deemed guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding ten years or both such fine and imprisonment.”
  • 1913  South African Assaults on Women Committee, p. 36, criticizes 1902 “Brothels Suppression Act” for not including sexual relations between white men and native women.
  • 1915  Michigan Compiled Laws, sections 5700-5703 makes intermarriages expressly valid.
  • 1915  28 U.S. states have statutes prohibiting interracial marriages or cohabitation; ten among them have constitutional prohibitions.
  • 1919  Idaho law (amended 1921) declares marriage between whites and Mongolians, Negroes, or Mulattoes to be illegal and void; penalty for cohabitation is imprisonment up to six months and a maximum fine of $300.
  • 1920  Statutes of Louisiana, act 220, prohibits marriage between persons of Indian race and of colored or black race; act 230 forbids cohabitation between Negroes and Indians.
  • 1920  Wyoming Compiled Statutes prohibit marriage of a white and a Negro, Mulatto, Mongolian, or Malay.
  • 1921  Georgia act makes felonious and void the intermarriage of whites and persons with an ascertainable trace of African, West Indian, Asiatic Indian, or Mongolian blood. Provisions for detecting such blood could not be enforced for lack of appropriations.
  • 1921  Montana Revised Codes, sec. 5700, declares null and void the marriage between a white person and a Negro or a person with some part of Negro blood.
  • 1923  Public Acts of Michigan, no. 7, declares intermarriages legal.
  • 1923  Oklahoma Supreme Court, in Blake v. Sessions, declares void the marriage between a man of 3/4 Indian and 1/4 Negro blood and a woman with 3/4 Indian and 1/4 white blood (reason: 1910 Oklahoma Laws, sec. 1677, prohibits marriages between persons of African descent and persons of non-African descent).
  • 1924  27 February: Virginia Senate passes 23 to 4 the “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity,” requiring racial ancestry certificate for all citizens born before 14 June 1912 and sharpening previous intermarriage bans: “It shall be unlawful for any white person in this state to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American Indian. For the purpose of this act, the term ‘white person’ shall apply only to the person who has no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian; but persons who have one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-caucasic blood shall be deeemed to be white” (previously persons of less than one-quarter Negro blood did not count as Negroes).
  • 1927  South African Union House of Assembly (under Hertzog government) passes “Immorality Act,” no. 5 — 1927, which bans all extramarital interracial sexual relations between Europeans and Africans. “Illicit carnal intercourse” is defined as an “offence” punishable with prison up to five years for men and up to four years for women. In the House of Assembly Debates 1926, p. 36, and 1927, pp.37ff., the minister of justice Tielman Roos defended the proposed act as protecting the native women of South Africa, and, second, in order to teach the populace that intercourse between Europeans and natives was not a thing to be taken lightly. From 1928 to 1938 about 550 Europeans (among them 75 women) and 600 natives (among them 510 women) were punished.
  • 1927  Georgia passes law requiring citizens to provide information on racial antecedents.
  • 1930  Virginia requires persons to provide racial genealogy.
  • 1934  South West Africa enacts “Immorality Proclamation,” no. 19-1934, modeled on South Africa’s 1927 “Immorality Act.”
  • 1935  15 September: “Nürnberger Gesetze” prohibit interracial sex and marriage between “Aryans” and “Jews” in Nazi Germany; “Gesetzzum Schutz des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre” and”Reichsbürgergesetz,” Reichsgesetzblatt 1146.
  • 1936/37  Proposals for union-wide bans of interracial marriages are introduced to South African House of Assembly by Major Roberts and General Pienaar but defeated; the minister of the interior, Jan H. Hofmeyr, strongly opposed the proposals. A Mixed MarriageCommission is formed.
  • 1938  17 November: “Provvedimenti per la difesa della razza italiana,”Reggio Decreto Legge no. 1728 in fascist Italy: “Ilmatrimonio del cittadino italiano di razza ariana con persona appartenente ad altrarazza è proibito.”
  • 1945  End of World War II; racial legislation in Italy and Germanyannulled.
  • 1948  California supreme court case of Perez v. Sharp, 32 Cal. 2d 711, 198P. 2d 17, declares state miscegenation laws unconstitutional.
  • 1949  South African Union passes “Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act” which makes intermarriage between Europeans and all non-Europeans illegal.
  • 1950  South African Union amends 1927 “Immorality Act” to extend it to “Coloureds”; sexual intercourse or even “immoral or indecent acts” between whites and all nonwhite groups prohibited; maximum punishment of seven years of hard labor, corporal punishment for men; only exceptions are couples legally married before 1949 Act. “Sexual relations between persons of African, Coloured, and Asiatic origin are not forbidden by law.” According to Wauthier, Literature and Thought of Modern Africa, 181, the official number of those found guilty from the enactment to June 1964 exceeded 5000:”Europeans: men 2,614, women 118; Africans: men 119, women 1,208; Coloureds: men 76, women 1,072; Asians (mainly of Indian origin): men 17, women 28.”
  • 1950  Intermarriage prohibited in 30 of 48 U.S. states
  • 1944; by the 1967 Supreme Court ruling, 13 states had repealed their laws).
  • 1951  Oregon repeals interdiction.
  • 1953  Montana terminates prohibition.
  • 1955  North Dakota laws voided.
  • 1955  In Naim v. Naim, 197 Va. 80, 87 S.E. 2d 749, Virginia supreme court sustains miscegenation statute; state’s legislative purpose was “to preserve the racial integrity of its citizens” and to prevent “the corruption of blood,” “the obliteration of racial pride,” and the ereation of “a mongrel breed of citizens.”
  • 1957  South Dakota and Colorado repeal laws.
  • 1959  Louisiana supreme court upholds the state’s miscegenation law, arguing that the state could protect the children from such marriages from “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone” ( Zabel, 121 notes that this was a sarcastic verbal echo of the Supreme Court’s 1954 school integration ruling in Brown v.Board of Education).
  • 1959  California, Idaho, and Nevada repeal ban.
  • 1961  Rhodesian “Immorality and Indecency Suppression Act” of 1903 abrogated.
  • 1962  Arizona law repealed.
  • 1963  Nebraska and Utah revoke intermarriage prohibitions.
  • 1964  In McLaughlin et al. v. Florida, U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Florida criminal statute 798.05, which prohibits an “unmarried interracial couple from habitually living in and occupying the same room in the nighttime” with a penalty of jail up to one year and a fine up to $500; ruling explicitly overturns Pace v. Alabama ( 1882). Court avoids the intermarriage issue as it rejects Florida’s argument in support of the interracial cohabitation ban “without reaching the question of the validity of the State’s prohibition against interracial marriage. . . . For even if we posit the constitutionality of the ban against the marriage of a Negro and a white, it does not follow that the cohabitation law is not to be subjected to independent examination under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
  • 1965  Wyoming laws removed.
  • 1966  19 U.S. states (17 in the South) have intermarriage proscriptions.
  • 1967  12 June: Loving v. Virginia. U.S. Supreme Court rules (9 to 0) that antimiscegenation laws are unconstitutional within the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Chief Justice Warren: “There can be no question that Virginia’s miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race. . . .Marriage is one of ‘the basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival. . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.” The case was that of the white construction worker Richard Loving and his Negro wife Mildred Jeter, who had married in the District of Columbia and then returned to Virginia. Decision affected Virginia and the following sixteen states with statutes or constitutions outlawing interracial marriage: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mis-sissippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Maryland had initiated a repeal of the law.
  • 1968  South African parliament votes to consider null and void any interracial marriage, solemnized abroad, between white South Africans and nonwhites.
  • 1977  Limited Constitutional Convention eliminates prohibition of
    interracial marriages from Tennessee Constitution by resolving
    unanimously that “Article XI, of the Constitution is hereby amended by deleting therefrom in its entirety Section 14 prohibiting interracial marriages.”
  • 1978  31 March: Tennessee proclaims repeal of the 1896 constitution’s art. 11, sec. 14, prohibiting racial intermarriage after narrow approval of electorate with 199,742 against 191,745 votes.
  • 1985  15 April: Home Affairs Minister Frederik W. de Klerk announces that South African government accepts recommendation from three-chamber parliamentary committee to overturn the 1949 “Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act,” the “Immorality Act,” and other legislation prohibiting interracial sex or marriage. In the five preceding years, 918 people had been prosecuted for violations of these laws.
  • 1987  4 December: Mississippi Secretary of State proclaims that section 263 of 1890 constitution, prohibiting interracial marriage, is deleted based upon House Concurrent Resolution #13 (Laws 1987, ch.672) and ratification by the electorate on November 3.