I’m an author and a blogger. I write about a wide variety of issues and many of the historical things I write about are not pleasant but that does not make me shy away. But there’s one issue that I keep avoiding. I think it’s because I can’t believe it. After the Civil War, Mississippi accepted that former slaves lived together and had families. The children became legitimate and the marriages became legal. That must have brought relief. But at the same time, Mississippi condemned mixed-race marriage partners to… life in prison. Life in prison? Because two people love each other and they don’t happen to have the same skin color? Are you kidding me? Wow. That was only a-hundred-and-fifty-years ago. Life in prison? Unbelievable. There must be more to it.
What’s interesting is that during the middle ages in Spain, mixed race marriages were no big deal. It was not uncommon for affluent women to take black lovers. On the other hand, back in 1724 when the French were in charge of the Louisiana territory, which Mississippi was a part of, they too forbade mixed race marriages and cohabitation. The French said, “We forbid our white subjects, of both sexes, to marry with the blacks…” When white masters took advantage of their female slaves the master was fined and deprived of the slave and the children but the slave who was forced into the relationship and the children arising from it were “… forever incapable of being set free.”
Millions of people, black and white, live in America today and their DNA tells us unequivocally that the Louisiana Code Noir, the Slave Code, did not stop people from inter-racial relationships. Nor did the harsh penalty of life in prison after the Civil War. And let’s be clear. There were plenty of instances of deep love that crossed the color lines. Here is one of those I ran across in my research:
Peter, 27, stout fellow. The negro lived with Stephen Townsend of Charlestown, South Carolina that near 2 years ago married Mr. Townsend’s daughter when his master gave him to her.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:
Book One, Black Pansy: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Pansy-Suellen-Ocean/dp/1484900278
Book Two, Blue Violet: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZWX0R4