All freedmen...over the age
of eighteen years, found on the second Monday in January, 1866,
or thereafter, with no lawful employment or business, or found
unlawfully assembling themselves together, either in the day
or night time, and all white persons so assembling with freedmen...shall
be deemed vagrants, and on conviction thereof shall be fined
in the sum of not exceeding in the crease of a freedman...fifty
dollars, and a white man two hundred dollars, and imprisoned
at the discretion of the court....
And in case of any freedman...shall fail for five days after
the imposition of any fine...for violation of this act...it shall
be ...the duty of the sheriff...to hire out said freedman...to
any person who will, for the shortest period of service, pay
Mississippi Black Code, 1865
This is an institution of Chivalry,
Humanity, Mercy, and Patriotism...its peculiar objects being...to
protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless, from the
indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent
and the brutal; to relieve the injured and oppressed; to succor
the suffering and unfortunate, and especially the widows and
orphans of Confederate soldiers....
Interrogations to Be Asked
5th. Are you opposed to Negro equality, both social and political?
6th. Are you in favor of a white man's government in this country?
Principles of the Ku Klux Klan
These men are not only armed,
disciplined, oath-bound members of the Confederate army, but
they work in disguise; and their instruments are terror and crime....They
pretended, I believe, in the outset to be representative ghosts
of the Confederate dead...and they terrified men, women and children,
white and black....They are secret, oath-bound; they murder,
rob, plunder, whip, and scourge; and they commit these crimes,
not upon the high and lofty, but upon the lowly, upon the poor,
upon feeble men and women who are utterly defenseless.
Senator John Sherman on the
Ku Klux Klan, 1871
It is assumed that the power
of Congress [includes the] authority for declaring by law that
all persons shall have equal accommodations and privileges in
all inns, public conveyances, and places of public amusement;
the argument being that the denial of such equal accommodations
and privileges is in itself a subjection to a species of servitude
within the meaning of the [Thirteenth] amendment....
Can the act of a mere individual, the owner of the train, the
public conveyance, or place of amusement, refusing the accommodation,
be justly regarded as imposing any badge of slavery.... We are
forced to the conclusion that such an act if refusal has nothing
to do with slavery or involuntary servitude. Mere discriminations
on account of race [is] not regarded as badges of slavery.
Supreme Court invalidates the
postwar Civil Rights Act in the Civil Rights Cases, 1883
We consider the underlying
fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption
that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored
race with a badge of inferiority....The argument also assumes
that social prejudices may be overcome by legislation, and that
equal rights cannot be secured to the Negro except by an enforced
commingling of the two races....
Legislation is powerless to
eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon
physical differences, and the attempt to do so can only result
in accentuating the difficulties of the present situation. If
the civil and political rights of both races be equal one cannot
be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race
be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United
States cannot put them upon the same plane.
Supreme Court upholds segregation
in Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
The white race deems itself
to be the dominant race in this country....But in view of the
Constitution...there is in this country no superior, dominant,
ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution
is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among
citizens. In respects of civil rights, all citizens are equal
before the law.
Justice John Harlan's dissent,
I do not think it was ever
intended by the Creator that the two races should live together
upon equal terms...One or the other must rule. The people of
the South tried to share with the Negro the government of the
country after the war, but the Negro declined to share with the
white man. Black heels rested cruelly upon white necks for many
years after the close of the war. The white man endured the Negro's
misrule, his insolence, impudence, and infamy. He suffered his
criminal incapacity to govern until the public domain had been
well-nigh squandered and the public treasury looted....We invoked
the law of self-preservation; we arose in the might of an outraged
race and...the southern white man drove from power the scalawag,
the carpetbagger, and the incompetent Negro.
James K. Vardaman, 1914
Our greatest danger is that
in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the
fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of
our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in
proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour and
put brains and skill into the common occupations of life....
You [white Southerners] can
be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families
will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding,
and unresentful people that the world has seen....In all things
that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers,
yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.
Booker T. Washington, 1895
As a result of this tender
of the palm-branch, what has been the return? In these years
that have occurred:
1. The disenfranchisement of the Negro.
2. The legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority
for the Negro.
3. The steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher
training of the Negro.
These movements are not, to be sure, direct results of Mr. Washington's
teachings; but his propagandas, without a shadow of doubt, helped
their speedier accomplishment.
W.E.B. DuBois, 1903
I believe Booker T. Washington's
heart is right, but that in fawning, cringing and groveling before
the white man he has cost his race their rights, and that twenty
years hence, as he looks back and sees the harm his course has
done his race, he will be brokenhearted over it.
Charles Satchel Morris, 1906
While most of us were agonizing
over the Negro's relation to the State and his political fortunes,
Booker Washington saw that there was a great economic empire
that needed to be conquered. He saw an emancipated race chained
to the soil by the Mortgage Crop System, and other devices, and
he said, "You must own your own farms"--and forthwith
there was a second emancipation. He saw the industrial trades
and skilled labor pass from our race into other hands. he said,
"The hands as well as the head must be educated."
William Henry Lewis, 1915