Property Rites: The Rhinelander Trial, Passing, and the Protection of Whiteness

Property Rites: The Rhinelander Trial, Passing, and the Protection of Whiteness

by Elizabeth M. Smith-Pryor
     
 

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In 1925 Leonard Rhinelander, the youngest son of a wealthy New York society family, sued to end his marriage to Alice Jones, a former domestic servant and the daughter of a "colored" cabman. After being married only one month, Rhinelander pressed for the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds that his wife had lied to him about her racial background. The

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Overview

In 1925 Leonard Rhinelander, the youngest son of a wealthy New York society family, sued to end his marriage to Alice Jones, a former domestic servant and the daughter of a "colored" cabman. After being married only one month, Rhinelander pressed for the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds that his wife had lied to him about her racial background. The subsequent marital annulment trial became a massive public spectacle, not only in New York but across the nation-despite the fact that the state had never outlawed interracial marriage.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Offers a fascinating thesis of why so many white Americans in the 1920s had become anxious about the concept of passing.--Flavour Magazine

Smith-Pryor's narrative of the trial and precipitating events is compelling. . . She delineates the complex past of the Jones family . . . with care and skill." --African American Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807832684
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Edition description:
1
Pages:
408
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Property Rites is a fascinating, wonderfully well-rounded account of the notorious Rhinelander trial. Smith-Pryor does a particularly fine job of explicating the strategies of each of the lawyers, explaining the context of divorce and annulment law in New York, and highlighting the significance of property in protecting whiteness.--Peggy Pascoe, author of What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America

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