Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/685

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
667
"OUR MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE LAWS."

"The two sections of the code are entirely consistent.

"The one prescribes, generally, a punishment for an offense committed between persons of different sexes; the other prescribes a punishment for an offense which can only be committed where the two sexes are of different races. There is in neither section any discrimination against either race. Section 4,184 equally includes the offense when the persons of the two sexes are both white and when they are both black. Section 4,189 applies the same punishment to both offenders, the white and the black.

"Indeed, the offense against which this latter section is aimed can not be committed without involving the persons of both sexes in the same punishment.

"Whatever discrimination is made in the punishment prescribed in the two sections is directed against the offense designated and not against the person of any particular color or race. The punishment of each offending person, whether white or black, is the same."

The writer of the article referred to thinks it is a great hardship that one eighth of the people of the United States are prohibited by law from marrying with the other seven eighths.

We think he is mistaken about the fact of prohibition, and that the legal prohibition is very far from universal in the several States. We think, further, that the general sentiment of the negro race, where they dwell in large bodies, is at present opposed to marriage between the races. At all events, such marriages rarely take place where they are legally permitted. Negroes certainly have a higher regard for persons of full blood of both races, and seem in the main entirely unconscious of the injuries which the laws of some of the States are supposed to inflict on them. If the laws are to be changed so they can intermarry in order to elevate the races, why should not some sentimental white people be sent out to Dahomey in order to elevate Africa by the same process?

Let us rest assured of one thing: If the colored race has any virtue in it, it will assert itself. Sturdy integrity, sturdy intelligent industry, and patience, will command respect and will be accorded consideration everywhere. I know of no instance in history where a people has attained eminence without exhibiting energy on its own part. All great peoples have earned their positions. Recognition of the African race, for all it is worth, will come (if it is not now here) in due time.

There is one other matter contained in the article under consideration which ought also to be noticed. It is therein supposed that Congress has power to pass a law declaring the "marriage contract" to be of that kind "within the meaning of the Constitution, which declares that no State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts."

As legal minds are not yet readjusted to the "newer condition of