Family Money: Property, Race, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century

Family Money: Property, Race, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century

by Jeffory Clymer


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Family Money explores the histories of formerly enslaved women who tried to claim inheritances left to them by deceased owners, the household traumas of mixed-race slaves, post-Emancipation calls for reparations, and the economic fallout from anti-miscegenation marriage laws. Authors ranging from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frank Webb, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, to Lydia Maria Child recognized that intimate interracial relationships took myriad forms, often simultaneously-sexual, marital, coercive, familial, pleasurable, and painful. Their fiction confirms that the consequences of these relationships for nineteenth-century Americans meant thinking about more than the legal structure of racial identity. Who could count as family (and when), who could own property (and when), and how racial difference was imagined (and why) were emphatically bound together. Demonstrating that notions of race were entwined with economics well beyond the direct issue of slavery, Family Money reveals interracial sexuality to be a volatile mixture of emotion, economics, and law that had dramatic, long-term financial consequences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199897704
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2012
Series: Oxford Studies in American Literary History Series , #1
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Jeffory Clymer is Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and the author of America's Culture of Terrorism: Violence, Capitalism and the Written Word (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Family Money

Chapter 1 36
"This Most Illegal Family": Sex, Slavery, and the Politics of Inheritance

Chapter 2 97
Blood, Truth, and Consequences: Partus Sequitur Ventrem and the Problem of Legal Title

Chapter 3 162
Plantation Heiress Fiction, Slavery, and the Properties of White Marriage

Chapter 4 222
Reparations for Slavery and Lydia Maria Child's Reconstruction of the Family

Chapter 5 279
The Properties of Marriage in Chesnutt and Hopkins

Coda 333
"Race Feeling"

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