The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937 Page: 170
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
approaching old age of their masters.4 Still others denied their
Negro ancestry, among them a daughter of William Primm mar-
ried to David L. Wood, both white men. Wood, in the impersonal
third person, tells his own story.
"In the fervour and integrity of his heart, and in conformity to
the usages of all the civilized world, he espoused and married a
wife (the daughter of William Primm of Fayette County) to be
his bosom companion and the co-partner of his future destiny. In
doing which he was not aware that he was rendering himself
obnoxious to any law whatever; but rather that he was obeying
the divine precepts and laws of morality. But, in the midst of
all his expectations of future happiness he was assailed by the
grand jury, and a bill of indictment found against him, upon less
than a shadow of testimony (an incompetent witness) that his
wife was of African descent." Wood prayed that Congress might
place him "beyond the reach of any future attempts against his
private peace and happiness by passing an act to legalize his mar-
riage, lest he should be driven by the spirit of persecution to seek
a home with his wife in a foreign land, where they would be as
exiles from the society of all those who are most dear to them in
life." Wood may have been ignorant of his wife's descent, or he
may have been technically right in asserting that she was a white
woman. Certainly she must have been nearly white in order for
him to make the claim, and perhaps she had less than one-eighth
Negro blood. But however remote her African ancestry, subse-
quent testimony by her own father proves she was born a slave
and legally remained one."
The difficulty of accurately determining the proportion of Negro
blood, which might easily run into sixteenths and thirty-seconds,
in a class of people who were generally ignorant of their ancestry
is assurance that the legal definition could not have been strictly
obeyed. The status of a person with remote African progenitors
'See Chapter III, "Manumissions," in Southwestern Historical Quarterly,
5The marriage laws prohibited the intermarriage of any person of Euro-
pean blood with Africans or their descendants. Such marriages were null
and void, and the parties on conviction were to be deemed guilty of a high
misdemeanor. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, I, 1294-1295.
OMemorial No. 33, File 94, November 11, 1841; No. 139, File 74, no date;
senate Journal, Second Legislature, 186.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937, periodical, 1937; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/m1/192/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.