Forsaking All Others
A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
Title Page, Copyright
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The writing of any manuscript is always to some extent a community effort. This book is no exception. There were a number of individuals who greatly affected the final product. Beth Juhl and Andrea Cantrell, librarians at the University of Arkansas, were reliable sources for me in my attempts to locate literature related to the subject. ...
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On January 24, 1884, Frederick Douglass, the famed black statesman and former abolitionist, shook the pillars of convention by wedding his white secretary, Helen Pitts, in a private ceremony held at the home of a Washington, D.C., minister. When news of the nuptials became public, a storm of criticism poured down on the couple from blacks ...
1. Mississippi on His Mind: Isaac Bankston’s Formative Years
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For most of the residents of Arkansas City, Arkansas, the morning of May 6, 1884, was like so many others. High humidity greeted the sunrise, signaling the steadily increasing temperatures of the season. A light breeze blew through the soft leaves of tall maples. The melodious morning songs of small birds mixed with the crows of roosters announcing ...
2. The Confluence Across the River
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Isaac and Martha arrived in an Arkansas that was in transition. Like blacks and whites throughout the South after the war, Arkansans sought to reclaim their lives and communities. They rebuilt cities and towns, repaired farms, and reestablished county and state governments. Southern Unionists in Arkansas had taken political charge of the ...
3. In Search of Their Place
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When it came to interracial coupling, post–Civil War Arkansas was much like the rest of the South. During the antebellum period, black-white liaisons usually involved white men and slave women. These affairs often operated beneath the public radar and, if known, were mostly ignored and/or tolerated by the larger white society.1 Few ...
4. From Memphis to Marriage and Misery
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In late December 1883, when Missouri and Isaac arrived in the city, Memphis bustled with activity. Seven railroad lines connected the Bluff City to other areas throughout the South and Midwest, while the Memphis City Rail conjoined the city’s ten wards. Steamboats bellowed their daily entries and exits in the river port. Some of them exported ...
5. Color Line Justice
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The indictment of Missouri and Isaac for unlawful cohabitation reflected Tennessee’s long history of opposition to formal interracial relationships. As early as 1741, while operating largely under the laws of North Carolina, the governing body of the sector that would become Tennessee adopted North Carolina’s antimiscegenation provision. ...
6. A Quest for Honor
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On the day following Isaac’s trial, the Memphis Daily Appeal reported on an incident in Batesville, Mississippi, involving two white men, H. W. Thaten, editor of the Batesville Blade, and a young lawyer named Julius Porter. According to the article, Thaten had insinuated that Porter was responsible for a number of thefts in local businesses. Outraged by the accusation, Porter demanded ...
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Page Count: 182
Publication Year: 2011