by Lisa Y. Henderson
State v. Harris Melton & Ann Byrd, 44 NC 49 (1852).
An indictment for fornication in Stanly Superior Court. The defendants pleaded not guilty and offered evidence of their marriage. “The controversy was concerning the color of the male defendant – the female being admitted to be white.” The law: “It shall not be lawful for any free negro or person of color to marry a white person; and any marriage hereafter solemnized or contracted between any free negro or free person of color and a white person, shall be null and void.”
It was admitted that Harris Melton was of Indian descent, and he argued that the Act above did not apply to persons descended from Indian ancestors. The Supreme Court, however, noted that it did not have to reach this issue because the jury had only found that Melton was of Indian blood, without determining to what degree. The law “could not have intended that the most remote taint of Indian blood” would void a marriage. As the jury had indicated that it did not know the degree of Melton’s Indian-ness, the verdict for defendants must be affirmed.
[…] https://ncfpc.net/2012/11/30/taint/ […]
How confusing it would of been for these Native Americans. First, the white people wanted to intermix the “Savages” so they would become “More Civilized” (Quoting). Then they decided that this was illegal? Uuuugh!
The fact that I just discovered the Native Americans were called Mulatto or Negros threw off my whole genealogy tree. I thought it to be possible but, were too many in my tree (As I’m looking at my thick & straight dark Hair! Lol.) My Father Commented That we came over During the great Migration. He commented on the possibilities. But, said “highly unlikely”!
Thank you for this post! The Information provided sure helps!
There is an unfortunate tendency — both then and now — to believe somehow that a person of mixed Indian and white ancestry is still Indian, while a person of mixed Indian and African ancestry is not. The designation of an Indian-descended person as “free mulatto” might have been racist, but it was not necessarily arbitrary. They weren’t simply “called” free mulatto. (And designation as “free negro” — I’m betting — surely meant that, phenotypically, the person displayed African ancestry.)
It has been a long time since my comment was made. your follow up was in 2013! I have learned many things since then. Yes, I do have some African ancestry. It’s unfortunate for me because my DNA goes back 60,000 years ago. which makes me such a mixed variety of people. That I have no culture to call my own.
Please forgive me for my poor grammar and fragmented sentences.