Chapter

Crimes of Love, Misdemeanors of Passion The Regulation of Race and Sex in the Colonial South

Paul Finkelman

in The Devil's Lane

Published in print June 1997 | ISBN: 9780195112436
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854271 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112436.003.0009
Crimes of Love, Misdemeanors of Passion The Regulation of Race and Sex in the Colonial South

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In the beginning of the period of European settlement, sexual activity in the South was multiracial. In the first years of the Virginia colony almost all the settlers were male. This was generally true in other southern colonies as well. This first colony led the way in stigmatizing and criminalizing love, and sometimes sex, between the races. The success of laws punishing race mixing seems clear. Hostility to interracial marriage and children of mixed ancestry grew during the 18th century. So too did the female population. The social norms and legal prohibitions that Virginia created in the 17th century remained viable for more than two centuries in the Old Dominion and throughout the South. Virginia's early laws criminalizing interracial marriages proved to be the most durable legacy of the colonial response to race.

Keywords: race; sex; Virginia; colonial South; love; 18th century; interracial marriage; mixed ancestry; Old Dominion

Chapter.  5970 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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