XKCD 1431: Marriage
Incredible stats from XKCD. I had no idea interracial marriage wasn’t legal everywhere in the States until as late as the time of the moon landings (well, nearly).
I know Civil Rights and race relations were terrible in many states for so long, but never realised this extended to literally making interracial marriage illegal. For it to be frowned upon I would have expected, but specifically banned?! And that’s important - it wasn’t that couples didn’t yet have the right because nobody in power had got round to legislating for it - the problem was they were outright banned from marrying. This article on wikipedia is fascinating.
It has been argued that the first laws banning all marriage between whites and blacks, enacted in Virginia and Maryland [in the 1660s], were a response by the planter elite to the problems they were facing due to the socio-economic dynamics of the plantation system in the Southern colonies.
However, the bans in Virginia and Maryland were established at a time when slavery was not yet fully institutionalized. At the time, most forced laborers on the plantations were indentured servants, and they were mostly white.
Some historians have suggested that the at-the-time unprecedented laws banning interracial marriage were originally invented by planters as a divide-and-rule tactic after the uprising of servants in Bacon’s Rebellion.
According to this theory, the ban on interracial marriage was issued to split up the racially mixed, increasingly mixed-race labor force into whites, who were given their freedom, and blacks, who were later treated as slaves rather than as indentured servants. By outlawing interracial marriage, it became possible to keep these two new groups separated and prevent a new rebellion.
And look at that approval rating when these laws were struck down in 1967. Appalling, yet reassuring that despite apparent* US hatred of anything “liberal” they’ve made leaps and bounds over the last half-century.
Well done Americans, don’t let the crazies steer you off course.
*apparent to the average European who probably hears too much of the crazy things said in the US by rent-a-quotes on Fox News, and less of the reasonable things said by normal people in real life.