Miscegenation of the Races
For Americans, legal and social proscriptions against interracial sex is as old as America itself. Beginning in the colonial period, local laws forbade cohabitation between the races. Violators incurred punishments ranging from public beatings, penance, to banishment. Ohio also adopted this social value, although the legislature did not ratify a law against interracial sex until 1861. It also prohibited interracial marriages. There is no evidence that Ohio miscegenation law predated the 1861 statute. This was probably not an over sight. The black laws, like slavery, were so overwhelmingly oppressive that state lawmakers doubted that further legislation was necessary. When the racial code of Ohio relaxed in 1849, some whites feared the prospect of racial mixing. Consequently, the Ohio assembly adopted a law. However, state and federal law did not stop interracial mixing. Laws against miscegenation appeared frequently in the Old Northwest, suggesting that they did little to stop interracial sex. Ohio officials continued to frown on social relations between the races during the Reconstruction period, when federal and state governments adopted civil rights statutes.
An act to prevent the amalgamation of the white and colored races. Approved January 31, 1861, Laws of Ohio.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That hereafter it shall be unlawful for any person of pure white blood to intermarry with or have illicit carnal intercourse with any negro, or person having a distinct and visible admixture of African blood; or for any negro or