jefferson's blood
homevideo reportsis it true?jefferson enigmaslaves' storychronologyview the story

Quiz
Jump to question 4
Answer: Interracial marriage became legal in all 50 American states in 1998 when South Carolina voted to permit it.

The first black slaves landed in Virginia in 1619. In 1630 an angry Virginia court sentenced "Hugh Davis to be soundly whipped, before an assembly of Negroes and others for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and the shame of Christians, by defiling his body in lying with a Negro." Maryland was the first state to ban interracial marriages in 1664. Jefferson's state, Virginia, prohibited all interracial liaisons in 1691, vigorously denouncing miscegenation and its fruits as "that abominable mixture and spurious issue."

More recently, some 45 percent of all white Americans surveyed in 1994 said that they "approve" of intermarriage --an all-time high-- but most still express some reservations about it, and 16 percent would ban it outright.

The last state to legalize interracial marriage was South Carolina in November 1998. It amended its constitution to repeal a clause banning "marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood." The clause is, of course, a dead letter, and has been ever since 1967 when the Supreme Court found anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional. In that November 1998 vote, 62 percent of South Carolinians voted to permit interracial marriage; 38 percent voted to keep it illegal.

Explore the "Mixed Race America" section of this site.


4. Martha Wayles, the wife of Thomas Jefferson, was Sally Hemings's...?

·  Sister
·  Half-sister
·  Aunt
·  Grandmother

home ·  view the report ·  is it true? ·  the jefferson enigma ·  the slaves' story ·  mixed race america
special video reports ·  discussion ·  links ·  quiz ·  chronology ·  gene map
interviews ·  synopsis ·  tapes ·  teacher's guide ·  press
FRONTLINE ·  pbs online ·  wgbh

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation


SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Solitary NationApril 22nd

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS