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“A quick conception of all that this accusation meant for her”: The Legal Climate at the Time of “Désirée’s Baby”

  • Amy Branam Armiento
Chapter
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Part of the American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century book series (ALTC)

Abstract

Although Kate Chopin lived in Louisiana until she was five years old, her adult experience in Louisiana coincided with the “carpetbagger” days of state government. One contemporary described this period as one in which “all the honesty and intelligence of the country were driven out of sight into nooks, corners, and rat-holes, and the Southern States were delivered to the merciless legislation of the ignorant negroes, acting blindly under the guidance of white leaders, the majority of whom will be eternally gibbeted in history under the appellations of carpet-baggers and scalawags” (Gayarre 480). This atypical period in Louisiana history was the direct consequence of northern pressures to extend equality to African Americans in the wake of the Civil War. The North had recently terminated its occupation of the South when the Louisiana Code of 1870 was adapted to incorporate laws and amendments passed since its last revision in 1825, and the new code also excised all references to slaves and slavery. From 1870 to 1894, Republicans—not Democrats—clung to their majority in the Louisiana legislature and many African American men served as well (Yiannopoulus 10–11). However, by 1894, the political tides had changed. The southern Democrats regained power, and Jim Crow loomed large, influencing a resurgence of segregation laws (Wallenstein 104).

Keywords

White Woman Black Woman Interracial Marriage Fourteenth Amendment County Jail 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Heather Ostman and Kate O’Donoghue 2015

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  • Amy Branam Armiento

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