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The Construction of WhitenessAn Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of a White Identity$
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Stephen Middleton, David R. Roediger, and Donald M. Shaffer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496805553

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496805553.001.0001

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The Battle Over Racial Identity in Popular and Legal Cultures, 1810–1860

The Battle Over Racial Identity in Popular and Legal Cultures, 1810–1860

(p.11) 1 The Battle Over Racial Identity in Popular and Legal Cultures, 1810–1860
The Construction of Whiteness

Stephen Middleton

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter challenges the view of legal historians that the “one-drop rule” did not exist before the early twentieth century. It argues that the one-drop rule was enforced in white culture and entered the opinions of local judges during the early nineteenth century. Middleton shows that trial courts and circuit courts, while they are not the final authority on the law, frequently used one-drop language in racial identity cases. He also provides evidence illustrating that these judges frequently told juries that if a mixed race person had any black blood whatsoever, they should be looked upon as black.

Keywords:   The “one drop rule”, Legal history, Miscegenation, Hypo-descent, Mixed race person

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