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The term's historical use in contexts that typically implied disapproval is also a reason why more unambiguously neutral terms such as interracial, interethnic or cross-cultural are more common in contemporary usage.
In Spanish, Portuguese, and French, the words used to describe the mixing of races are mestizaje, mestiçagem and métissage.
Before the publication of Miscegenation, the word amalgamation, borrowed from metallurgy, had been in use as a general term for ethnic and racial intermixing.
A contemporary usage of this metaphor was that of Ralph Waldo Emerson's private vision in 1845 of America as an ethnic and racial smelting-pot, a variation on the concept of the melting pot. S on the desirability of such intermixing, including that between white Protestants and Irish Catholic immigrants, were divided.
These words, much older than the term miscegenation, are derived from the Late Latin mixticius for "mixed", which is also the root of the Spanish word mestizo.
(Portuguese also uses miscigenação, derived from the same Latin root as the English word.) These non-English terms for "race-mixing" are not considered as offensive as "miscegenation", although they have historically been tied to the caste system (casta) that was established during the colonial era in Spanish-speaking Latin America.
There was already much opposition to the war effort.
The issue of miscegenation, raised by the opponents of Abraham Lincoln, featured prominently in the election campaign of 1864.
In the United States, miscegenation has referred primarily to the intermarriage between whites and non-whites, especially blacks.
The differences between related terms and words which encompass aspects of racial admixture show the impact of different historical and cultural factors leading to changing social interpretations of race and ethnicity.
Thus the Comte de Montlosier, in exile during the French Revolution, equated class difference in 18th-century France with racial difference. in 1863, and the etymology of the word is tied up with political conflicts during the American Civil War over the abolition of slavery and over the racial segregation of African-Americans.
The Nuremberg Laws classified Jews as a race, and forbade extramarital sexual relations and marriage between persons classified as "Aryan" and "non-Aryan".