Review: Fathers of Conscience: Mixed-Race Inheritance in the Antebellum South

Fathers of Conscience: Mixed-Race Inheritance in the Antebellum South Fathers of Conscience: Mixed-Race Inheritance in the Antebellum South by Bernie D. Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to tag a book "really liked it" when the subject matter is so accurately and depressingly focused not on the rights of enslaved people to inherit (not the issue, essentially they had no rights), but on the rights of white men with guilty consciences to leave money and property to blood relatives who were black.

This work is geared towards attorneys and researchers, and I found it interesting because even though I am not a lawyer, my husband does estates, wills and trusts in Florida. Land inheritance in the rural south to this day can be quite convoluted, but this book deals in particular with men who wanted to provide for their offspring or their children's mothers. Not surprisingly, white relatives who were not direct descendants fought these distributions and the courts had to deal with cases that could vary from state to state.

I'd recommend this book to serious researchers who want to delve into the complexities of a legal system propping up the South's "peculiar institution" and what it meant for the families affected by enslavement, mixed-race relationships and inheritance.

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