Laws, Customs and Rights: Charles Hatfield and His Family, A Louisiana History


Laws, Customs and Rights: Charles Hatfield and His Family, A Louisiana History - Evelyn L. Wilson. Laws, Customs and Rights tells a story of Charles Hatfield, Jr., his family, and the segregation laws he sought to change. The story begins with Hatfield's maternal great-grandfather, George Douse, a free mulatto, who settled in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, in the early 1820s. It includes Thomas and Mary Purnell, one white and one black, who raised children and grew old together, though they could not marry because of their race. Their daughter, Ann Maria Purnell, married George Douse's son, Richard Douse, a Civil War veteran and a member of Louisiana's 2nd regiment, Native Guards, a U.S. Army unit formed of black soldiers without Presidential approval. Richard and Ann's grandchild, Charles Hatfield, Jr., sued Louisiana's only state-supported law school in 1946 to force it to desegregate. In response to Hatfield's suit, the state of Louisiana established a law school at Southern University, the state's separate school for its black citizens.

The book documents these events using minutes of meetings and related correspondence. It provides histories of the black and white state universities and compares their law schools. The book tracks Hatfield's genealogy but also examines the Louisiana in which the Purnells, Douses, and Hatfields lived, discussing those events most relevant to their lives. Using original and secondary sources, it tells a history of how slavery and segregation shaped the choices available to and selected by family members, and traces the family's history against the background of Louisiana's history from 1817 to 2002. Pictures of Hatfields and Douses; and quotes from original sources, including acts of emancipation, correspondence, army enrollment and discharge papers, and court documents enhance this well-documented work.

(2004), 2006, 5½x8½, paper, 226 pp.

ISBN: 9781585499427