Intermarriage between wealthy mulattos and whites in the antebellum south

Jan 2013
1,066
Toronto, Canada
There's a saying in Latin America - money whitens. With a big enough fortune, mixed-race people could rewrite their family history and suitors could be convinced to overlook it.
 
Sep 2015
395
The Eastern Hinterlands
View attachment 23939

This is from Black Masters by Larry Kroger.
From what I've read freed blacks could marry poor white women in the antebellum South. For instance an Irish servant could get the approval of her master to marry a free black. Such marriages were not common but neither were they unheard of. Society looked the other way with such unions. The white woman would be excluded from polite society but there would be no violence directed at the couple. It was after the Civil War with the end of slavery when whites saw blacks as threats that lynching escalated and the banning of interracial marriages occurred.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,605
Dispargum
The example cited in the OP involves French and Spanish living around New Orleans. Anglo-Saxons had different attitudes about race relations. Interracial marriage happened between Blacks and Anglo-Saxons, too, but not as often. The French and Spanish had long traditions of intermarriage with Indians - Anglo-Saxons, sometimes, but not as often.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,286
SoCal
From what I've read freed blacks could marry poor white women in the antebellum South. For instance an Irish servant could get the approval of her master to marry a free black. Such marriages were not common but neither were they unheard of. Society looked the other way with such unions. The white woman would be excluded from polite society but there would be no violence directed at the couple. It was after the Civil War with the end of slavery when whites saw blacks as threats that lynching escalated and the banning of interracial marriages occurred.
This actually appears to be incorrect; with the exception of Delaware, Southern US states appear to have passed anti-miscegenation laws relatively quickly after they became US states:

 
Sep 2012
1,143
Tarkington, Texas
There are always ways to get around laws. PBS Pinchback was born in Mississippi to a White Farmer and his Slave Mother. They were legally wed. To get around Mississippi state law, senior Pinchback sent his children North for schooling. PBS found employment as a Purchasing agent on riverboats. Come the Civil War, Ben Butler allowed Blacks to be officers in the Corps d'Afrique. When Nate Banks replaced Butler, he decided to get these Black Officers to quit. PBS quit, most of the rest were killed off by an attack on the bluff at Port Hudson.

In a place like Louisiana there were many Black women available in various shades. Light colored Free Black women were popular marriage material. In the Red River Campaign, Butler's troops found the most valuable plantation in Louisiana (owned by a Free Black) and burned it. I have met a number of beautiful light colored Black Women over the years. One was a friend of my future ex-wife. She married a salesman and moved to Iowa. I bet her children's birth certificates up there read "White".

This is the second time I have read a thread in this forum about Irish women marrying Black men. Some of the most virulent racists I have run into have been Irish. My great great grandmother was an Irish woman from Virginia. SHE married an Irishman that was a veteran of the Union Army (he was from New York City)!

Pruitt
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,439
From what I've read freed blacks could marry poor white women in the antebellum South. For instance an Irish servant could get the approval of her master to marry a free black. Such marriages were not common but neither were they unheard of. Society looked the other way with such unions. The white woman would be excluded from polite society but there would be no violence directed at the couple. It was after the Civil War with the end of slavery when whites saw blacks as threats that lynching escalated and the banning of interracial marriages occurred.
It is true that there was more of an issue about interracial marriage and black men being involved with white women after Reconstruction. There weren't many Irish in the south, but plenty of poor whites. It is likely there was intermarriage between free mulattos who "passed" and whites, and that was more accepted than after Reconstruction. When they passed "one drop" laws in the late 19th century, comments were made that many people from the best families would technically be black under those laws.

I gave a documented example of a black plantation owner marrying an upper class white woman. However, I don't know if there are records of ordinary free black men in the south who weren't light enough to sort of pass marrying white women. There were white women married to black men lynched in the NYC draft riots, but there was no miscegination law in New York state.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,825
This is the second time I have read a thread in this forum about Irish women marrying Black men. Some of the most virulent racists I have run into have been Irish. My great great grandmother was an Irish woman from Virginia. SHE married an Irishman that was a veteran of the Union Army (he was from New York City)!

Pruitt
In 19th c. England plenty of arguments were made that the Irish were African in origin, Gaelic not an Indoeuropean language etc. They were widely regarded as not-white.
 
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Sep 2015
395
The Eastern Hinterlands
It is true that there was more of an issue about interracial marriage and black men being involved with white women after Reconstruction. There weren't many Irish in the south, but plenty of poor whites. It is likely there was intermarriage between free mulattos who "passed" and whites, and that was more accepted than after Reconstruction. When they passed "one drop" laws in the late 19th century, comments were made that many people from the best families would technically be black under those laws.

I gave a documented example of a black plantation owner marrying an upper class white woman. However, I don't know if there are records of ordinary free black men in the south who weren't light enough to sort of pass marrying white women. There were white women married to black men lynched in the NYC draft riots, but there was no miscegination law in New York state.
It's an interesting topic indeed and a reflection on human nature.
 
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Sep 2012
1,143
Tarkington, Texas
I am reminded of Oscar Wilde who saw some of the same people fox hunting: "The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible!"

Pruitt
 
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