Added: April 4, 2015 – Last updated: November 7, 2015


Speaker: Peter W. Bardaglio

Title: Sexual Assault, Fraud, and Womanhood in the Victorian South

Subtitle: -

Conference: Annual Meeting of the American Society for Legal History (October 17-19, 1996)

Session: New Perspectives on Southern Women and the Law During Reconstruction

Place: Richmond, Virginia, United States

Date: October 19, 1996

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century | American History: U.S. History | Victims: Unconsciousness


Link: -


Abstract: »"Sexual Assault, Fraud, and Womanhood in the Victorian South," by PETER W. BARDAGLIO of Goucher College, examines state legislation and appellate court opinions from the nineteenth century involving black and white men accused of committing fraud in sexual assaults on women. Southern states during the midnineteenth century passed legislation making it a crime to administer to a woman, "without her knowledge or consent, some substance producing unnatural sexual desire, or such stupor as prevents or weakens resistance." In addition, fraud included any "stratagem by which the woman is induced to believe that the offender is her husband." Following the enactment of these laws, a number of cases came before the state supreme courts dealing with rape by fraud. In many of these cases, the defendants were charged with attempting to have intercourse with women who were asleep; others involved the use of chloroform on the women or fictitious marriage ceremonies. The new legislation on impersonating a husband, in particular, underscored the fact that a married man could not be convicted of raping his wife because he gained the right of sexual access upon marriage. The relevant statutes and state supreme court opinions, then, provide a revealing window on attitudes toward sexual violence, marriage, race and gender.« (Source: ASLH Newsletter 27(2) (Winter 1997))

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the Southern United States