With the new laws, more people were fined, the penalties were higher, and now the bastard child would be bound as a servant until the age of 31. The author starts out this article by stating there is no better place to examine prohibitions on interracial sex and marriage as Virginia.
Then in 1765 Virginia's legislature relaxed the terms of their laws in only one aspect-children born after this year would only be subject to servantry for 21 years if they were male and 18 years if female.19 Up until the 1960's, the laws against interracial marriages stayed on the books. Many people see Virginia as the "mother of Presidents" (four of the first five Presidents were from Virginia), and the "mother of Revolutionaries" such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry.20 However, Virginia was also the leader of slavery and one of the first colonies to formulate a legal definition of race.
The article goes into much detail on the ideals of classification and what benefits classification had for a society. The author of this article comments on those who are advocates of the "just say no" approach to racism.
This article is also a perfect example to show how law is directly affected with the changes in society's views. This approach basically states that we all will reject conscious racist acts and proceed in a color-blind manner.
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In the 16's rape carried the death penalty, but by 1795 the death penalty for rape was abolished. 39 Clotye Larson, Children in Interracial Homes, Marriage Across the Color Line, 67, 68 (1965).
Blacks and mixed race people were prosecuted for rape much more than were Whites for two basic reasons: according to the law Blacks and mixed race people could not testify against a White person in court; and rape by a White man was not looked down upon during these time periods.24 The author takes a historical approach to interracial sex and marriage and how these two actions were perceived in Virginia. 40 Vladimir Piskacek & Marlene Golub, Children of Interracial Marriages, Interracial Marriage: Expectations and Realities, 51, 57 (1973).
Black woman who produced mixed race children were not seen as assaulting the White race because they were unable to produce White children, thus did not effect the White race.23 Lastly, the article discusses prosecution of rape in Virginia.
With classification, people were given certain rights and privileges.
If a person was White, they received the rights and privileges; if they were Black or of the mixed race they received nothing.
As time progressed the fines and penalties decreased, but their historical effects on children were severe and long lasting. After slavery was abolished the Virginians needed other mechanisms to preserve racial hierarchy and so laws regarding interracial sex and marriage were introduced.
The article does an excellent job of laying out the history of interracial marriages, the politics, laws, and court systems behind such marriages, and how the law viewed mixed race children. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Racial Purity and Interracial Sex in the Law of Colonial and Antebellum Virginia, 77 Geo. The author states there are two basic concerns which lead to the laws on interracial sex and marriage: maintenance of a clear boundary line in a society that was based on slavery; the protection of involuntary interracial sex (rape).21 A statutory definition of race arose because of one essential factor-how should the mixed race offspring of these couples be classified.