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    After the Reconstruction years, blacks and whites Essay

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    often rode together in the same railway cars, ate in the same restaurants, used the same public facilities, but did not often interact as equals. The emergence of large black communities in urban areas and of significant black labor force in factories presented a new challenge to white Southerners. They could not control these new communities in the same informal ways they had been able to control rural blacks, which were more directly dependent on white landowners and merchants than their urban counterparts.

    In the city, blacks and whites were in more direct competition than they had been in the countryside. There was more danger of social mixing, systems of control. In the article “Fencing Off The Negro”, the author gives “reason” and examples of why segregation is needed due to white anxiety in the North. These Jim Crow laws were a response to a new reality that required white supremacy to move to where it would have a rigid legal and institutional basis to retain control over the black population. What had shifted was not their commitment to white supremacy, but the things necessary to preserve it. BIRTH OF JIM CROWFirst, it is necessary to understand the creation of “Jim Crow.

    ” The first expression of the term “Jim Crow” came after it was used to describe a Cincinnati black face song and dance team on the New York Stage as early as 1832. But the first racial use of Jim Crow, however, appeared during 1841 in Massachusetts when it became a colloquial term applied to a separate Negro railway car. “Jim Crow” now has widespread use as the popular meaning for discrimination and segregation of African Americans. In fact, it has now become firmly established in our American language, mores, and laws-especially in the Southern states where it is the openly accepted pattern of keeping the African American “in his/her rightful place. ” It has also become accepted as standard English usage for a number of years and some Southern statutes have indexed their laws under the letter (1-2, Dees). Sociologically, the words “Jim Crow” refer to the concept of accommodation or process of adjustment by the “inferior” Black to the “superior” Caucasian group.

    “Jim Crow”, therefore, describes the accommodation of the African American to the above social pattern-an accommodation to a racial struggle that has existed over 300 years. In brief, it applies to the position of the African American in American Society and the words “Jim Crow” are synonymous to the words-“segregation” and “discrimination” (2, Dees). SUPREME COURT AND JIM CROWThe Supreme Court’s involvement in racial segregation during the first two decades of the twentieth century was rooted in the last two decades of the nineteenth, when the Court turned away from the constitutional claims of Reconstruction. Among the many nineteenth century decisions that played a role, two carried the main burden of repudiation: the Civil Rights Cases, decided in 1883, and Plessy v. Ferguson, decided in 1896. These cases dealt with racial segregation in railroads or other public accommodations; the first involved the constitutionality of a federal statute prohibiting it, the second state statute requiring it (514, Finkleman).

    Segregation first became a major political issue in the 1870’s as many private railroads and street car companies, theaters, hotels, and restaurants excluded blacks altogether or set them apart in Jim Crow areas. The practice was not much more extensive in the South than in the North. The concerted and much publicized resistance of blacks to these insults helped Senator Charles Sumner drive congressional Republicans to what was both the crown principle of racial equality in American law (515,Finkleman). In 1883, when the Supreme Court finally decided the dozens of cases dealing with the Civil Rights Act of 1875 constitutionality, the Court’s opinion was authored by Justice Joseph P. Bradley, who had cast the deciding vote in the Electoral Commission which threw the election of 1876 to Rutherford B.

    Hayes and set in motion the complex series of political events that historians have termed the Compromise of 1877, marking the end of the Reconstruction period (516, Finkleman). An ardent Unionist from New Jersey, a supporter of Lincoln and Grant, a backer of the Civil War .

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