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The Devil's LaneSex and Race in the Early South$
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Catherine Clinton and Michele Gillespie

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195112436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112436.001.0001

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“False, Feigned, and Scandalous Words” Sexual Slander and Racial Ideology Among Whites in Colonial North Carolina

“False, Feigned, and Scandalous Words” Sexual Slander and Racial Ideology Among Whites in Colonial North Carolina

Chapter:
(p.139) 10 “False, Feigned, and Scandalous Words” Sexual Slander and Racial Ideology Among Whites in Colonial North Carolina
Source:
The Devil's Lane
Author(s):

Kirsten Fischer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195112436.003.0010

This chapter examines European American's ideas about race in North Carolina's expanding of the slave society. The damaging rumors of illicit sex that European settlers circulated about each other reflected and reinforced the racial ideology by which they identified themselves as “white” and as distinct from African Americans. Slanderers who used allegations of interracial sex to malign their wealthier neighbors or to denigrate white women as “whores,” melded together notions of race, class, and gender, implicating each concept in the construction of the others. This chapter discusses in particular how demonstrations of insulting allegations of illicit sex through slander suits aided the construction of racialist thought among European Americans. In the context of North Carolina's growing slave economy, sexual slurs bolstered the racism that accompanied the entrenchment of slavery and this provides a window into the intertwined workings of racial, class, and gender hierarchies.

Keywords:   sexual slander, racial ideology, whites, colonial North Carolina, European Americans, slave economy

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