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A number of states updated their anti-miscegenation laws in the s. Its sponsors used eugenic arguments to justify restrictions. He told Virginia lawmakers:.
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White race purity is the cornerstone of our civilization. Its mongrelization with non-white blood, particularly with Negro blood, would spell the downfall of our civilization.
This is a matter of both national and racial life and death, and no efforts would be spared to guard against the greatest of all perils—the perils of miscegenation. On March 20, , state lawmakers passed the Virginia Racial Integrity Act by a wide margin, and the governor signed it into law. The law stated in part:.
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The fact of their cohabitation here as man and wife shall be evidence of their marriage. Walter Plecker, a physician and the director of the Virginia Board of Vital Statistics, was responsible for the enforcement of the law in the early s. He and his staff relied on birth certificates, marriage licenses, tax records, and gossip to decide who was white and who was not. He targeted Native Americans in the belief that they were really blacks trying to pass as something else. Such a study has probably never been made before.
Eugenics, Race, and Marriage
Reprinted by permission of The New Press. Through a study of primary sources, students learn about the creation and reaction to anti-miscegenation laws during the Progressive Era.
There, she recorded the deprivations and rigors of camp life with unusual insight. The Mississippi Black Codes attempt to codify expectations of freedpeople around topics such as intermarriage and labor laws. Resource Library. Add or Edit Playlist. He told Virginia lawmakers: White race purity is the cornerstone of our civilization.
What is the purpose of an anti-miscegenation law? What scientific arguments might you offer to counter his argument? What moral or philosophical arguments were offered in support of the law? How would you respond to them? If possible, refer to particular provisions in the law. They have been unable to persuade the federal government to recognize them as tribes because Plecker erased all evidence of their heritage.
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