March 26, 1864: Miscegenation Mania

The Miscegenation Ball

In December, 1863, two Democratic reporters wrote a lengthy pamphlet titled “Miscegenation: the theory of the blending of the races, applied to the American White Man and Negro.” The pamphlet was published anonymously, purporting to be by an abolitionist who advocated interracial marriage. The word “miscegenation” was coined by the authors for the purpose. While by today’s standards, the pamphlet actually makes some valid arguments — outcrossing does confer hybrid vigor, as Halle Berry and Tiger Woods can testify — but at the time it should have been seen as outrageous parody. Instead, it was accepted as genuine by both sides. Racists both north and south were incensed, while actual abolitionists just advised caution in promulgating such radical ideas.

The New York Times didn’t take the issue very seriously, rightly considering that widespread intermarriage between the races was unlikely to be a problem in the near term. And of course, its own satirical response is dripping with the racism that was endemic to virtually all whites in the US at the time.

What Are We Coming To, and When Shall We Reach It?

The pressure on our space of other matter has prevented us from recurring to the serious and important topic of “Miscegenation.” We regret very much, however, having allowed our attention to be even temporarily diverted from it, as we find from the earnest discussion which it is receiving at the hands of our contemporaries, that it has lost none of its importance. In fact, if we are to believe what we hear, especially from the recognized and authoritative organs of the Democratic party, the rage for marrying black people, which has taken possession of the Republican party, is rather on the increase. It is said, we know not with what truth, that the Union League Club has fitted up a night-bell at its door in Union-square, and keeps a black minister on the premises, who marries all couples of different colors at any hour of the day or night. An effort is said to have been made by the leaders of the party to stave off these alliances until after the meeting of the Convention next July, when the campaign would have fairly commenced; but it was all in vain. The radicals have carried everything before them, and, if things go on at their present rate, it is feared that in three months every white man who is not connected by marriage with a colored family, will be “read out” of the party. The gusto with which the young people go into this insane movement is something at once disgusting and alarming. Two duels are said to have been already fought about one middle-aged black washerwomen, the rivals being young men of the best society; and those families whose colored servants have remained with them up to the present, have been compelled to give them notice, owing to the crowds of wealthy but degraded white men who throng the basement for the purpose of soliciting the honor (!) of their hands. We shrink from putting on paper the stories which reach us as to the prevalence amongst young white ladies of a preference for colored men — pure blacks having the precedence in all cases where there is room for choice. We will only say that there will very soon be hardly a family in the City belonging to the Republican persuasion, which will not be glorying in the possession of a negro son-in-law; and what is most horrible about the matter is, that a fund has been raised by members of the Loyal League for the transportation from the South, of colored beaux and belles, with the truly fiendish design of guarding against the possibility of an exhaustion of the supply in this quarter.

It may readily be imagined that it is with great reluctance that we speak out our minds in this matter. But we have no hesitation in saying that if we had at the outset conceived it possible that hostility to Slavery would ever have led to wholesale intermarriage with negroes, or of all marriageable Republicans and their sisters, that party should never have received any countenance or support from this journal. We owe it to ourselves and posterity to say that the odious matrimonial arrangements, into which so many of those whose opinions on certain great questions of public policy we have hitherto shared, have taken us wholly by surprise.

In fact the idea of a large body of men or women marrying at all, not to speak of marrying negresses for the mere purpose of helping their party in a presidential campaign, or propagating any “views,” either in religion, morals, or physiology, never entered our heads. We now see, and confess our error and deplore it.

The question of course which naturally suggests itself to every right-minded white man and woman, is. Where is this thing to end? Whither are we tending? What is to be done to stop this most unnatural and detestable movement. For it is as plain as a pikestaff that if it continues, there will be soon no whites left in this once great and prosperous country. We shall all be mulattoes, and be afflicted with all the peculiarities both mental and physical of that unhappy race. The signs of this great and terrible change already begin to make themselves manifest in our streets; for the most careless observer who walks down Broadway, can hardly fail to observe the appearance on a vast number of faces of the well-known brownish tinge. Let that tinge once become general, and then “farewell, a long farewell to all our whiteness!”

There is but one quarter — and we are not ashamed to own it — to which, in our opinion, we can look for either help or comfort at this crisis, and that is to the great, old, truly National Democratic party. It has its faults; nobody has been forced to call attention to them oftener than we; but it has never yet proved false to its race, and we are satisfied that whatever can be done now will be done by it to preserve the purity of our blood. We mentioned a few days ago the steps taken by the “Society for the Diffusion of Political Information;” but these steps, important as they were, were but preliminaries to still more energetic action. Bishop HOPKINS, we are glad to say, has arrived in town; Professor MORSE was already here; Mr. JAMES BROOKS and the Count JOANNES are on their way, and the negrophilists and their dusky paramours -we will not honor them with the sacred name of husband or wife — already begin to tremble. We believe we are not violating any confidence in stating that the learned and able Dr. RANDOLPH, the Bowery Spiritual Medium, who preaches “the gospel according to JOHN C. CALHOUN” in that region on Sundays, and the author of the great work on “Miscegenation,” has been elected an honorary member of that body, and will aid it at this juncture by his invaluable counsel and cooperation.

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