The colour of Love

Confessedly, as a class, the quadroon women of New Orleans are the most beautiful in America. Their personal attractions are not only irresistible, but they have, in general, the best blood of America in their veins. They are mostly white in complexion, and are, many of them, highly educated and accomplished; and yet, by the law of Louisiana, no man may marry a quadroon woman, unless he can prove that he, too, has African blood in his veins. A law involving a greater outrage on propriety, a more blasphemous trifling with the heart’s affections, and evincing a more contemptible tyranny, those who will look at the matter from the beginning to the end, will agree with me, could not possibly have been enacted.[…]

A planter, it seems, had fallen deeply in love with a charming quadroon girl. He desired to marry her; but the law forbade. What was he to do? To tarnish her honour was out of the question; he had too much himself to seek to tarnish hers. Here was a dilemma. But he was not to be foiled. What true heart will be, if there be any virtue in expedients?

      ”– –In love,
  His thoughts came down like a rushing stream.”

At last he got it. A capital thought, which could have crept out of no one’s brain, save that of a most desperate lover. He hit upon the expedient of extracting a little African blood from the veins of one of his slaves, and injecting it into his own. The deed done, the letter of the law was answered. He made proposals, was accepted, and they were married,–he being willing to risk his caste in obedience to a love higher and holier than any conventionalism which men have ever contrived to establish.

The American Prejudice Against Color by William G. Allen (1853).

One Comment

  • As a follow-up, read (as I have) “Kingsblood Royal” by Sinclair Lewis and “Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain.

    As Abraham Lincoln (is once supposed to have) said, “Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like.”

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