White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South / Edition 1

White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South / Edition 1

by Martha Hodes
     
 

This book is the first to explore the history of a powerful category of illicit sex in America's past: liaisons between Southern white women and black men. Martha Hodes tells a series of stories about such liaisons in the years before the Civil War, explores the complex ways in which white Southerners tolerated them in the slave South, and shows how and why these… See more details below

Overview

This book is the first to explore the history of a powerful category of illicit sex in America's past: liaisons between Southern white women and black men. Martha Hodes tells a series of stories about such liaisons in the years before the Civil War, explores the complex ways in which white Southerners tolerated them in the slave South, and shows how and why these responses changed with emancipation. Hodes provides details of the wedding of a white servant-woman and a slave man in 1681, on antebellum rape accusation that uncovered a relationship between an unmarried white woman and a slave, and a divorce plea from a white farmer based on an adulterous affair between his wife and a neighborhood slave. Drawing on sources that include courtroom testimony, legislative petitions, pardon pleas, and congressional testimony, she presents the voices of the authorities, eyewitnesses, and the transgressors themselves - and these voices seem to say that in the slave South, whites were not overwhelmingly concerned about such liaisons, beyond the racial and legal status of the children that were produced. Only with the advent of black freedom did the issue move beyond neighborhood dramas and into the arena of politics, becoming a much more serious taboo than it had ever been before. Hodes gives vivid examples of the violence that followed the upheaval of war, when black men and white women were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and unprecedented white rage and terrorism against such liaisons began to erupt. An era of terror and lynchings was inaugurated, and the legacy of these sexual politics lingered well into the twentieth century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300077506
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
734,966
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.14(h) x 0.92(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments, ix,
1 Telling the Stories, 1,
Part One Neighborhood Dramas,
2 Marriage Nell Butler and Charles, 19,
3 Bastardy Polly Lane and Jim, 39,
4 Adultery Dorothea Bourne and Edmond, 68,
5 Color Slavery, Freedom, and Ancestry, 96,
Part Two Escalating Violence,
6 Wartime New Voices and New Dangers, 125,
7 Politics Racial Hierarchy and Illicit Sex, 147,
8 Murder Black Men, White Women, and Lynching, 176,
Epilogue, 209,
Searching for Stories A Note on Sources, 211,
Notes, 213,
Bibliography, 287,
Index, 327,

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