April 29, 2011
Footnote of the Day: Marriage in the Colonies
Apropos of today's "royal wedding" in Great Britain, the Court in Loving v. Virginia (1967) offered a footnote explaining marital practices in a former colony. In footnote 4, the Court first quoted the Virginia miscegenation statute at issue in Loving:
Intermarriage prohibited; meaning of term "white persons." -- It shall hereafter be unlawful for any white person in this State to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American Indian. For the purpose of this chapter, the term "white person" shall apply only to such person as has no trace whatever of any blood other than Caucasian; but persons who have one-sixteenth or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other non-Caucasic blood shall be deemed to be white persons. All laws heretofore passed and now in effect regarding the intermarriage of white and colored persons shall apply to marriages prohibited by this chapter.
Va.Code Ann. § 20-54 (1960 Repl. Vol.).
The Court then continued:
The exception for persons with less than one-sixteenth "of the blood of the American Indian" is apparently accounted for, in the words of a tract issued by the Registrar of the State Bureau of Vital Statistics, by "the desire of all to recognize as an integral and honored part of the white race the descendants of John Rolfe and Pocathontas. . . ." [citations omitted].
Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 5 n.4 (1967).
[image: statute of Pocahontas at Jamestown, Virginia, via]
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