To & From AfriGeneas@Lists.MsState.Edu
Thank you for sharing your very interesting article.
If you have not already seen it, there is a relevant Georgia Supreme
Court case that is similar to Ferrell vs Ferell, except that it has
its origins in an antebellum marriage which was challenged after
Reconstruction. The case, Dillon vs Dillon, is reported in 60 GA
At the behest of Mr. Dillon, white, the Georgia legislature passed a
private law in 1857 declaring Rachel Black to be a citizen of the
state. Since, in antebellum Georgia, only whites could be citizens,
this law was tantamount to a declaration that Rachel was white.
Dillon subsequently married her and they had children. In 1878, Mr
Dillon sued for divorce on the grounds that his marriage was illegal
because Rachel was a Negro.
The supreme court wrote, "As is to be fairly deduced from the
evidence, Mrs. Dillon is not black, but of a complexion approximating
that of many white persons of pure blood . . . It is thus not an
open, bald case of the intermarriage of an African with a Caucasian.
. . The act [of 1857] declares her _status_, and to do so was within
the competency of the legislature . . . The act does not make her
white, but is conclusive evidence against Mr. Dillon, in this
proceeding, that she is white."
The court then excoriated Mr Dillon for attempting to cast aside,
after the flower of her youth had faded, the wife whose best years he
had taken and who had borne his children.