By the 20 century, any known presence of African ancestry (the “one-drop rule”) became the measure in many states and in the white public’s imagination.
Instead of prejudice lessening over time, whites grew increasingly paranoid about marrying someone with “invisible blackness” and took up genealogy en masse to ferret out “passers.” A Ku Klux Klan flyer published in 1972 promoting the idea that race mixing would threaten America’s wellbeing (left).
The far more chilling effect of irrational white fears over miscegenation, however, emerged outside of the court system: lynching.
Aiming to cost Lincoln and his party the 1864 election, two Democrats (posing as Republicans) promoted the notion that the Republican Party not only condoned interracial marriages, but actively encouraged them.
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Much has been written about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry since they announced their engagement on Nov. The couple is already breaking the royal family status quo by Markle being previously divorced, and an American marrying into the British Royal family. BEFORE THE CROWN: See photos on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle before they were royals The pair was praised for their openness and have been hailed as an inspiration for mixed-couples and bi-racial people across the globe.
He was right, however, that the distinction between black and white would not be simple.
States’ definitions of the degree of “blood quantum” required to be defined as being a particular race varied over time and place.