Tucker, L. Kathryn
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This thesis, based largely on legal cases concerning miscegenation in Alabama, argues that legal efforts to impose social control by prohibiting interracial marriages and relationships proved ineffective due to the efforts of defendants to find legal loopholes, the racial ambiguity of a tri-racial society, and the reluctance of many communities to prosecute offenders. Nationwide interest in matters of race fueled the passage of one-drop laws in the 1920s, but also provided defendants with ways to claim racial backgrounds that fell outside the scope of the laws. Concurrently, local communities proved disinclined to prosecute interracial relationships unless individuals felt personally involved through desires for revenge or monetary gain. This often long-term toleration of interracial relationships, along with interracial couples’ own efforts to escape prosecution, proves that southern race relations were often more flexible and accommodating than harsh laws and the attitudes behind them would suggest.