Remembering Condemned Marriages

On Monday longtime lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon (83) and Del Martin (87) were married in California. They have been partners for more than 50 years.

On a related note, the National Park Service at Hopewell Furnace will stage a re-enactment of the marriage between the interracial couple Miss Sally Hampton and Mr. Sol Stuart on Saturday, June 28. See the News Release below.

This June the National Park Service (NPS) will stage a re-enactment of the marriage between the interracial couple Miss Sally Hampton and Mr. Sol Stuart on Saturday, June 28, at 2 p.m., according to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site Superintendent Edie Shean-Hammond.  NPS volunteers and paid staff will portray the wedding party including Hopewell’s 19th century ironmaster, his wife, woodcutters, servants and the furnace’s moulder.  The re-enactment will illustrate the importance of community life at this early Pennsylvania iron plantation and also provide a glimpse of 19th century attitudes and morals.  The event is free and open to the public.

“National Parks need to be safe places to discuss issues of race and morality. At our history sites such as Hopewell we welcome the opportunity to explore how America has dealt with these issues over time,” said Superintendent Shean-Hammond.  “An iron making town, Hopewell Village was an extraordinary place in the 19th century where color and gender was not a determining factor in salary.  African American women and men worked side by side with Caucasians for equal wages.  June is the traditional month for weddings and perhaps this was not the traditional 19th century wedding. We are happy to share this history with our visiting public,” she added.  In rural America during the 19th century, public morals played a large role in community life.  This wedding not only unites Sally and Sol as husband and wife, but also restores Sally to respectability.  Her life style seems to have been too freewheeling for her era.  In the spirit of forgiveness, her family, friends and co-workers will gather to wish her well on her wedding day

This wedding commemorates a documented marriage between a white woman and a man “of color”.  Racial terms from the 19th century remain vague, but clearly the groom is recognized as not being of European background.  The happy couple received a housing assignment at Hopewell that demonstrates the lack of segregation in living arrangements on the property.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves and interprets the story of an early American industrial landscape from extraction to enlightened conservation.  It is surrounded on three sides by French Creek State Park.   Showcasing an iron plantation and its surrounding village, the park rest rooms and grounds including miles of hiking trails are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  The park stays open Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day and is closed other federal holidays.  The buildings are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off Route 345.  Admission to Hopewell Furnace (Village) is $4 for visitors who are 16 & older.  Children younger than 16 are admitted free, as are holders of Hopewell Furnace Park Passes and other National Park Passes (Senior/Access/Annual).  No entrance fees are charged in January & February.  For more information stop by the park’s visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/hofu, or contact us by e-mail at hofu_superintendent@nps.gov.   Visitors with specific needs should contact the park for assistance

2 comments… add one

  • Ted DeLaney Jun 19, 2008

    Also remember the Supreme Court’s important ruling in April 1967: Loving vs. Virginia. Richard Loving a white man had violated Virginia law by marrying Mildred a black woman. The court struck down Virginia’s ban against interracial marriages.

  • Kevin Levin Jun 19, 2008

    Professor DeLaney, — Thanks for reminding me of this landmark Supreme Court case. I commented on it not too long ago at the time of Mildred Loving’s death.

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