Juvenile Instructor » “Oh! Woman, thought I, where is thy shame”: William I. Appleby, Intermarriage, and the Ban
 


“Oh! Woman, thought I, where is thy shame”: William I. Appleby, Intermarriage, and the Ban

By: David G. - January 29, 2009

Although I have drafted this post, I acknowledge that the idea for it and one of the sources comes from frequent commenter and guestblogger Steve Fleming.

As Connell O’Donovan has shown in his brilliant research on Walker Lewis and the origins of the Priesthood ban, Brigham Young initially did not see black skin as an impediment to a man holding the priesthood (unless otherwise noted, all quotations come from O’Donovan’s article). In fact, as late as March 1847, Young is quoted as saying that

Its [that is, priesthood restrictions] nothing to do with the blood for [from] one blood has God made all flesh, we have to repent [to] regain what we av lost – we av one of the best Elders an African in Lowell.[that is, Lewis] (Brigham Young Papers, March 26, 1847, LDS Church Archives)

However, Young’s ecclesiastical egalitarianism probably ended (in part) when he discovered that a white woman in Massachusetts had married a black man. Intermarriage between the races was largely seen as taboo in early America (indeed, it was illegal in Utah until the early 1960s – See Pat Mason’s article in the USHQ). An important figure in Young’s shift in views toward the priesthood and race was William I. Appleby, an early convert and missionary from New Jersey. On the 19th of May, 1847, Appleby recorded in his journal:

Left this Afternoon, for Lowell, where I arrived in about one hour and a half, distance 25. miles. Here I found a branch of the Church of about 20 members in tolerable good standing. Elder [Darius] Longee presiding. In this Branch there is a Coloured Brother, (An Elder ordained by Elder Wm. Smith while he was a member of the Church, contrary though to the order of the Church or the Law of the Priesthood, as the Descendants of Ham are not entitled to that privilege) by the name of Walker Lewis. He appears to be a meek humble man, and an example for his more whiter brethren to follow. (Autobiography and Journal of William Appleby, May 19, 1847)

According to O’Donovan, this entry is “what appears to be the first very clear explanation of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, as the reason for the priesthood ban against black men,” but he is quick to clarify that the document we have now is probably an 1850s expansion of a now non-extant journal, so we should be hesitant to place this language in an 1847 context.

On May 31, Appleby wrote to Young that

At Lowell…I found a coloured brother by name of ‘Lewis’ a barber, an Elder in the Church, ordained some years ago by William Smith.  This Lewis I was informed has also a son who is married to a white girl [Enoch Lovejoy Lewis and Mary Matilda Webster Lewis].  and both members of the Church there.  Now dear Br. I wish to know if this is the order of God or tolerated in this Church  ie to ordain Negroes to the Priesthood and allow amalgamation [inter-racial marriage].  If it is I desire to Know, as I have Yet got to learn it. (William I. Appleby to Brigham Young, May 31, 1847, LDS Church Archives)

Steve Fleming, who at one time was considering doing a critical edition of Appleby’s autobiography (I’m not sure what the status of that is), found another reference to Appleby’s views on intermarriage, that O’Donovan apparently is not aware of.

 June 16, 1847 Naushua, Massachusetts In looking for a Br. in the Church, I called at a House, a coloured man resided there, I set myself down for a few moments presently in came quite a good looking “White Woman, about 22 years old I should think, with blushing cheeks, and was introduced to me as the negro’s wife, an infant in a cradle near bore evidence of the fact. Oh! Woman, thought I, where is thy shame, (for indeed I felt ashamed and not only ashamed, but disgusted, when I was informed they were both members of a Church!) Respect for the family, thyself, for thy offspring and above all the law of God. (Autobiography and Journal of William Appleby, June 16, 1847)

As Fleming asks, “What was it about Black men marrying White women (good looking ones especially)?”

For those interested in this subject, I highly recommend reading all of O’Donovan’s article for more information. For a broader treatment of intermarriage in American history, see Martha Hodes’ fantastic White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South. (Yes, I did read a book about race and sex for a class at BYU, of all places)

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39 Comments

  1. Fascinating stuff, David (and Steve). Thanks for sharing.

    IIRC, Hodes argues that one of the dangers of white women marrying free black males was that it threatened the notion that white men could not always control white women, and thus was seen as an assault on the white male power structure(s) that patriarchy and slavery sought to enforce.

    I wonder if that was part of what’s at play in Appleby’s reasoning. He does seem to see the intermarriage as an attack on those power structures—the family and the church.

    Comment by Christopher — January 29, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  2. Steve Fleming, who at one time was considering doing a critical edition of Appleby’s autobiography (I’m not sure what the status of that is)

    Steve, if you’re reading this, please do. Appleby’s autobiography is a valuable source and historians would greatly benefit from having a critical edition available.

    Comment by Christopher — January 29, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

  3. Chris, that’s my memory of Hodes as well. I agree that Appleby seems to be concerned with white/male power structures, and I think it’s safe to say that BY was as well.

    Comment by David G. — January 29, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  4. Very interesting, and painful, stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

    Comment by Cynthia L. — January 29, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  5. Thank you so much for not only the positive review of my research, but for also pointing out the other encounter with miscegenation that Appleby had in Nashua, MA. This is a perfect addition to my upcoming paper I’m proposing for Sunstone West on “LDS Historical Rhetoric & Praxis Regarding Marriage Between Blacks & Whites,” comparing those to the current stand against legalized homogamy.

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — January 29, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Connell. I look forward to seeing and hearing more about the Sunstone paper, and I’m glad that Steve’s find is helpful.

    Comment by David G. — January 29, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

  7. All very interesting points. I think it’s interesting how closely Appleby links intermarriage and priesthood in his letter to Young.

    Thanks for the encouragement on the Appleby journal. I’ll get to it in a few years (dissertation first, I think).

    Comment by Steve Fleming — January 29, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  8. Connell, I second David’s desire to hear more about your Sunstone paper. Please feel free to revisit this thread and post a brief summary of your thoughts if you feel so inclined.

    Steve,

    Thanks for the encouragement on the Appleby journal. I’ll get to it in a few years (dissertation first, I think).

    That’s understandable, I suppose. :)

    Comment by Christopher — January 29, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

  9. Outstanding. I think it is accurate to think of the ban originating more as a temple ban than a priesthood ban. The early brethren were comfortable ordaining black men to the priesthood to work as preachers and missionaries, but sanctioning marriage, especially temple sealings, to white women was too much for them to consider. And since priesthood and temple ordinances are so closely connected, we then logically extended the ban to the priesthood as well.

    Comment by Mark Brown — January 29, 2009 @ 9:12 pm

  10. Such a close tie between priesthood and marriage is not surprising in early Mormonism given the role of the sacerdotal genealogy in soteriology.
    I’m assuming the Appleby autobiography is one of those ca. 1890-1910 or so personal histories? If so it’s probably misleading to treat it as an actual diary. If it is an actual diary, could you indicate that? The letter to BY does a good job of timing things, but I have come to treat those late Utah personal histories with considerable skepticism in general terms.
    Also, it may be that the Egyptian project reconnects here, cf. the treatment of Katoumun, the mummy princess, which strongly situates genealogy and marriage within the priestly narratives of Abraham.

    I think that academics don’t use “miscegenation” much anymore (though I could be wrong and admit to being pretty far left in my normative descriptions), given how darkly it has been applied in the past (it means the “intermixture of kinds/genuses” and is one of those once “scholarly” terms that reeks of a pettier, meaner age)–I think the new term is intermarriage (just reviewed a sociologist’s grant application, and that’s what he was calling it), though excitable anthropologist’s could probably call it exogamy without much by way of repercussions.

    Comment by smb — January 30, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  11. Sam, see this line from the initial post:

    According to O’Donovan, this entry is “what appears to be the first very clear explanation of the “curse of Ham” doctrine, as the reason for the priesthood ban against black men,” but he is quick to clarify that the document we have now is probably an 1850s expansion of a now non-extant journal, so we should be hesitant to place this language in an 1847 context.

    On whether or not scholars use the word “miscegenation” today or not, I again caution you against generalizing from one example to all of academia. I still see “anti-miscegenation” used frequently to describe legislation, and miscegenation occasionally, especially when describing the phenomenon historically, with intermarriage and interracial marriage also sprinkled in. You’ll notice that I use intermarriage in the initial post.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  12. Re: miscegenation

    According to Hodes, the term was invented in 1864, and it is thus anachronistic to use it in reference to Appleby’s statement. I’ve corrected the post.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  13. I just came across this book from Elise Lemire (new, much more affordable paperback due out in April) that looks quite insightful.

    Comment by Christopher — January 30, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  14. I recall that Appleby began the autobiography part of the journal in 1848 (he summarizes his life up to the time of his conversion in 1841). Then the document starts into the “journal” part, dated 1841. So I suppose the expansion of his journal may have begun around 1848. Hard to pinpoint it though. Appleby died in 1872.

    I get the sense from the letter that although there was nothing wrong with Walker Lewis, Appleby seemed to feel that giving him the priesthood had been a catalyst for his son’s intermarriage. So Appleby linked the two.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — January 30, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  15. Was amalgamation the common term pre-1864?

    Comment by Justin — January 30, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  16. The book description that Christopher links to puts “amalgamation” in quotes, so I suspect that that it was a common term in Appleby’s era. Hodes does not have a reference to amalgamation in her index. Interestingly, the new book is called Miscegenation (and indicates that the earliest use of the word was 1863), and the description also uses the word “inter-racial” to describe the phenomenon.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  17. I get the sense from the letter that although there was nothing wrong with Walker Lewis, Appleby seemed to feel that giving him the priesthood had been a catalyst for his son’s intermarriage. So Appleby linked the two.

    That’s an interesting point, Steve. I wonder if Connell has pinpointed when the son got married.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  18. I looked on Connell’s website, where he has posted scanned images of the Walker Lewis family group sheets, and Connell has the marriage date at 1846, so you may well be right, Steve.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  19. David, I have no particular desire to dishonor your use of terms and will confess I’m a bit of an activist in this regard. On the basis of your response, I can see how my comment could be offensive and regret causing offense. In settings like this, I like to ask myself how the referent would feel about a particular style of reference. I don’t have the sense that people who marry interethnically would like to be described as engaging in miscegenation. For me that’s adequate reason to try to push beyond loaded terms. I’m not persuaded that an academic consensus will ever be achieved on anything, much less nomenclature, so am glad to promote what I perceive to be a useful approach.

    I do admit that for scholars academic language cannot always be perfectly coterminous with ingroup self-reference, but I do think that when they differ there should be a compelling scholarly reason. The vague invocation of outmoded racialist pseudo-science, as connected with the term miscegenation, I think fails this test. Using it ironically to mock those who held to the view of miscegenation as taboo is a potential use, but it’s worth thinking through how to use it.

    Incidentally, I will confess and publicly regret that the prior Indian/Native American reference on BCC was rather sanctimonious, even though it was inspired by this sensibility about using terms that make sense for members of the referent group.

    Comment by smb — January 30, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  20. Thanks, Sam. No hard feelings. I understand where you’re coming from and shouldn’t have responded in that way. Upon further reflection, I suspect that I subconsciously used “miscegenation” due to the shock value associated with it. You’re right, it’s an ugly word, not only for the people being described, but also for many contemporary readers that can’t understand why people in the past could be so racist.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  21. David,

    My point wasn’t that Lewis’s ordination had in fact facilitated the marriage (it may have) but just that Appleby perceived it that way. In the early days of the church, priesthood holders were referred to as “official members” (this comes from Methodism’s itinerant system), so I wonder if Appleby felt by giving Lewis the priesthood he had been granted a kind of “official” membership which led his son to think that “amalgamation” was okay (again, from Appleby’s point of view). Since “amalgamation” was unacceptable to Appleby (Young, and most everyone else) Appleby wondered whether ordaining Lewis had been a mistake. I think Young felt the same way.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — January 30, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  22. Ok, I gotcha Steve. I think your reading is plausible–that Appleby doesn’t seem all that upset about Walker getting the priesthood, at least until he hears about Enoch and Mary.

    Comment by David G. — January 30, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  23. #21, there’s a reasonable literature, mostly primary, on the use of ordination certificates as a letter of introduction in the antebellum frontier, a way to establish, by token of the issuer’s authority, one’s standing in a community and reliability. this may also have played a role in their discomfort. It could also have been something as trivial as people being more racist than they believed and finding themselves shocked and over-reacting when a threshold has been passed.

    Comment by smb — January 30, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  24. The timeline of Appleby’s quotes is peculiar. Appleby makes no mention of Enoch and Mary in his journal, but does two weeks later in his letter to Young. Two weeks after that he expresses his outrage over an interracial couple that belong to a church, but again, no mention in his journal of Enoch and Mary who belong to his church.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — January 30, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  25. I have posited elsewhere that there were probably at least seven men of African descent to hold LDS priesthood before 1847, when Brigham Young began implementing the ban. In roughly chronological order of ordination, they were (1) Black Pete, (2) Elijah Abel, (3) Joseph T. Ball – see my upcoming biography of him, (4) Walker Lewis, (5) Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, (6) Warner “William” McCary, and (7) “Bro Van Meter” of Maine.

    Joseph T. Ball (who was Wilford Woodruff’s missionary companion for several years in the late 1830s all over New England) was the son of a black man and a white woman. Dozens of LDS missionaries (including Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Ezra T. Benson) dined and slept over at this mixed-race home, with no apparent reticence over the racial mixing of the family. Elder Ball eventually became the Boston Branch President in October 1844 (the first black man to preside over an LDS congregation) and was ordained a High Priest by William Smith (another first). Parley P. Pratt ordered Ball to leave Boston in the spring of 1845 to go to Nauvoo to work on the temple and receive his endowments. He did go to Nauvoo and work on the temple, but due to his and William Smith’s concurrent apostasy in the fall of 1845, Ball did not get endowed when the temple opened that winter.

    Walker Lewis himself was the son of a black man and a mixed-race mother (her father was black and her mother white). Warner McCary was an escaped slave, and son of a Pennsylvania carpenter and his slave woman “Franky” in Natchez, Mississippi. Orson Hyde married him to Lucile Celestia Stanton (of the prominent Stanton family in early LDS history) in Nauvoo in late 1845 and ordained McCary to the priesthood about February 1846.

    I believe (from memory only) that Elijah Abel’s wife was also white, if I remember correctly.

    So before 1847 there were examples of mixed-race children being thoroughly unremarkable in the church, and even of “amalgamation” performed by LDS apostles. Yet, in 1843, Joseph Smith, as Nauvoo Justice of the Peace, he fined two African American men $25 and $5 for trying to marry white women.

    So two things: (1) we need to get as much information about ALL the people of African descent in early Mormonism as we can (not just 3 or 4 of them) before trying to come up with a theory about black-white intermarriage and temple/priesthood ban; (2) there is likely to be precious little consistency anyway in how black-white marriages were treated – much will depend on the context; only once the Mormons got to the “tabula rasa” of Utah (far from gentile influence and oversight) that any sort of consistency would be maintained.

    As for William I. Appleby’s so-called “journal” it is indeed still extent, in the LDS archives, having personally read it there. (Unfortunately at the time – 1980 – I was only allowed to xerox one page.) As I noted, however, in my Lewis biography, the journal actually was not written until the mid-1850s; it was based on extemporaneous notes (those are now missing) that Appleby had kept, and then fleshed out when he wrote his “journal”. Thus entries for the 1840s actually reflect doctrines not set until the 1850s (such as the “curse of Ham” statement).

    Steve Fleming, would you please email me at odonovan@ucsc.edu ?? Any one else is welcome to as well!

    Connell
    Santa Cruz CA

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — January 31, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

  26. I have a copy of the journal, both a typescript and original. My point is that if it is an expansion (I’m sure it is) then the notes you refer to would constitute an earlier journal since Appleby’s existing journal covers almost everyday of his life for 15 years. I have some other stuff I’ll send along.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — January 31, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  27. Great stuff, Connell; thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Ben — January 31, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  28. BTW, the only black-white couple in Nashua, New Hampshire (there is no “Naushua Massachusetts”) was William Ross Parker (born 1800 in NH) and his white wife Mary (born 1815 in Vermont). She would have been 32 in 1847, not 22, as Appleby thought. By 1850, they had no children listed in the census, so if this is the right couple (and I do believe it is), their infant died before 1850.

    Connell

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — January 31, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  29. By Appleby’s “notes” I have always thought of them as simply slips of paper that he kept “short hand” notes on. He later then organized them chronologically and fleshed them out into a “journal”. I suppose it could have started out as a single volume chronology, but again, with simple notes for each chronological entry. In my Lewis biography, I speculated, for example, that Appbleby’s original “note” simply read something like:

    5/9/47 – PM to Lowell, 1 1/2 hrs, 25 miles. Branch of 20, Longee presiding. Coloured Bro Lewis

    Then in the mid-1850s, he rewrote it as:

    Left this Afternoon, for Lowell, where I arrived in about one hour and a half, distance 25. miles. Here I found a branch of the Church of about 20 members in tolerable good standing. Elder [Darius] Longee presiding. In this Branch there is a Coloured Brother, (An Elder ordained by Elder Wm. Smith while he was a member of the Church, contrary though to the order of the Church or the Law of the Priesthood, as the Descendants of Ham are not entitled to that privilege) by the name of Walker Lewis. He appears to be a meek humble man, and an example for his more whiter brethren to follow.
    ___

    Thus I make the distinction between “notes” and “so-called journal”.

    Connell

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — January 31, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  30. David -

    I just let Steve Fleming know this but thought I’d post here too. The Appleby journal entry you quote for “Oh Woman…where is they shame” is actually in regard to Enoch and Mary Matilda Lewis, and their infant, Enoch Lewis Jr. Fleming misread Appbleby’s journal and thought Appleby was in Nashua, New Hampshire. But he had LEFT Nashua for Lowell on June 15, 1847, spent the night in Lowell, and the next morning is when he found the mixed-race couple there. Where Appleby wrote of his shock that they “were both members of a Church”, he meant “members of an LDS branch”.

    Connell

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — February 2, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  31. Thanks for the update, Connell. That does provide a significantly different context for the entry.

    Comment by David G. — February 2, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  32. So this is what I think happened.

    1) Appleby meets Walker Lewis in Lowell Mass., hears that he is a priesthood holder, and thinks nothing of it (the part about the seed of Ham is added later.) Note, Appleby kept a journal at this time (it started in 1841). I believe that what we have now is a “polished” version with corrections here and there.

    2) A couple of weeks later Appleby hears that Walker Lewis’s son is married to a white woman. He’s concerned and decides to write Birgham Young.

    3) Appleby decides to go and meet Enoch and Mary and is irate at what he sees.

    The question is, what did Appleby learn from his visit with Enoch and Mary? From the letter to Young, he already knew about their marriage. It would seem that the only new information was how good looking Mary was (he gives this quite a bit of detail). Appleby then brought this information with him when he met Brigham Young in winter quarters at the end of the year and Brigham was also irate.

    So the question is, can we trace the priesthood ban back to Mary’s beauty?

    You should do another post David.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — February 2, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

  33. Here’s an update concerning the “miscegenation” debate. I brought up the question of whether or not scholars use the word anymore in my Afro-Latin America class today, and the professor said miscegenation is still the most common term used. One problem with “intermarriage” is that it by nature limits description to marriage relations, and therefore excludes the variety of sexual relations occurring between persons outside of marriage. No one in the class could come up with a similar word that conveys the same meaning of miscegenation without the racial baggage, other than “interracial,” which carries with it problems as well.

    The word in Latin America is “mestizaje,” which includes not only interracial sex but also the broad cultural phenomenon of mixing and combinations. I’m not sure if miscegenation carries the same broad connotations.

    So it’s a problem, for the reasons Sam points out, but other than Hodes, I haven’t seen any indication that scholars are debating the usability of the word.

    Comment by David G. — February 4, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  34. The problem with miscegenation, if you follow the line in 33, is that it is generally limited to reproduction, no? Infertile interracial couplings would be excluded, no? I suspect it will vary by discipline, as the sociologist I discussed it with referred to intermarriage with -marriage understood as formation of a household of whatever description.
    thanks for checking on it, though.

    Comment by smb — February 4, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  35. Steve, I would argue as well that the other “new” information Appleby got during his visit was the existence of little Enoch Jr. – irrevocable evidence that the couple had been sexual together. (It is unlikely that Appleby knew that the child had been conceived out of wedlock.) Note that when Appleby had written to Brigham Young sixteen days earlier, he only mentioned that a black Mormon had married a white Mormon; he did not mention the existence of a child.

    Now when Appleby arrived in Winter Quarters in December 1847 to personally report to Brigham Young about this situation, the Quorum of the Twelve minutes for the meeting specifically states, “bro Appleby relates…Wm. Smith ordained a black man Elder at Lowell & he has married a white girl & they have a child”. Once again, the existence of the [mixed-race] child seems an important point. That’s when Brigham Young introduced his theories that when a black and white couple “mingle seed it is death to all” and that “mulattoes r like mules they cant have children.” Young’s big pronouncement that day is “The law is their seed shall not be amalgamated.” In this meeting he stated that the only way a mixed-race person like Enoch Jr. “may have a place in the Temple” was to be a “Eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven.” Therefore I would tend to link the beginning of the ban more toward inter-racial reproduction, rather than “Mary’s beauty.” (Although I do agree that Appleby’s libido clearly is a factor in his shame and disgust. I wonder as well if he didn’t secretly find black women attractive.)

    David – one of my favorite early synonyms for “miscegenation” (not coined until 1863?) was the use in the 1830s and 1840s of the word “promiscuity” (as in “thoroughly mixed together”). However it was not limited to just sex and marriage, but seems more like our word “integrated”. Thus anti-abolitionists often complained of “promiscuous meetings” held by abolitionists in which white people actually sat next to black people.

    Comment by Connell O'Donovan — February 4, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  36. Good point. I do think Mary’s good looks made the situation particularly galling for Applelby though.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — February 4, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  37. [...] history. Does it illustrate, for example, a continuing disdain for interracial marriage (which has been suggested as being crucial to the beginnings of the race-based priesthood ban)? Within its immediate context [...]

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  38. [...] William Appleby, Intermarriage, and the Ban [...]

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  39. [...] research in his prior JWHA article on Walker Lewis [3] and some fine blogging at Juvenile Instructor, I have become convinced that Brigham’s views on interracial marriage were an important part [...]

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