Race, The Constitution, and the Jim Crow Era

Contents:
top of page
Dates of pre-Civil War abolition laws
Party control of federal government
Major Civil Rights laws of Reconstruction
Redemption
Post-Redemption politics in the South
Progress of disfranchisement
Establishment of segregation
The political environment of Jim Crow
Court cases on civil rights
Federal efforts for and against civil rights after Reconstruction
Immigration & citizenship issues interacting with black civil rights

Dates of pre-Civil War abolition laws

  • (Vermont 1777) (statehood 1791)
  • Pennsylvania 1780
  • New Hampshire 1783
  • Massachusetts 1783
  • Connecticut 1784
  • Rhode Island 1784
  • Northwest Ordinance 1787
  • New York 1799
  • New Jersey 1804
  • Missouri Compromise 1820
  • California statehood 1850—slave vs. free state imbalance created
  • (Kansas-Nebraska Act “popular sovereignty” supersedes Missouri Compromise 1854)
  • Minnesota 1858
  • Oregon 1859
  • Kansas 1861 (following 1858 rejection of the 1857 “Lecompton constitution”)

Elections and party control

Detailed statistics on election results: Leip's election atlas

Party control of federal government branches after Reconstruction

CongresselectedsessionHouse
majority
Senate
majority
Presidency
44th18741875-77DRR (Grant)
45th18761877-79DRR (Hayes)
46th18781879-81DDR (Hayes)
47th18801881-83RRR (Garfield, Arthur)
48th18821883-85DRR (Arthur)
49th18841885-87DRD (Cleveland)
50th18861887-89DRD (Cleveland)
51st18881889-91RRR (Harrison)
52nd18901891-93DRR (Harrison)
53rd18921893-95DDD (Cleveland)
54th18941895-97RRD (Cleveland)
55th18961897-99RRR (McKinley)
56th18981899-1901RRR (McKinley, Roosevelt)
57th19001901-03RRR (Roosevelt)
58th19021903-05RRR (Roosevelt)
59th19041905-07RRR (Roosevelt)
60th19061907-09RRR (Roosevelt)
61st19081909-11RRR (Taft)
62th19101911-13DRR (Taft)
63th19121913-15DDD (Wilson)
64th19141915-17DDD (Wilson)
65th19161917-19D+PrDD (Wilson)
66th19181919-21RRD (Wilson)
67th19201921-23RRR (Harding, Coolidge)
68th19221923-25RRR (Coolidge)
69th19241925-27RRR (Coolidge)
70th19261927-29RRR (Coolidge)
71st19281929-31RRR (Hoover)
72nd19301931-33DRR (Hoover)
Contents:
top of page
Dates of pre-Civil War abolition laws
Party control of federal government
Major Civil Rights laws of Reconstruction
Redemption
Post-Redemption politics in the South
Progress of disfranchisement
Establishment of segregation
The political environment of Jim Crow
Court cases on civil rights
Federal efforts for and against civil rights after Reconstruction
Immigration & citizenship issues interacting with black civil rights

The major civil rights provisions of Reconstruction

The 14th Amendment (certified 28 July 1868)

  • Section 1:
    • "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."
    • "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;"
    • "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;" [Compare the fifth amendment's wording: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"]
    • "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
  • Section 2: punitive apportionment if any males over 21 are denied the vote
  • Section 3: disqualification for office
  • Section 4: no repayment from U.S or any state for Confederate debt
  • Section 5: Congress authorized to enforce

The 15th Amendment (certified March 30, 1870)

  • Section 1. Vote not to be limited by U.S. or any state "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
  • Section 2. Enforcement clause

Civil rights laws (and anti-CR laws) put into effect during & after Reconstruction

  • Civil Rights Act of 1866: citizenship; equality before the law
  • Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1866: land redistribution provisions (little implemented); public schools for blacks; military court jurisdiction on certain civil rights issues.
  • 3 Enforcement Acts 1870-71
    • Only 6000 federal troops outside Texas at beginning of period; however, initially vigorous enforcement by the new DoJ and federal troops, notably in SC, virtually eliminated the KKK by 1872.
    • Enforcement Act of 1870 (16 Stat. 140)
      • Sec. 2-3 requiring state officers to enforce all voting requirement equally regardless of race, subject to fine; and overriding disqualifications that result from violations.
      • Sec. 4-5-6, aimed at the KKK and similar organizations, made it a federal crime to hinder voting “by force, bribery, threats, intimidation, or other unlawful means,” by economic pressures, or to conspire to do so, or to parade or demonstrate in disguise in order to intimidate, subject to fine & imprisonment.
    • Enforcement Act of 1871 (16 Stat. 433), aimed primarily at voting rights in Northern cities, provided federal oversight of state & local elections upon petition of any two citizens in a town, and increased penalties for discrimination.
    • Ku Klux Klan Act (Second Enforcement Act of 1871) (17 Stat. 13) made state officials liable in federal court for depriving anyone of civil rights or equal protection; authorized Pres to call out militia and to suspend habeas vs. anti-CR conspiracies.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875: public facilities
  • Civil Rights Repeal Act 28 Stat. 36 (1894): “An Act To repeal all statutes relating to supervisors of elections and special deputy marshals, and for other purposes” (Feb 8, 1894).

 

Redemption

First election in which Dems regain control of governorship & both chambers

  • 1869 Tennessee, Virginia
  • 1872 Georgia
  • 1873 Texas
  • 1874 Arkansas, Alabama
  • 1876 North Carolina, as well as Louisiana & Florida following Compromise of 1877
    • Louisiana legislative election outcomes were disputed in 1872, 1874 as well --> 2 legislatures during those periods
  • 1877 Mississippi (actually in 1876 when Dem-controlled legislature forced Gov. Ames’s resignation)
  • 1878 South Carolina

 

Contents:
top of page
Dates of pre-Civil War abolition laws
Party control of federal government
Major Civil Rights laws of Reconstruction
Redemption
Post-Redemption politics in the South
Progress of disfranchisement
Establishment of segregation
The political environment of Jim Crow
Court cases on civil rights
Federal efforts for and against civil rights after Reconstruction
Immigration & citizenship issues interacting with black civil rights

Post-redemption politics in the South

  • Populists / “radicals” vs. Bourbons (“conservatives”)
  • blacks and poorer rural whites as pivotal groups
  • national prominence: 1892 Populist presidential candidate James B. Weaver wins 22 Electoral votes
  • southern populist successes at the state level:
    • Readjuster Party dominance in Virginia, 1870-1883 (moderate Dems + black and white Repubs)
    • Populist Party victories in southern states: 1890s Georgia (Tom Watson); 1880s-90s Louisiana
    • North Carolina Republican-Populist fusion victories in NC: 1894, 1896; pushed out by Dems' white supremacy campaign in 1898.

 

Progress of disfranchisement

 

  • 1871 first Georgia poll tax law; 1876 Mississippi, 1877 Virginia, others
  • 1890 new Mississippi constitution
  • 1895 South Carolina
  • 1898 Louisiana
  • -- Williams decision 1898--
  • 1900 North Carolina (amendment)
  • 1901 Alabama
  • 1901-02 Virginia
  • 1908 Georgia (amendment)
  • 1910 Oklahoma

 

 

Establishment of segregation

 

  • before Civil War: some "Jim Crow cars" on Northern rail lines; segregation of schools was not unusual
  • 1869 Virginia passed ban on integrated schools, followed by others in 1870s
  • 1881-83 Tennessee laws requiring segregated railroad cars
  • 1890 Louisiana railroad-car segregation law (the subject of Plessy)
  • huge upsurge in 1890s

 

The political environment of Jim Crow

 

Black reaction:

  • organization slow to develop: had trusted southern Democrats under various “fusion” governments
  • accomodationist strain: Booker T. Washington (1895 Atlanta Compromise speech; Tuskeegee Institute)
  • NAACP founded 1909. For history, see http://www.naacp.org/about/about_history.html
    • Birth of a Nation boycott 1915
    • Successfully lobbyied presidents Wilson, Harding for statements against lynching
    • Courtroom representation in outrageous criminal prosecutions, beginning Moore v. Dempsey 1923
    • Subsequent anti-segregation litigation strategy, beginning 1930s.
  • As of 1920s, active support for equality and integration were limited: NAACP, a few white intellectuals (Dewey, Boas, Benedict)
  • Influential black nationalist/separatist movement under Marcus Garvey UNIA, 1920s

"Scientific racism"

Racial attitudes even among most white progressives were unfavorable to black political/social equality or to integration. Influenced by

  • Darwin Origin of Species (1859), The Descent of Man (1871)
  • Herbert Spencer Social Statics (1851)
  • Flowering of the "Teutonic germ theory" in history and political science late 1800s until 1930s
    • John W. Burgess (Hopkins Poli Sci, 1876-1901) helped found Dunning School on historiography of Reconstruction (named after political scientist William A. Dunning, Columbia U prof about 1890-1922), unchallenged until the mid-1930s.
    • Educated a huge crop of U.S. leader including Lodge, T. Roosevelt, Wilson

 

Voter turnout 1840-1972. 1872 Election begins at 0:19.

 

 

Court cases on civil rights

 

"Anti"

  • Blyew et al. v. U.S. (1873) indirectly (by tendentiously holding that the witnesses were not relevant) approved Kentucky prohibition of black witness testimony
  • Slaughterhouse Cases (1873) New Orleans butchers vs. Reconstruction govt’s health regulations; minimized privileges and immunities deriving from U.S. citizenship
  • U.S. v. Cruikshank (1875) invalidated enforcement of Enforcement Act of 1870 upon private persons
  • U.S. v. Reese (1875) invalidated Enforcement Act of 1870 provision for punishing electoral officials who deprive citizens of voting rights via election fraud for exceeding Cong. power to regulate elections
  • U.S. v. Harris (1883) appeal of federal conviction of a lynch party (led by a sheriff!) under Section 2 of the (Second) Force Act of 1871, pertaining to conspiracies against govt or against civil rights (i.e. the KKK Act), which the Court ruled applied only to state action, not to state inaction.
  • Civil Rights Cases (1883) invalidated CRA of 1875 on public accommodations
  • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) approved "separate but equal" facilities
  • Cumming v. Richmond County Bd. of Ed. (1899); Gong Lum v. Rice (1927); and other cases applied Plessy to uphold segregation in education
  • Williams v. Mississippi (1898) refused to invalidate voter qualification laws
  • Giles v. Harris (1903) refused to enforce voter registration practice
  • Corrigan v. Buckley (1926) sustaining private housing discrimination
  • Grovey v. Townsend (1935) upholding a white primary because run by Dem party rather than by state.

"Pro"

  • Strauder v. West Virginia (1880) states can't exclude from juries by race (under equal protection clause)
  • Ex parte Yarbrough (1883) upheld the Enforcement Act of 1870 as a proper exercise of the 15th Amendment enforcement clause
  • McCabe v. AT&SF (1914): equality (under Plessy) requires access to facilities regardless of low demand
  • Guinn v. U.S. (1915) struck down Oklahoma grandfather clause (under 15th Amendment)
  • Buchanan v. Warley (1917) govt-mandated housing segregation violates 14th under freedom of contract ("depriv[ation] of... liberties")
  • Moore v. Dempsey (1923) struck down conviction due to deprivation of due process rights (14th)
  • Nixon v. Herndon (1927) struck down state-mandated white primary in Texas
  • Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938) if state provides its own law school for blacks, it must do so for whites. Often said to mark the beginning of reconsideration of Plessy.

 

"Lynching in America: Statistics, Information, Images" from Douglas Linder's (UMKC) "Famous Trials" website.

 

 

Federal efforts both for and against civil rights after Reconstruction

 

  • 1881 Garfield inaugural address
  • 1890-91 Republicans attempt to pass Federal Elections Bill (Lodge); passes House, filibustered in Senate
  • 1895 Democrats repeal three Enforcement Acts of 1870-71
  • 1899, 1901: Republicans introduce bills to reduce Southern representation under section 2 of the 14th Amendment.
  • 1901 Pres. Roosevelt meets with B.T. Washington in White House
  • 1913 Pres. Wilson allows segregation in Treasury, Post Office, Navy Dept.
  • 1913, 1915 Dems introduce bills to outlaw mixed marriage in DC (passed with lopsided bipartisan support in House; dies in committee in Senate)
  • 1920 Republican platform & Harding support anti-lynching law
  • 1922 Dyer anti-lynching bill passes House, filibustered in Senate with weak support from Repubs
  • 1924, 1928 perfunctory Repub support for anti-lynching bills
  • 1934 Dems introduce anti-lynching bills; filibustered in Senate 1935
  • (more introduced 1937-40, some by Republicans)
  • 1938, 1940 Dem bills again filibustered in Senate, now with Republicans opposing cloture.
  • Limited New Deal policies
    • inclusion of blacks in WPA
    • support for local discrimination in manyother programs e.g. via CCC segregation, NIRA racial wage differentials, SS exclusion of ag & dom workers)
    • 1941 by executive order, FDR creates Fair Employment Practices Commissions to monitor hiring in defense industries.
  • Truman
    • Truman exec order 1946 creating President’s Committee on Civil Rights; their 1947 report To Secure These Rights
    • 1948 Truman exec order desegregating the armed forces

 

Immigration & citizenship issues interacting with black civil rights