The American Melting Pot? Miscegenation Laws in the United States

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2001


People of mixed heritage have been citizens of the United States since the country's inception. Indeed, one scholar has insisted that "American History would be unrecognizable without ethnic intermarriage" (1). But while Americans proudly describe their nation as a "melting pot," history shows that social convention and legal statutes have been less than tolerant of miscegenation, or "race mixing." For students and teachers of history, the topic can provide useful context for a myriad of historical and contemporary issues. Laws prohibiting miscegenation in the United States date back as early as 1661 and were common in many states until 1967. That year, the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in Loving v. Virginia, concluding that Virginia's miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. In this article, we look at the history of miscegenation in the United States, some motivations for anti-miscegenation policy, the landmark decision of Loving v. Virginia, and some applications of the topic for the social studies classroom.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

OAH Magazine of History, v. 15, no. 4, p. 80-84

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