Notorious in the Neighborhood
Sex and Families Across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787-1861
"Laws and cultural norms militated against interracial sex in Virginia before the Civil War. Nonetheless, it was ubiquitous in urban, town, and plantation communities throughout the state. In Notorious in the Neighborhood, Joshua Rothman examines the full spectrum of interracial sexual relationships under slavery-from Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and
the intertwined interracial families of Monticello and Charlottesville, to commercial sex in Richmond, the routinized sexual exploitation of enslaved women, and adultery across the color line.
White Virginians allowed for an astonishing degree of flexibility and fluidity within a seemingly rigid system of race and interracial relations, Rothman argues, and the relationship between law and custom regarding racial intermixture was always shifting. As a consequence, even as whites never
questioned their own racial supremacy, the meaning a