"A superior colored man ... and a Scotch woman": interracial marriages in New York City, 1850-1870.
The marriage of John and Ellen Davis was one between a white woman and an African-American man, a Scottish immigrant and a native New Yorker, and two working class laborers. While one might assume that such relationships were rare in the nineteenth century, a close examination of United States Manuscript Census Records in New York City for 1850, 1860, and 1870 indicates that such interracial, cross-cultural marriages constituted five to seven percent of married couples living in predominantly black neighborhoods. The number of interracial marriages varied over the twenty year period under investigation but skyrocketed following the Civil War. Census records indicate that there were 29 interracial marriages in 1850, 19 in 1860, and 116 in 1870. The vast majority of such relationships occurred between black men and white women often between an African-American male born in the United States and a woman who had immigrated from Europe, most of whom were Irish, Scottish, or English. (2) While mixed-race couples in different regions and in different eras faced tremendous resistance, such couples were not uncommon in mid-nineteenth-century New York City. Interracial couples often married in black churches in New York, worked in the city, sent their children to local African schools, and successfully interacted with government institutions, including pension officials, local court representatives, and census takers.
This article examines why such interracial relationships were not unusual to New York City from 1850 to 1870. A number of factors contributed to these unions. Interracial relationships met three criteria that reflected ideas about race, class, and gender during this era. First, these relationships were almost exclusively between immigrant women from Scotland and Ireland and native-born African-American men. They did not take on the taint of improper behavior because these immigrant women were not perceived to be "white." (3) Second, these relationships generally occurred between people of the same class background and between individuals who lived in close proximity to one another in working class neighborhoods. As a consequence, these relationships did not cross class lines and did not violate ideas about proper behavior within a certain class. Third, since these immigrant women were not held to middle class gender standards such liaisons did not infringe on ideals of proper female behavior in the mid-nineteenth century.
Scholars have long discussed the incidence of interracial marriage in the nineteenth century. Such studies have usually focused on the prevalence of such unions in the American South. These works have examined how such relationships fit into the racial caste system in an agricultural society and how they shed light on ideas regarding proper gender roles. (4) As part of the wave of new scholarship on such relationships, historian Martha Hodes, in White Women, Black Men (1997), argues that interracial relationships in the South were not always illicit affairs. She proves, in fact, that such relationships did not meet with widespread public and legal resistance until the 1850s. (5) In contrast, an examination of interracial relationships in northern cities during the nineteenth century raises many issues unique to the North. An analysis of interracial relationships in the North calls into question ideas about immigrant and black interactions, highlights the experiences of people from similar backgrounds, and sheds light on gender roles for women from all class backgrounds. (6)
During the mid-nineteenth century, African Americans flooded into New York City. With the passage of the 1827 Gradual Emancipation Act, which put an end to slavery in New York, free African Americans founded schools, published newspapers, built churches, and raised funds for community institutions. Although most blacks were relegated to jobs as waiters, servants, and laborers, a small black middle class emerged, comprised of teachers, ministers, and doctors. In the antebellum era, African Americans agitated for political rights in spite of a state law that required property in order to vote, virtually disfranchising all black men. Black New Yorkers knew that racism limited their lives and labors but they also believed that this discrimination was temporary. They clung to the hope that the end of Southern slavery would improve their economic, social, and political position. (7)
New York City was a hotbed of black activism where African Americans battled the twin evils of Northern racism and Southern slavery. The community fought for the civil rights of all African Americans and believed that no black was truly free as long as the institution of slavery existed anywhere in the United States. New York City was home to one of the largest free black populations in the mid-nineteenth century with 13,815 blacks residing in the city in 1850, 12,574 in 1860, and 13,072 in 1870. (8) Blacks lobbied for emancipation through protests, boycotts of items produced by slave labor, and the publication of pamphlets and newspapers. In 1827, Samuel Cornish founded the nation's first black newspaper, Freedom's Journal, to promote the abolition of slavery. Articles in his newspaper described the horrors of slavery in an effort to garner support for the abolitionist cause. In 1835, black New Yorkers organized the Committee of Vigilance, a community-based association to prevent the kidnapping of free blacks. The Committee sheltered Frederick Douglass after his escape from servitude in Maryland in 1838. It also Offered aid to many other fugitive slaves who sought anonymity in the crowded streets of the city. At the same time, a vocal group of black New Yorkers opposed colonization plans promoted by the American Colonization Society as well as the 1850 emigration proposal put forth by Martin Delany, a local black leader. African Americans in New York City viewed America as their home and believed that racism would end when the institution of slavery was abolished. (9)
Meanwhile, African Americans had to cope with a wave of immigrants from Ireland that entered the city and began to compete with the black population for jobs, housing, and political power. Between 1821 and 1850, one million Irish immigrated to New York. (10) In New York City, the Irish immigrant population jumped from 133,730 in 1850 to 204,000 in 1860. Indeed, by 1855 one-quarter of the population of Manhattan and Brooklyn was born in Ireland. (11) The Frederick Douglass Paper took note of the impact of this large number of Irish immigrants on the city's black population:
The floods of emigration that have flowed in upon us for the last ten or fifteen years--in fact, directly on the heels of the emancipation acts, by the different northern States, were evidently opened with the view of supplying the places of the colored people, and have ever since tended greatly to that end. (12)
As Irish immigrants flooded into New York City, they settled in the poorest neighborhoods, primarily in the Fourth and Sixth Wards, which also had high proportions of black populations. Irish immigrants quickly found work in the lowliest jobs in the city, the only sector where they could find employment. Irish men overwhelmingly worked as laborers while women took jobs as domestic servants. These positions were most commonly held by blacks until the wave of Irish immigration pushed them out of such occupations and into lowlier jobs. The Irish in New York City built a strong community by establishing churches and benevolent societies. They also exercised their right to vote which was granted to all white men in 1827 and threw their support behind local Democrats. Irish soldiers also joined a volunteer militia--the 69th Infantry Regiment--to fight in the Civil War. (13)
Blacks and Irish immigrants lived together in New York City and, in many respects, did so peacefully. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, New York City's neighborhoods were racially heterogeneous and racial lines were quite fluid. (14) Class, rather than race, defined residential patterns prior to the Civil War. Nonetheless, certain neighborhoods had large clusters of blacks. African-American New Yorkers tended to reside on the Lower West Side of the city. Irish immigrants and blacks lived together in the Fourth and Sixth Wards. In 1851, city planners formed the Twentieth Ward from a section of the Sixteenth Ward. A large number of blacks subsequently moved to this neighborhood, located north of the original areas settled by blacks. In 1853, the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Wards were formed and, twenty years later, the city annexed the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Wards from Westchester County. (15) The population of African Americans thus shifted during the nineteenth century as blacks moved from the area around Greenwich Village northward.
In addition to living together in the same neighborhoods, there is evidence that blacks and immigrants sometimes lived together as roommates. Occasionally, unmarried African-American women resided with single Irish women. In mid-nineteenth-century New York City, two to three percent of black households contained black and white roommates. (16) Quite often, these interracial roommate situations took place between women who shared employment. In 1860, for example, forty-year-old Susan Miller lived in the Fifth Ward with her nineteen-year-old daughter. The Miller women shared their living space and work as washerwomen with an Irish immigrant named Ellen Dugan. (17) Twenty-six-year-old Ann Johnson left Delaware and moved to New York City in 1824. Described by officials as a "yellow woman" she lived on Augustus Street where she rented a room. When asked about her marital status, Johnson replied that she was "single and never was married." She did not live alone, however. "Ann Carr, a white woman, and Betsey Slowley, a white woman, live with me," noted Johnson. (18) This suggests that racial lines were sometimes fluid for black and white workingwomen in mid-nineteenth-century New York City.
Despite fluid racial lines that allowed blacks and Irish immigrants to live in the same neighborhoods and sometimes share living quarters, there were many incidents that reflected tensions between these two groups. The relationship between African Americans and Irish immigrants in mid-nineteenth-century New York City was a complex one, neither completely harmonious nor completely acrimonious. Tensions between the groups erupted primarily around issues of employment.
All black New Yorkers endured racial discrimination that limited their employment opportunities as well as their earning potential. Citywide legislation and local custom often banned African-American men and women from certain occupations. White carters forbade black men to compete with them for the lucrative positions of moving goods on carts because whites feared that African Americans would undercut their prices. (19) Sometimes such discrimination turned violent. In March 1863, for example, a gang of Irishmen attacked African-American porters, cart men, and laborers with whom they competed for work. Similarly, white longshoremen threatened African-American men seeking employment on the docks. (20) According to the New York Evening Post, "[t]he cause of the difficulty was the fact that negroes were employed on the docks, and white laborers, who were principally Irishmen, objected. To-day they undertook to beat the negroes." (21) In addition to the racism that curtailed African Americans' employment opportunities, blacks also faced discrimination in transportation that limited the places where they could work. Streetcar and omnibus drivers refused seats to blacks and allowed them to ride only on a segregated basis. At times, drivers physically expelled black passengers from buses by threatening them with whips. (22)
Blacks found themselves employed in the lowliest jobs. Most black men worked in service jobs as waiters, day laborers, and porters. In 1860, seventy-six percent of freedmen held such jobs located at the bottom of the occupational ladder. Twenty percent of employed black men held skilled jobs as carpenters, basket makers, and barbers while freedmen found themselves virtually barred from professional occupations as ministers, doctors, and teachers. Only four percent of black workingmen held such occupations in 1860. (23) Moreover, black men often held seasonal jobs as mariners, seaman, or laborers and, as a result, suffered from lulls in their work during part of the year. (24)
African-American women faced additional limitations in their job opportunities on the basis of their race as well as their sex. As many white workingwomen began to perform outwork jobs as milliners and box makers, these trades barred free women of color from such employment. White women composed the vast majority of paper box makers, milliners, and mantilla makers while virtually no black women held such positions. In 1860, for example, only four African-American women worked as milliners in New York City. (25) Black women therefore found themselves allowed to work in only a handful of occupations including those of servant, washerwoman, and cook. Moreover, the jobs open to them provided wages lower than those outwork positions taken by white women. In 1869, milliners earned $7.50 per week as compared to the $2.50 that servants earned. (26) At a time when New York City shifted to a manufacturing economy, African-American women found themselves consigned to the dirtiest and worst-paying occupations on the outside of the new economic changes.
While such racial tensions over employment occurred, the number of interracial marriages between Irish immigrant women and African-American men increased. These unions did not go unnoticed and many people, including both black and white leaders, argued that interracial marriages should be prevented. Many African-American leaders thought that discussions concerning the legality and morality of interracial marriages diverted attention from fighting for civil rights. At the same time, numerous white reformers opposed interracial marriage because they simply believed that it was immoral. (27)
A number of white observers commented negatively on the incidence of interracial marriages in mid-nineteenth-century New York City. In his guide to city nightlife, journalist George Foster noted that interracial couples could be found throughout the' area known as Five Points in the Sixth Ward. Perhaps the most notorious neighborhood in the city, Five Points referred to the area where Park, Baxter, and Worth Streets converged. This area had a reputation for vice and crime as well as working-class interracial mingling. Originally, much of Five Points had been under water in what locals referred to as the Collect or the Fresh Water Pond. In the center of this pond stood a little island upon which English colonists had executed African Americans accused of participating in the slave insurrection of 1741. Due to its increasing pollution, the Common Council decided to fill in the pond in 1802 and subsequently sold the plots of land. This area of the Sixth Ward was very marshy and subject to floods when it rained. In spite of these physical conditions, landlords built numerous tenements in the area and subdivided them to accommodate as many tenants as possible. Because of their limited financial resources, many freed slaves settled there.
And when immigrants entered the city, many moved there as well. (28) Foster commented on the interracial relationships in the neighborhood, describing the black men as lascivious and the white women as prostitutes. "[M]ost of them have either white wives or white mistresses and sometimes both; and their influence in the community is commanding," he observed. (29)
The most infamous building in this neighborhood was the Old Brewery, a brewing plant that had been converted into housing in 1837. Upon entering the structure, one encountered a room referred to as the "Den of Thieves." Here "more than seventy-five men, women, and children, black and white, made their home, without furniture or conveniences," according to the Ladies of the Mission, a group of female reformers who wished to clean up Five Points in the 1850s. (30) These reformers portrayed interracial couples as crass and over-sexed. They noted that the inhabitants of the Old Brewery were evenly divided between African Americans and Irish immigrants who crowded into the rooms on the upper floors of the building as well as the cellar. The Old Brewery opened up to an alley known as Cow Bay, the site of numerous racial conflicts. (31) In describing the women in Cow Bay, Foster noted their promiscuity. "There were baskets, barrels, boxes, Irish women and sluttish house-keepers, white, black, yellow and brown; thickly crowding the walk...." (32) Fears of interracial mingling continued after the Civil War as indicated by a New York Times article about the status of the city's black population. In 1869, the newspaper ran a front-page article about the condition of the city's black population and noted the high incidence of miscegenation in African-American neighborhoods:
I was particularly struck with the fact that, whereas I found numerous cases of white women living with colored men, (one gentleman I came across luxuriating two, who happened to be fighting at the moment of my visit,) I did not find a single instance of a white man living with a colored woman; and strange to say, in all the cases of miscegenation which I met with, the women seemed to have picked out the lowest and most brutal-looking men that they could possibly find. (33)
As middle class reformers and journalists promoted a negative image of interracial marriage, black and white abolitionists debated the issue. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, abolitionists throughout the North called for the legalization of interracial marriages. (34) Leading abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Lydia Childs campaigned against a Massachusetts state law banning interracial marriages. (35) Although the statute was repealed, other states attempted to follow suit. The lower house of the state of Pennsylvania passed a similar act in 1841. (36)
Meanwhile, black leaders in New York City spoke out against the legalization of interracial marriages. In one of New York's prominent black newspapers, an editorial stated that "Our wiseacres may talks as much as they please, upon amalgamation, and our future standing in society, but it does not alter the case in the least; it does not improve our situation in the least...." (37) Another newspaper summed up the issue by stating that "the question is not to marry negroes, but to treat them with justice...." (38) One black leader in New York argued that African Americans simply sought civil rights and did not want to marry whites. He declared that "Abolitionists are not seeking the amalgamation of colors, nor do colored men desire it.... We do not desire amalgamation; give US OUR LIBERTY AND OUR RIGHTS, and keep your lasses and 'YOURSELVES' to yourselves--we want none of you, neither male nor female." (39) In another editorial, black leaders argued that, "We are heartily disgusted with the ridiculous cry of amalgamation! It is a mean, dishonest, ungodly resort of colonizationists, knaves, and fools and seems to be the only argument they are capable of using in defense of their corrupt system of slavery, their oppression and tyranny." (40) Many black leaders in New York City thus believed that the agitation for interracial marriage actually diverted attention from more important civil rights issues, particularly the abolition of slavery. (41)
In spite of these criticisms by black and white opponents of interracial marriage, the numbers of such unions increased dramatically in New York City between 1850 and 1870. And such marriages were often committed, loving relationships. Interracial couples worked in the black community, sent their children to African free schools, (42) and turned to one another for assistance in times of need. Although the vast majority of interracial couples were unions between members of the working class, there is some evidence that not all of these unions occurred between laboring people. Regardless of their class background, interracial couples lived in close proximity to one another. In 1850, for example, thirteen interracial couples all resided next to one another in the Eighth Ward. This trend continued in 1860 and 1870 as interracial couples clustered into the Fifth, Eighth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Wards. By 1870, interracial couples continued to reside in close proximity to each other but they had moved northward to the Sixteen and Twentieth Wards where an increasing number of blacks settled. (43)
Many interracial marriages occurred after the Civil War. Alexander Williams, a veteran of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry of the United States Colored Troops, met his white wife in New York City in 1878. The two married and Williams cared for his step-children and his new wife. Williams suffered from a number of war-related injuries incurred at the assault on Fort Wagner. Following their marriage, his injuries flared up and he appealed to the pension board for financial help. "My family and I have no money and my wife is sick," wrote Williams. "I am very bad off with my hands and I cannot work but very little each day I do get it that I work." Williams soon died, leaving his wife to fend for herself financially. She moved to Saratoga Springs to be closer to her grown children. "I am in need very much for a little money and I cannot do a days work now for I am broke down." (44) Another mixed-race family, George and Margaret Morris, resided in the Fifth Ward in 1850. He was from Washington, D.C. and she was born in Ireland. He worked as a waiter. An examination of census records indicates that the couple was still together and residing in New York City in 1870 with their three children--William (twenty-years-old), Margaret (ten-years-old), and Mary (seven-years-old). In 1870, George Morris reported that he was from Virginia, worked as a caterer, and owned taxable income in the amount of $2,000. (45)
There were some instances of race-based violence directed at interracial mixed-race couples and those supporting interracial marriage. In 1834, anti-abolitionist riots erupted in New York City, spurred by discussions about extending the right to vote to black men and legalizing interracial marriages. (46) Interestingly, the rioters were primarily professional and skilled workers and were from well-established New York families, suggesting that racist sentiment was rampant amongst all whites in the city. (47) In this instance, opposition to the extension of black rights came from the higher classes in the city rather than from the working class.
The most brutal case of race-based violence directed at interracial couples occurred during the 1863 New York City Draft Riots. The New York City Draft Riots, one of the bloodiest riots in American history, erupted on July 13, 1863. As the Civil War dragged on and the number of Union troops dwindled, the federal government hoped to increase its ranks through a draft. It excluded African-American men, who were not considered citizens, and exempted any man capable of paying a $300 commutation fee to obtain a waiver from military service. The first draft drawing occurred peacefully on Saturday, July 11, and the next one was scheduled for Monday, July 13. Shortly after dawn that day, white working-class men protested the draft by going on a looting spree throughout the city. Their actions became physically violent when they attacked Republican sympathizers and then turned against the African-American population. White mobs terrorized the city's blacks, beating them, ransacking their homes, setting fire to their buildings, and leveling their community institutions like the Colored Orphan Asylum. On Friday, July 17, Union troops returned from Gettysburg and managed to restore order. The rioters had murdered at least eleven African Americans, injured over thirty, and had driven two-thirds of the black population from the city. (48)
During this four-day melee, mobs targeted black men with whom they competed for jobs and also directed their attacks at white women involved with black men. James Costello, a black shoemaker who owned his own business, left his home on West Thirty-third Street on Tuesday morning, July 14, to attend to an errand. Pursued by a white man, Costello turned and shot at the man and fatally wounded him. A nearby crowd witnessed the incident and set upon Costello. The mob beat him to death and hanged him. They then cut down his body and dragged it through the gutters, hurled stones at it, and then set it on fire. The rioters then turned their attention to Costello's wife and children who managed to escape and find protection at a local police station. (49) Mobs also attacked J.W.C. Pennington, a teacher, minister, and leader of the black community. Pennington had left his home in the Sixteenth Ward days before the riot. Upon his return on Friday, July 17, he found that his home had been ransacked and pillaged. While investigating the remnants of his house, a mob attacked him with stones and brickbats shouting "Kill the damned black neager [sic]" and Pennington ran for his life. He later learned that, during the previous week, mobs had attacked the homes of all of his African-American neighbors. (50) Business owners like William Powell also suffered at the hands of the rioters. Mobs looted and burned his boardinghouse that catered to black sailors. Powell lost an estimated $3,000 worth of property during the attack. (51)
While mobs reserved their most heinous attacks for black men, they did occasionally direct their physical violence at women and, in some cases, Irish women joined in the rioting. A mob severely beat Mary Feeks, an African-American woman, just outside of her home. In another case, a mob attacked an old black woman living in the Sixth Ward. (52) An Irishwoman beat her elderly black neighbor, Elizabeth Anderson, who was later taken to New York Hospital. (53) On Thompson Street, a mob chased three black women from their home. They attacked one of the women who later died. (54)
Mobs also directed their attacks at white women involved in interracial relationships or with bi-racial children, suggesting that some of their anger was aimed at women who married across racial lines. The bloodiest violence against interracial couples occurred when rioters beat to death an Irish woman, Mrs. Derickson, who resided at 11 York Street with her mulatto son. (55) According to the 1850 federal census, William and Ann Derickson lived in the Fourteenth Ward with their young son, Alfred. William Derickson was a thirty-year-old African-American porter and his wife was a twenty-year-old immigrant from Ireland. In 1863, Alfred was fifteen or sixteen-years-old and employed as a butcher. Ann Derickson tried to protect her child from the attacks of the mob and, in so doing, died from injuries inflicted by the rioters. (56)
Mobs sought out other white women involved with black men. Mary Cisco resided on West 29th Street with her African-American husband and their three children. During the riot, the mob attacked her in her home and stole numerous items from her two-room apartment. (57) According to another report, four or five white women involved in interracial relationships sought relief. "In every instance, they had been severely dealt with by the mob. One Irish woman, Mrs. C. was so persecuted and shunned by every one, that when she called for aid, she was nearly insane." (58) Rioters also targeted boardinghouses, such as one located on Roosevelt Street, that catered to an interracial clientele. (59)
In spite of these attacks on white women involved with black men, the number of interracial marriages increased dramatically in the years following the riot. According to the 1870 census, over 100 interracial married couples resided in the city. These mixed-race marriages were not uncommon in mid-nineteenth-century New York City because such relationships did not violate accepted rules pertaining to race, class, and gender. In many respects, Irish immigrant women were not considered to be "white" and therefore their relationships were not viewed as being interracial. Studies of "whiteness" have argued that immigrant men sought to differentiate themselves from African Americans in northern cities by becoming "white." Historians David Roediger and Noel Ignatiev have argued that Irish immigrants in particular hoped to elevate their status in America by demonstrating that they were superior to the group with whom they competed for jobs: African Americans. The process of becoming "white" took place in the economic realm as well as through cultural differentiation. "Whiteness" scholars maintain that the Irish became white by cultivating a strong sense of racism towards blacks. This racism manifested itself in occasional outbreaks of violence directed at African Americans. It also was demonstrated in the workplace differentiation between white and black men. (60)
Because of their emphasis on the male workplace, studies of "whiteness" have necessarily focused on the experiences of immigrant men in their quest to gain acceptance in American society. In so doing, these works have ignored the experience of immigrant women. As immigrant men attempted to differentiate themselves from black male laborers in the nineteenth century, immigrant women felt no such pressure. Since Irish women were not considered to be "white," their marriages to black men did not violate any proper standards of racial behavior. (61) While Irish immigrant men were required to hate African-American men in order to fit within the proper behavior of whiteness, immigrant women were not held to such standards. (62)
The second reason why interracial marriage was generally accepted in mid-nineteenth-century New York City was because it almost always occurred between people of the same class standing. Most partners in interracial marriages worked jobs on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. At the same time, Irish women did not compete with black men for jobs so there was none of the animosity between them that existed between black and Irish men. Rather, Irish immigrant women pushed black women out of domestic jobs when they migrated in such large numbers during the 1840s and 1850s. (63) By 1855, three-quarters of domestic servants in New York City were Irish women. Women were part of the working class but not part of the labor relations of immigrant men. Moreover, the racially mixed working-class neighborhoods facilitated interactions between black men and immigrant women as poor immigrants and poor blacks clustered into the same wards. (64)
A final reason that explains why these relationships were hardly unusual was that Irish immigrant women adhered to different gender standards than middle class female reformers. Irish immigrant women were not expected to behave like middle class white women. Wealthier women were expected to adhere to gender ideals associated with the cult of domesticity which, in part, directed women to take charge of their family's home life. Women were expected to care for the children, provide for their education, and tend to the duties necessary to keep the home running smoothly. Men took care of activities outside the home, primarily work and politics. (65) Irish women, however, were highly independent, working in the labor market in large numbers. This gave them financial independence and offered them more opportunities to choose their mates. Irish women married much later in life than their native-born, middle class counterparts. They also outnumbered Irish immigrant men, comprising slightly more than half (fifty-three percent) of the Irish immigrant population that entered New York City between 1821 and 1850. (66) Because of these factors, Irish women did not feel compelled to behave like "proper" women. In spite of middle class directives to marry, focus on their families, and defer to their husbands, Irish women led independent lives. And part of that independence included the choice to marry across racial lines.
The incidence of interracial couples in mid-nineteenth-century New York City demonstrates that there was a brief period during which interracial marriages were hardly unusual. These relationships were forged between courageous women and men who faced race-based violence as well as discrimination. Such interracial unions occurred because these marriages met three important criteria: (1) they were not viewed as really being from different races; (2) they were both members of the same class; and, (3) because of their class status, immigrant women did not feel pressure to adhere to middle class gender ideals. Consequently, black men and Irish immigrant women married with relative ease in mid-nineteenth-century New York City.
(1) Civil War Pension Records (John Davis), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Hereafter cited as CWPR. To locate pension applications of African-American Civil War soldiers, I first compiled a list of black men who enlisted in the three New York City United States Colored Troops regiments, numbering over 100 enlistees. This information can be found at the National Archives in the Muster Rolls for United States Colored Troops (USCT), 26th, 20th, and 30th Regiments located in their Civil War records. The muster rolls are described by the National Archives and Records Administration as: "Bound record books for most (but not all) regiments, Record Group 94, entries 112-115." When complete, they include a regimental order card, company order books, a regimental descriptive book, company descriptive books, consolidated morning reports by company, a regimental letters sent book, and miscellaneous books. Most descriptive books were carded; other types of records were not. It is more a collection of papers than a proper book. Regimental information is also now available through the National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System at: http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/regiments.htm. I then used the General Index of Civil War Pension Files, Microfilm T288 at the National Archives to determine if the soldier or his family had applied for a pension. The collection is listed alphabetically by last name of the soldier. Information on John Davis is found on Microfilm Roll 113. Finally, I examined their pension records on microfilm from the Civil War Pension Records, available from Microfilm Record Group 94. Union soldiers who served in regiments from the State of New York can be found in Record Group 94, Microfilm Pamphlet M551. The pamphlet contains a collection of microfilmed index cards arranged in alphabetical order.
(2) United States Manuscript Census (1850, 1860, and 1870), Records of the Department of Commerce, Microfilm Record Group 29, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Hereafter cited as USMC. I have compiled a database with all of the census information about African Americans in New York City for these three census years. The database includes information concerning area of residence, names of each couple, age, sex, race, occupation, nativity, literacy, and value of property. Interracial marriages are arranged here according to family number in each census. 1850 Interracial Marriages: Potter, Henry and Jane (59); Claire, Gabriel and Elisabeth (74); Beckman, Peter and Sarah (191); Sanders, Charles and Julia (260); Moore, Lewis and Margaret (304); Houston, Anthony and Maria (566); Benson, George and Susan (567); Morris, George and Margaret (595); Ray, William and Ann (596); Bertrand, Filor and Louisa (693); Derecson, William and Ann (756); Cruise, Benjamin and Mary (758); Smith, James and Sarah (858); Johnston, James and Mary (862); Freeman, John and Eliza (863); Bradley, Benjamin and Mary (972); Halron, Aaron and Ann (1000); Fallon, David and Mary (1081); Patterson, George and Mary (1484); Baker, John and Julia (1485); Moore, William and Winifred (1487); Buckman, Cornelius and Mary (1546); Shallow, William and Ann (1592); Bromberger, Ishmael and Mary (1653); Jackson, William and Margaret (1763); Card, James and Cynthia (2097); Scoffield, David and Jane (2154); King, John and Hannah (2178); Ryan, James and Margaret (2215); Wright, James and Ellen (2348). 1860 Interracial Marriages: Wilson, Abraham and Emily (25); Jones, France and Susan (189); Wilson, William and Susan (281); McCormick, Samuel and Jane (311); Eslar, Frederick and Louisa (350); Hoffman, Levi and Anna (533); Gibbs, John and Mary (636); Parker, Charles and Covella (685); Varick, David and Martha (690); Ofley, Alex and Sarah (692); Adkins, Alonzo and Maria (762); Clark, William and Mary (855); Simmons, Stephen and Celia (1364); Divide, Andrew and Maria (1400); Katsenstan, William and Henrietta (1400); Robertson, George and Catharine (1632); Houston, Robert and Jane (1910); Demansh, William and Eliza (3272); Rice, Josiah and Mary (3505); Robinson, Sylvester and Rosa (3639). 1870 Interracial Marriages: Jones, Anthony and Isabelle (2); Clark, B. and Mary (4); Young, Samuel and Esther (18); Jackson, Charles and Mary (18); Seamen, Jacob and Mary (19); Thomas, George and Martha (27); Dubois, Charles and Catherine (29); Jacobs, John and Mary (33); Simms, Washington and Mary (35); Johnson, Nathaniel and Annie (42); White, Jacob and Catherine (44); Johnston, Peter and Elizabeth (44); Gesen, Thomas and Margaret (46); Bidle, James and Martha (48); Fuller, Charles and Fanny (49); Boules, David and Mary (50); Thompson, John and Catherine (51); Keistiache, Gareth and Caroline (52); Rice, William and Josephine (53); Webster, Jerimiah and Annie (55); Blair, Charles and Johanna (57); Jones, James and Margaret (58); Smith, James and Sarah (59); Carpenter, William and Ann (68); Morris, George and Margaret (69); Anderson, John and Eliza (69); Melcomb, Aaron and Ann (70); Brown, John and Susan (70); Jackson, Charles and Fanny (72); Soloman, Moses and Anne (73); Brown, John and Maria (74); Payton, George and Bridget (75); Crussifer, B. and Jane (76); Downs, Henry and Catherine (82); Milhause, Charles and Ann (83); Thomas, Frances and Mary (86); Owens, William and Winifred (87); Barton, John and Elsie (88); Smith, Edward and Fanny (88); Elliott, Samuel and Eliza (89); Wilson, James and Levioline (98); Cass, John and Bridgett (103); Smith, Isaac and Mary (111); Smith, Gaston and Mary (114); Harts, James and Ann (115); Landrine, George and Margaret (117); Brown, William and Ellen (118); Hadden, William and Anna (123); Hallandy, Thomas and Mary (124); Gomez, Charles and Delia (125); Penny, Dennis and Alice (169); Walton, Phillip and Mary (202); Francis, George and Catherine (203); Felband, Soloman and Sarah (209); Walter, Charlie and Catherine (217); Myers, John and Iola (218); Ledy, Henry and Mary (218); Marving, John and Hannah (222); Kau, John and Jane (226); Johnson, James and Mary (226); Shurgress, Thomas and Catherine (228); Fenwick, James and Mary (229); Mildiele, Henry and Helen (230); Wilson, Lane and Julia (231); Mildiele, John and Annie (233); John, Henry and Mary (241); Beulon, William and Julia (242); Bloomfield, Isaac and Sarah (244); Smith, Joseph and Jane (244); Higg, David and Elizabeth (246); Sayles, Henry and Kate (250); Thompson, Charles and Lena (251); Gage, Edward and Ellen (251); Drute, Henry and Catherine (255); Johnson, Edward and Mary (255); Hosley, Benjamin and Mary (257); Hazzard, William and Alice (257); Williams, John and Lucy (257); Penster, Thomas and Mary (274); Lee, Robert and Elizabeth (275); Freeman, John and Sarah (304); Mallon, Capus and Jane (313); Smith, John and Hannah (318); Scoll, John and Sarah (319); Raos, John and Mary (320); Moore, Henry and Margaret (328); Saltis, Margaret and Benjamin (329); Thompson, Samuel and Bridget (339); Johnson, John and Mary (347); Francis, Anthony and Lizzie (352); Rammis, Raferee and Mary (353); Reynolds, James and Annie (354); Holiday, Charles and Margaret (355); Cisco, Caesar and Mary (378); Kimkade, Samuel and Jane (451); Scott, Williams and Elizabeth (470); Thompson, John and Margaret (475); Hall, Frederick and Mary (479); Gilbert, Samuel and Jane (482); Ballard, James and Margaret (484); Green, William and Catherine (485); White Sylvester and Ellen (494); Watkins, Mentego and Margaret (495); Cooper, Perry and Catherine (496); Ramas, John and Anne (496); Williams, Henry and Frances (505); Mingo, Fred and Margaret (506); Ceasar, Richard and Sarah (509); Brooks, Calvin and Bridget (514); Blackburn, Levi and Mary (526); Brooks, Thomas and Mary (644); Johnson, William and Margaret (657); Armstrong, Jason and Ann (702); Robertson, John and Ada (789); Price, William and Josephine (836); Price, Wilson and Mary (840); Williams, John and Lucy (872); Dubois, Henry and Mary (928).
(3) Scholars of "whiteness" have argued that Irish men tried to differentiate themselves from black men by exploiting the privilege of their white skin. Initially, Irish immigrants were not considered to be "white" and faced tremendous discrimination from native-born whites. In an effort to improve their status relative to blacks, Irish men fought black men in male realms including the workplace and saloon. Irish women did not participate in these "whiteness" negotiations so their liaisons with African Americans were not deemed to be improper because, in many respects, they were not considered to be liaisons between blacks and whites. A fuller discussion of this issue appears later in this study.
(4) C. Vann Woodward examines the hardening of racial lines over time in his collection of essays, American Counterpoint: Slavery and Racism in the North-South Dialogue (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1971), 150-62. See also Joel Williamson's discussion of interracial marriages in the South in New People: Miscegenation and Mulattoes in the United States (New York: Free Press, 1980), 89-90, 98-100, 118-20, 122-23.
(5) Martha Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 3-9.
(6) For more information on interracial marriages in New York City, see Leslie M. Harris, "From Abolitionist Amalgamators to 'Rioters of Five Points': The Discourse of Interracial Sex and Reform in Antebellum New York City," in Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History, ed. Mary Hodes (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 191-212; Graham Russell Hodges, Root and Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 235-36; Leslie Harris, In The Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 191-94.
(7) Rhoda Golden Freeman, The Free Negro in New York City in the Era before the Civil War (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1966), 115-54; Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 128, 205; Hodges, Root and Branch, 196-200.
(8) USMC, 1850, 1860, and 1870. Totals derived from author's database.
(9) For examples of political activism of black New Yorkers, see Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 91; Hodges, Root and Branch, 80-81, 188-89, 196-200, 229-30.
(10) Graham Russell Hodges, "'Desirable Companions and Lovers': Irish and African Americans of New York City, 1830-1870," in Graham Russell Hodges, Slavery, Freedom and Culture Among Early American Workers (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1998), 124; Hasia Diner, Erin's Daughters in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), 30-31.
(11) Ira Rosenwaike, Population History of New York (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1972), 41-42.
(12) "Immigration to the North," Frederick Douglass 'Paper (Rochester, NY), February 2, 1855, available from African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom] (Malvern, PA: Accessible Archives, Inc., 1997).
(13) Diner, Erin's Daughters in America, 81.
(14) George Tindall discussed this concept of racial intermingling in his study of blacks in South Carolina. See George Brown Tindall, South Carolina Negroes, 1877-1890 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1952), 296-99.
(15) Seth Scheiner, Negro Mecca: A History of the Negro in New York City, 1865-1920 (New York: New York University Press, 1965), 15-38; Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1108, 1232.
(16) USMC, 1850, 1860, and 1870. In 1850, ninety-three interracial roommate situations existed. By 1860, that number dropped to thirty-eight and decreased again to thirteen by 1870. Because some of the roommate situations contain up to ten people, the following list includes only the head of household as well as family number. 1850 Black and White Roommates: Porter, Susan (15); Bodey, Celia (51): Brown, Caroline (53); Powell, Mary (73); Johnson, Josephine (190); Smith, William (231); Spencer, William (247); Diggs, Elizabeth (282); Johnson, Ann (292); Howe, Caroline (298); Cooper, Ellen (395); Clements, Sarah (422); ?, Katie (431); Rickerson, Robert (432); Smith, Miles (433); Flowers, Mary (446); Pease, Kingston (497); Wilson, George (500); Adams, John (502); Townsend, Charles (512); Dickens, Matilda (519); Jackson, Ceazer (520); Waters, Mary (527); Brown, Sarah (528); Houston, Anthony (566); Harry, Julius (567); Burton, Martha (569); Johnson, Eliza (577); Hutchings, Daniel (604); Loyd, Sarah (608); Garcia, Francis (629); Jackson, Lewis (636); Smith, Mary (637); Williams, George (639); Reed, Zachary (658); Cannon, John (702); Johnson, Hannah (704); Price, Sarah (710); Baldwin, Elizabeth (714); Gomes, Susan (725); Welderman, James (729); Jackson, Moses (752); Smith, Mary (875); Allas, Joseph (881); Livingston, Jane (882); Williams, Richard (988); Willis, Maria (1125); Johnson, Louisa (1126); Williams, Nancy (1130); Bostnick, Francis (1134); Murnell, Henry (1168);?, Samuel (1197); Brown, Hannah (1329); Ritter, Charles (1394); Thompson, Alfred (1395); Martin, Peter (1412); Thompson, Hester (1500); McCloy, Henry (1522); Parker, Samuel (1563); Smith, Mary (1575); Wilson, Ann (1601); Bromberger, Ishmael (1653); Smith, John (1674); Gilbert, Charity (1694); Underhill, Mary (1733); Johnson, Sarah (1748); Campbell, Edward (1750); Van Gilden, Abraham (1774); Hutchins, Sarah (1810); Denny, George (1814); Hick, Philip (1816); Hayden, Peter (1820); Johnson, William (1848); Horing, Catharine (1874); Howard, George (1948); Guy, Abraham (2034); Roberson, George (2071); Thomas, Grace (2134); Williams, Barbara (2163); King, John (2178); Wright, James (2348); Davis, Charles (2388); Inniss, William (2497); Harris, Alexander (2679); Porter, Peter (3710); Scott, Mary (4549). 1860 Black and White Roommates: Wilson, Abraham (25); Burch, Mary (35); Givens, Rosetta (65); ?, Margaret (69); Stewart, Ann (82); ?, Lizzie (87); ?, Robert (88); Thomas, John (110); Hodges, Jane (166); Jones, France (189); Englis, Edward (271); Wilson, William (281); Smith, Margaret (300); Reed, Edward (302); Barney, William (311); ?, Frederick (315); Eslar, Frederick (350); Smith, E. (555); Gibbs, John (636); Parker, Charles (685); Varick, David (690); Adkins, Alonzo (762); Clark, William (855); Berry, Eliza (1196); Crusoe, Mary (1318); Simmons, Stephen (1364); Divide, Andrew (1400); Houston, Robert (1910); Demansh, William (3272); Thomas, George (3444); Rice, Josiah (3505); Doyle, Catharine (3623); Thompson, James (3628); Robinson, Sylvester (3639); Rodgers, Ellen (3731). 1870 Black and White Roommates: Clark, B. (4); Conkell, Mary (46); Schuyler, Edward (79); Thomas, Wilson (85); Felband, Soloman (209); White, Jane (319); Street, James (329); Nichols, Ann (367); Barney, Charlotte (445); Burske, Mary (446); Thompson, John (475); Gilbert, Samuel (482); Armstrong, Jason (702).
(17) Ellen Duggan Household, 1860 Census, New York City, Manuscript Census, Population Schedule, Ward 5, Household Number 320, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
(18) New York City Court Records, 1684-1966, District Attorney Indictment Papers, The People v. Ann Johnson, March 9, 1829, New York Municipal Archives, New York City. [Hereafter cited as NYMA.]
(19) Graham Russell Hodges, New York City Cartmen, 1667-1850 (New York: New York University Press, 1986), 4; Gary Nash, Forging Freedom: The Foundation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 150.
(20) "Disgraceful Proceedings-Colored Laborers Assailed by Irishmen," Douglass' Monthly (June 1863): 1, in The Black Worker." A Documentary History from Colonial Times to the Present, vol. I, The Black Worker to 1869, eds. Philip S. Foner and Ronald S. Lewis (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), 287.
(21) "Attacks on the Docks," New York Evening Post, March 13, 1863, 3.
(22) August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, From Plantation to Ghetto,3rd ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976), 80; Robert Ernst, Immigrant Life in New York City, 1825-1863 (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1949), 40-41; Marguerite Cartwright, Legislation Against Discrimination in Employment in the State of New York State: A Study of the Historical Antecedents (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1948), 100-05; Freeman, The Free Negro in New York City, 103.
(23) USMC, 1860. Figures derived from author's database.
(24) For a discussion on African-American male sailors, see W. Jeffrey, "'To Feel Like a Man': Black Seamen in the Northern States, 1800-1860," Journal of American History 76 (March 1990): 1173-99; W. Jeffrey Bolster, Black Jacks: African-American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 2-4.
(25) USMC, 1860. In his analysis of the 1860 census, Carl Degler found that women dominated industries such as paper box makers, milliners, and mantilla makers. My investigations of the same census demonstrate that black women were simply banned from such occupations. In 1860, for example, four black women labored as milliners. Carl Degler, Labor in the Economy and Politics of New York, 1850-1860: A Study of the Impact of Early Industrialism (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1952), 52-55.
(26) "The Dusky Race," New York Times, March 17, 1869, 1.
(27) Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 171-72, 191-94, 195-98, 227, 248-62.
(28) Carol Groneman Pernicone, "The 'Bloody Ould Sixth': A Social Analysis of a New York City Working-Class Community in the Mid-Nineteenth Century" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1973), 20-24; Report of the Council of Hygiene and Public Health of the Citizens' Association of New York Upon the Sanitary Condition of the City (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1866), 55-62; Roi Ottley and William J. Weatherby, eds., The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History (New York: Oceana Publications, 1967), 76-77; Tyler Anbinder, Five Points: The 19th Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum (New York: Plume Books, 2002), 42-65.
(29) George Foster, New York by Gas-light and Other Urban Sketches, edited with an introduction by Stuart M. Blumin (New York: [n.p.], 1850; reprint, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990), 56-57.
(30) Ladies of the Mission, The Old Brewery and the New Mission House at the Five Points (New York: Stringer and Townsend, 1854), 19.
(31) Ottley and Weatherby, eds., The Negro in New York, 77.
(32) Foster, New York by Gas-light and Other Urban Sketches, 125.
(33) "The Dusky Race," New York Times, March 17, 1869, 1.
(34) David Fowler, Northern Attitudes Towards Interracial Marriage: Legislation and Public Opinion in the Middle Atlantic and the States of the Old Northwest, 1780-1930 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1987), 161, 222.
(35) "Massachusetts Legislation," The Colored American (New York City), April 25, 1840, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom]; "State Legislatures," The Colored American (New York City), February 13, 1841, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom].
(36) Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 193.
(37) "Colonization," Freedom "s Journal (New York City), March 14, 1829, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom].
(38) "Coexistance of the Two Races after Emancipation," Christian Recorder (Philadelphia), March 8, 1862, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom].
(39) "Amalgamation," The Colored American (New York City), June 23, 1838, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom].
(40) "Tired with Nonsense," The Colored American (New York City), June 30, 1838, in African-American Newspapers: 19th Century [CD-Rom].
(41) Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 191-94.
(42) African free schools were community schools funded through donations from the black community. The schools were founded in the 1820s because black students were barred from attending white schools.
(43) George Morris Household, 1870 Census, New York City, Manuscript Census, Population Schedule, Ward 8, Household Number 69, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
(44) CWPR (Alexander Williams). Endnote 1 explains how one can find pension applications of African-American Civil War soldiers. Information on Alexander Williams was found in General Index of Civil War Pension Files, Microfilm T288. The application does not indicate whether Williams' widow received aid or not.
(45) USMC, 1850, 1860, and 1870. Two thousand dollars in 1870 would be valued at approximately $24,000 today. It is unclear how Morris acquired such a vast sum of money at a time when most blacks struggled economically. The fact that he married a white women, however, suggests that not only poor black men married across racial lines.
(46) "New York Riots," The Liberator (Boston), August 21, 1834, 1.
(47) Graham Russell Hodges, "Irish and African Americans in the 6th Ward, 1830-1870," in Hodges, Slavery, Freedom, and Culture among Early American Workers, 115.
(48) Harris, In the Shadow of Slavery, 264, 280-86; Hodges, Root and Branch, 263-68; Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society in the Age of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 26-31, 35-36; William Gillette, Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869-1879 (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), 7.
(49) Bernstein, New York City Draft Riots, 47-48; Report of the Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People Suffering from the Late Riots in the City of New York (New York: George A. Whitehorn, 1863), 17-18.
(50) "Cases of Colored Sufferers," New York Times, July 25, 1863, 8.
(51) "Riots in New York," Pacific Appeal (San Francisco), September 19, 1863, 1.
(52) "Rioting in the City," New York Herald, July 15, 1863, 1.
(53) Adrian Cook, The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1974), 227.
(54) "Colored Victims of the Riot," The Anglo African (New York City), July 25, 1863, 1.
(55) Report of the Committee of Merchants, 18. Ann Derickson's name was also spelled "Derecson" or "Derrickson."
(56) Ibid. A few months after the death of his mother, Alfred Derrickson enlisted in the United States Colored Troops 26th Regiment of New York City. Upon his enlistment, he gave his age as nineteen though he could have been no older than sixteen. He was employed as a butcher at the time. Muster Rolls for USCT, 26th Regiment, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
(57) Claims for Damage Incurred During the Riot, Mary Cisco vs. The Mayor, Alderman and Commonalty of the City of New York, Statement taken by F.R. Lee, 1863, NYMA, New York City.
(58) Report of Committee of Merchants, 26.
(59) "Victims of the Riot," The Anglo African (New York City), July 25, 1863, 1.
(60) David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1999), 135-37, 144-50; Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1995), 1-2.
(61) Roediger, Wages of Whiteness, 154-56.
(62) Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White, 100-02, 109-13, 117-19.
(63) Hodges, Root and Branch, 232.
(64) Ibid., 235-36.
(65) For the origins of the cult of domesticity, see Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860," American Quarterly 18:2 (Summer 1966):151-74; Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood." 'Woman's Sphere' in New England, 1780-1835 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977).
(66) Diner, Erin's Daughters in America, 142.
JANE DABEL is an Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach.
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|Publication:||International Social Science Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2005|
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