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Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy$
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Kyle G. Volk

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199371914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199371914.001.0001

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Mixed Marriages, Motley Schools, and the Struggle for Racial Equality

Mixed Marriages, Motley Schools, and the Struggle for Racial Equality

Chapter:
(p.101) 4 Mixed Marriages, Motley Schools, and the Struggle for Racial Equality
Source:
Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy
Author(s):

Kyle G. Volk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199371914.003.0005

This chapter reveals how racial amalgamation (racial mixture) became the third moral problem that provoked crucial debates about majority rule and minority rights in the 1840s. It shows how, beginning in Massachusetts, abolitionists challenged the long-standing legal ban on interracial marriage and policies of segregating black and white children in public schools. Defenders insisted that these measures properly prevented amalgamation and were supported in true democratic fashion by the overwhelming majority. At town meetings, in courtrooms, in newspapers, and elsewhere, however, black activists and white abolitionists painted race regulations as markers of inequality. To them, equality was a hallmark of democracy that no majority, no matter how large, could contravene in public policy. This chapter follows the struggle from grass-roots challenges to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and eventually to the 1855 state law that ended de jure school segregation, the first in the nation.

Keywords:   racial amalgamation, majority rule, minority rights, interracial marriage, school segregation, equality, inequality, abolitionists

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