Although slavery was gradually abolished in the North after independence, this at first had little impact on the enforcement of anti-miscegenation laws.
In 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Loving v.
Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. The first laws criminalizing marriage and sex between whites and blacks were enacted in the colonial era in the English colonies of Virginia and Maryland, which depended economically on unpaid labor such as slavery.
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While anti-miscegenation laws are often regarded as a Southern phenomenon, most western and plains states also enacted them.
Although anti-miscegenation amendments were proposed in United States Congress in 1871, 1912–19, a nationwide law against racially mixed marriages was never enacted.
By outlawing "interracial" marriage, it became possible to keep these two new groups separated and prevent a new rebellion.
In 1776, seven out of the Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence enforced laws against interracial marriage.
Virginia (1691) was the first English colony in North America to pass a law forbidding free blacks and whites to intermarry, followed by Maryland in 1692.
This was the first time in American history that a law was invented that restricted access to marriage partners solely on the basis of "race", not class or condition of servitude.
Some historians have suggested that the at-the-time unprecedented laws banning "interracial" marriage were originally invented by planters as a divide-and-rule tactic after the uprising of European and African indentured servants in cases such as Bacon's Rebellion.