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

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 ...

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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Offers other fascinating discussions of the ways in which shifting notions of middle-class manhood, courtship practices, and acceptable sexual behavior, affected the course of the trial. . . . An illuminating and engaging read that is particularly suitable for an undergraduate classroom.--History News Network
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807832684
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Smith-Pryor is assistant professor of history at Kent State University. She practiced law in New York for six years.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1 Curious Acts 11

2 "All Mixed Up" in New York 40

3 The Trial Begins 59

4 Passing and the "Seemingly Absurd Question" of Race 89

5 Defending the Citadel of Whitness from the "Awful Stain" 112

6 The Trial Continues: Degeneracy, Modern Love, and "Filthy Letters" 133

7 "Poor Little Cupid" and the Marriage Contract 157

8 Blind Love and the Visibility of Race 184

9 The Trial Ends 213

Conclusion 239

Notes 253

Bibliography 341

Index 373

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