Disfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1870 to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War. It prevented any state from denying the right to vote to any male citizen on account of his race.
During the Reconstruction era, blacks constituted absolute majorities of the populations in Mississippi and South Carolina, were equal to the white population in Louisiana, and represented over 40% of the population in four other former Confederate states. Southern whites resisted the freedmen's exercise of political power, fearing black domination. White supremacist paramilitary organizations, allied with the Southern Conservatives of the Democratic Party, practiced intimidation, violence and assassinations to repress and prevent blacks exercising their civil and voting rights in elections from 1868 through the mid-1870s. In most Southern states, black voting decreased markedly under such pressure, and white Democrats regained political control of Southern legislatures and governors' offices in the 1870s. As a result of a national compromise related to the controversial election in 1876, the federal government withdrew its forces from the South in 1877.
Starting with the Georgia poll tax in 1877, white Southern legislatures passed statutes that created more barriers to voting by blacks and poor whites. Results could be seen in states such as Tennessee. After Reconstruction, Tennessee had the most "consistently competitive political system in the South". A bitter election battle in 1888, marked by unmatched corruption and violence, resulted in white Democrats' taking over the state legislature. To consolidate their power, they worked to suppress the black vote and sharply reduced it through changes in voter registration, election procedures and poll taxes.
From 1890 to 1908, starting with Mississippi, conservative Southern Democratic legislators created new constitutions with provisions for voter registration that effectively completed disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites. They created a variety of barriers, including requirements for poll taxes, residency requirements, rule variations, literacy and understanding tests, that achieved power through selective application against minorities, or were particularly hard for the poor to fulfill.
The constitutional provisions survived Supreme Court challenges in cases such as Williams v. Mississippi (1898) and Giles v. Harris (1903). In practice, these provisions, including white primaries, created a maze that blocked most blacks and many poor whites from voting in Southern states for decades after the turn of the 20th century. Voter registration and turnout dropped sharply across the South. The consequences and longevity of disfranchisement can be seen at the feature "Turnout for Presidential and Midterm Elections" at the University of Texas at Austin Politics: Historical Barriers to Voting page. It shows results for Texas, the South overall, and the rest of the United States.
Disfranchisement attracted the attention of Congress, and in 1900 some members proposed stripping the South of seats, related to the number of people who were barred from voting, as apportionment of seats was based on total population (with the assumption of the usual number of voting males). In the end, Congress did not act to change apportionment, partly because of the power of the Southern bloc. For decades, white Southern Democrats exercised Congressional representation derived from a full count of the population, but they disfranchised several million black and white citizens. Southern white Democrats comprised a powerful voting bloc in Congress until the mid-20th century. Their representatives, re-elected repeatedly by one-party states, exercised the power of seniority, controlling numerous chairmanships of important committees in both houses. Their power allowed them to defeat federal legislation against lynching and have control over rules, budgets and important patronage projects, among other issues.
- 1 Reconstruction, KKK, and Redemption
- 2 State disfranchising constitutions, 1890-1908
- 3 Black and white disfranchisement
- 4 Congressional response
- 5 20th century Supreme Court decisions
- 6 Civil rights movement
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Reconstruction, KKK, and Redemption
Between 1864 and 1866, ten of the eleven Confederate states inaugurated governments that did not provide suffrage and equal civil rights to freedmen. Because of this, Congress refused to readmit these states to the Union. It established military districts to oversee affairs until the state governments could be reconstructed and freedmen's constitutional rights protected.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) formed in 1865 in Tennessee and quickly became a powerful secret vigilante group, with chapters across the South, during early Reconstruction. It was one form of insurgency after the Civil War, as armed veterans in the South began varied forms of resistance to social changes. Starting in 1866, the KKK tried to prevent black Americans from voting and from participating in government affairs. The Klan initiated a campaign of intimidation marked by lynchings and other acts of violence directed against blacks and allied whites, including vandalization and destruction of their property. Teachers who came down from the North to teach freedmen were sometimes attacked or intimidated as well.
Federal enforcement of the Force Act of 1870 was used to reduce the power of the KKK. The Federal government banned acts of terror, force, or bribery to prevent someone from voting because of his race. It empowered the President to deploy the armed forces to suppress organizations that deprived people of rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Organizations whose members appeared in arms was considered in rebellion against the United States. The President could suspend habeas corpus under those circumstances.
President Ulysses S. Grant used these provisions in parts of the Carolinas in the fall of 1871. United States marshals supervised state voter registrations and elections and could summon the help of military or naval forces if needed.
More significant in terms of their effects were paramilitary organizations that arose in the mid and late 1870s as part of continuing insurgent resistance in the South. Such groups included the White League, formed in Louisiana in 1874 out of white militias, with chapters forming in other Deep South states; the Red Shirts, formed in 1875 in Mississippi but also active in North Carolina and South Carolina; and other "White Liners," such as rifle clubs. Compared to the Klan, they were open societies, better organized, and often solicited newspaper coverage for publicity. The scale of operations was such that in 1876, North Carolina had 20,000 members of rifle clubs. Made up of well-armed Confederate veterans, a class that covered most adult men who could have fought in the war, they worked for political aims: to turn Republicans out of office, disrupt their organizing, and use force to intimidate and terrorize freedmen to keep them from the polls. They have been described as "the military arm of the Democratic Party." These groups were instrumental in many southern states in driving blacks away from the polls and ensuring a white Democratic takeover of legislatures and governorships in most states during the elections of 1876.
State disfranchising constitutions, 1890-1908
Despite white Southerners' complaints about Reconstruction, several of the Southern states had kept most provisions of their Reconstruction constitutions for more than two decades, until late in the 19th century. In some states, the number of blacks elected to local offices reached a peak in the 1880s although Reconstruction had ended. Subsequently, state legislatures passed restrictive laws that made election rules and voter registration more complicated. In addition, most legislatures drafted new constitutions. Florida approved a new constitution in 1885 that included provisions for poll taxes as a prerequisite for voter registration and voting. From 1890 to 1908, ten of the eleven Southern states rewrote their constitutions. All included provisions that restricted voter registration and suffrage, including new requirements for poll taxes, residency, and subjective literacy tests.
With educational improvements, the rate of black illiteracy in the South by 1891 had declined to 58%. The white rate of illiteracy in the South was 31%. Some states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from literacy tests. Other states required otherwise eligible black voters to meet literacy and knowledge requirements to the satisfaction of white registrars, who applied subjective measurements and, in the process, rejected most black voters. By 1900, the majority of blacks were literate, but even many of the best-educated of these men continued to "fail" literacy tests administered by white registrars.
The historian J. Morgan Kousser noted, "Within the Democratic party, the chief impetus for restriction came from the black belt members," whom he identified as "always socioeconomically privileged." In addition to wanting to affirm white supremacy, the planter and business elite were also concerned about voting by lower-class and uneducated whites. Kousser found, "They disfranchised these whites as willingly as they deprived blacks of the vote." Perman noted the goals of disfranchisement resulted from several factors. Competition between white elites and white lower classes, for example, and a desire to prevent alliances between lower-class white and black Americans, as had been seen in Populist-Republican alliances, both served to motivate voter restrictions.
With the passage of new constitutions, Southern states adopted provisions that caused disfranchisement of large portions of their populations by skirting US constitutional protections of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. While their voter registration requirements applied to all citizens, in practice they disfranchised most blacks and also "would remove [from voter registration rolls] the less educated, less organized, more impoverished whites as well - and that would ensure one-party Democratic rules through most of the 20th century in the South."
A number of negative effects were associated with Reconstruction. For some members of the Republican Party, Reconstruction was viewed as an opportunity to humiliate Southern whites in defeat. This treatment so infuriated and consolidated Southerners that they flocked to the Democrats, where they remained for virtually a hundred years. For the national Democratic Party, the alignment after Reconstruction resulted in a Southern anchor that was useful for congressional clout, but at the same time inhibited the party from fulfilling center-left initiatives prior to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
As white Democrats regained political power in the South in the 1870s, they worked to suppress black voting. The Red Shirts (Southern United States) and White League intimidated and attacked black voters. Secondly, the Democratic legislatures passed Jim Crow laws to assert white supremacy, establish racial segregation in public facilities, and treat blacks as second-class citizens. Their new constitutions passed Supreme Court challenges, but effectively disfranchised blacks. In cases where a particular restriction was overruled by the Supreme Court in the early 20th century, states quickly devised new methods of excluding most blacks from voting. The landmark court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) held that "separate but equal" facilities, as on railroad cars, was constitutional.
Black and white disfranchisement
In Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and in some northern and western states, proof of having paid taxes or poll taxes was made a prerequisite to voting. The poll tax was sometimes used alone or together with a literacy qualification. Georgia began by passing a cumulative poll tax in 1877: men of any race 21 to 60 years of age had to pay a sum of money for every year from the time they had turned 21, or from the time that the law took effect. Virginia used this policy until 1882 and resumed it again in 1902. Texas added a requirement for a poll tax by state law in 1901. Such taxes excluded poor whites as well as blacks at the turn of the 20th century. Many states required payment of the poll tax at a time separate from the election, and then required voters to bring receipts with them to the polls. If they could not locate such receipts, they could not vote.In addition, many states surrounded registration and voting with complex record-keeping requirements. These were particularly difficult for sharecropper and tenant farmers to comply with, as they moved frequently.
Educational and character requirements
Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina established an educational requirement, with review by a local registrar of a voter's qualifications. In 1898 Georgia rejected such a device.
Alabama delegates at first hesitated, out of concern that illiterate whites would lose their votes. After it was stipulated that the new constitution would not disfranchise any white voters and that it would be submitted to the people for ratification, Alabama was able to pass an educational requirement. It was ratified at the polls in November of 1901. Its distinctive feature was the "good character clause" (also known as the "grandfather clause"). An appointment board in each county could register "all voters under the present [previous] law" who were veterans or the lawful descendants of such, and "all who are of good character and understand the duties and obligations of citizenship." This gave the board authority essentially to approve voters on a case-by-case basis, and they acted to enfranchise whites and reject blacks, most of whom had been slaves and did not have military service.
South Carolina, Louisiana, and later, Virginia incorporated educational requirements as part of their new constitutions. In 1902 Virginia adopted a constitution with the "understanding" clause as a literacy test to use until 1904. After that date, Virginia used a poll tax to control suffrage. In addition, application for registration had to be in the applicant's handwriting and written in the presence of the registrar. Thus, someone who could not write, could not vote.
Eight Box Law
By 1882, the Democrats in South Carolina were firmly in power. Republicans were contained in the heavily black counties of Beaufort and Georgetown. Because the state had a large black majority, white Democrats still feared a possible resurgence of black voters at the polls.
To remove the black threat, the General Assembly created an indirect literacy test, called the "Eight Box Law." The law stipulated that there must be separate boxes for each office, and that the voter had to insert the ballot into the corresponding box or it would not count. The ballots could not have party symbols on them. They had to be of a correct size and type of paper. Many ballots were arbitrarily thrown out because they slightly deviated from the proposed requirements. Ballots would also randomly be thrown out if there were more ballots in a box than registered voters.
The multiple ballot box requirements were challenged in court. On May 8, 1895, Judge Goff of the United States Circuit Court declared the provision unconstitutional and enjoined the state from taking further action under it. But in June 1895 the US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Goff and dissolved the injunction, leaving the way open for a convention.
The constitutional convention met on September 10 and adjourned on December 4, 1895. By the new constitution, South Carolina adopted the Mississippi Plan until January 1, 1898. Any male citizen could be registered who was able to read a section of the constitution or to satisfy the election officer that he understood it when read to him. Those thus registered were to remain voters for life.
After passage of its new constitution, South Carolina white legislators were encouraged by the drop in black voters: by 1896, in a state where blacks comprised a majority of the population, only 5,500 black voters had succeeded in registering.
The grandfather clause was a provision that allowed a man to vote if his grandfather or father had voted prior to January 1, 1867. As free people of color had been excluded from voting, virtually no black American in the South could have voted then. The grandfather clause effectively denied all freedmen their right to vote. Free people of color could vote in North Carolina at one time, but were excluded there and elsewhere after the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831.
Justice Benjamin Curtis's dissent in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) had noted that free people of color had the right to vote at the time of the Articles of Confederation (as part of the argument about whether people of African descent could ever be citizens of the new United States):
Of this there can be no doubt. At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens.
The term "grandfather clause" later entered legal terminology to mean a provision of law, whereby an exemption is granted to a person (or thing) from having to meet the requirements of a new or revised law.
With a population evenly divided between races, in 1896 there were 130,334 black voters on the registration rolls and about the same number of whites. The constitution created by Louisiana State legislators in 1898 included the "grandfather" clause. The would-be voter must be able to read and write English or his native tongue or own property assessed at $300 or more. The test for literacy would be made by the voting registrar. Any citizen who was a voter on January 1, 1867, or his son or grandson, or any person naturalized prior to January 1, 1898, if applying for registration before September 1, 1898, might vote, notwithstanding illiteracy or poverty. Separate registration lists were kept for whites and blacks. The constitution of 1898 required a longer term of residence in the state, county, parish, and precinct before voting than did the constitution of 1879.
The effect of these changes on the black population of black voters in Louisiana was nothing short of devastating; by 1900 black voters were reduced from 130,334 in 1896 to 5,320 on the rolls. By 1910, only 730 blacks were registered, less than 0.5% of eligible black men. "In 27 of the state's 60 parishes, not a single black voter was registered any longer; in 9 more parishes, only one black voter was."
In 1894, a coalition of Republicans and Populist Party took control of the North Carolina state legislature (and with it, the ability to elect two US Senators) and elected several US Representatives through electoral fusion. The 1896 election saw even more impressive gains for the fusion coalition; their legislative majority expanded, Republican Daniel Lindsay Russell won the gubernatorial race, and after the election over 1,000 elected or appointed black officials, including US Congressman George Henry White, served the state. In response to this loss of power, the Democrats decided to run on White Supremacy and disfranchisement in the 1898 in an attempt to scare white voters away from the Republican/Populist coalition. After a bitter race-baiting campaign led by future US Senator Furnifold McLendel Simmons and The Raleigh News & Observer's editor and publisher Josephus Daniels, the North Carolina Democrats won the 1898 election and the following 1900 election, and used their power to disfranchise blacks and ensure that Democratic party and white power would not be threatened again.
After passing laws restricting voter registration, state Democrats adopted a constitutional suffrage amendment in 1900. It lengthened the term of residence before registration and enacted both an educational qualification (to be assessed by a registrar, which meant that it could be subjectively applied) and prepayment of poll tax. It exempted from the poll tax only those entitled to vote as of January 1, 1867.
The cumulative effect meant that black voters in North Carolina were completely eliminated from voter rolls during the period from 1896-1904. The growth of their thriving middle class was slowed. In North Carolina and other Southern states, there were also the insidious effects of invisibility: "[W]ithin a decade of disenfranchisement (sic), the white supremacy campaign had erased the image of the black middle class from the minds of white North Carolinians."
In Virginia, Democrats sought disfranchisement in response to a coalition of white and black Republicans with populist Democrats; the coalition had been formalized as the Readjuster Party. The Readjuster Party held control from 1881 to 1883, electing a governor and controlling the legislature, which also elected a US Senator from the state. As in North Carolina, state Democrats were able to divide Readjuster supporters through appeals to White Supremacy. After regaining power, Democrats changed state laws to disfranchise blacks and ensure that their power would not be threatened. An 80-year stretch of Democratic control would end only in the late 1960s after passage of the Voting Rights Act and the collapse of the Byrd Organization machine.
About the turn of the 20th century, the Democratic Party in some southern states began to treat its operations as a "private club" and insist on white primaries, barring black and other minority voters who managed to get through other barriers. These became common for all elections. As the Democratic Party was dominant, barring voters from the primaries meant they could not vote in what was the only competitive contest. After court challenges overturned party decisions to use the white primary, many states passed laws that authorized the Democratic Party to use the white primary. Texas, for instance, passed such a state law in 1923. It was used to bar Mexican Americans as well as black Americans from voting.
Laws or constitutions as of 1900 permitting "white primaries" in former Confederacy
|No. of African Americans||% of Population||Year of law or constitution|
|Texas||622,041||20.40||1901 / 1923 laws|
The North had heard the South's version of Reconstruction abuses, such as financial corruption, high taxes, and incompetent freedmen. Industry wanted to invest in the South and not worry about political problems. In addition, reconciliation between white veterans of the North and South reached a peak in the early 20th century. As historian David Blight demonstrated in Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, reconciliation meant the pushing aside by whites of the major issues of race and suffrage. Southern whites were effective for many years at having their version of history accepted, especially as it was confirmed in ensuing decades by influential historians of the Dunning School at Columbia University and other institutions.
Disfranchisement of black Americans in the South was covered by national newspapers and magazines as new constitutions were created, and many Northerners were outraged and alarmed. In 1900 as the Committee of Census of Congress considered proposals for adding more seats to the House of Representatives because of increased population, Edgar D. Crumpacker (R-IN) proposed stripping Southern states of seats to reflect the numbers of people they had disfranchised. The Committee and House failed to agree on this proposal. Supporters of black suffrage worked to secure Congressional investigation of disfranchisement, but concerted opposition of the Southern Democratic bloc was aroused, and the efforts failed.
From 1896-1900, the House of Representatives had acted in over 30 cases to set aside election results from Southern states where the House Elections Committee had concluded that "black voters had been excluded due to fraud, violence, or intimidation." In the late 1890s, however, it began to back off from its enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment and suggested that state and Federal courts should exercise oversight of this issue.
In 1904 Congress administered a coup de grâce to efforts to investigate disfranchisement in its decision in the 1904 South Carolina election challenge of Dantzler v. Lever. Despite its earlier actions in overturning flawed state elections, the House Committee on Elections upheld Lever's victory. Further, it suggested that citizens of South Carolina who felt their rights were denied should take their cases to the state courts, and ultimately, the Supreme Court. Despite that decision, in later sessions, some members continued to raise the issue of disfranchisement and apportionment. On December 6, 1920, Representative George H. Tinkham from Massachusetts offered a resolution for the Committee of Census to investigate alleged disfranchisement of blacks. His intention was to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. In addition, he believed there should be reapportionment in the House related to the voting population of southern states, rather than the general population as enumerated in the census. Tinkham detailed how outsized the South's representation was related to its total voters:
- States with four representatives:
- Florida, with a total vote of 31,613.
- Colorado, with a total vote of 208,855.
- Maine, with a total vote of 121,836.
- States with six representatives:
- Nebraska, with a total vote of 216,014.
- West Virginia, with a total vote of 211,643.
- South Carolina, given 7 representatives because of its total population (which was majority black), had a total vote of 25,433.
- States with 8 representatives:
- Louisiana, with a total vote of 44,794.
- Kansas, with a total vote of 425,641.
- States with 10 representatives:
- Alabama, with a total vote of 62,345.
- Minnesota, with a total vote of 299,127.
- Iowa, with a total vote of 316,377.
- California, with 11 representatives, had a total vote of 644,790.
- States with 12 representatives:
- Georgia, with a total vote of 59,196.
- New Jersey, with a total vote of 338,461.
- Indiana, with 13 representatives, had a total vote of 565,216.
20th century Supreme Court decisions
Black Americans and their allies worked hard to regain their ability to exercise the constitutional rights of citizens. Booker T. Washington, better known for what some called an accommodationist approach at the Tuskegee Institute, called on northern backers to help finance legal challenges to disfranchisement and segregation. He raised substantial funds and also arranged for representation on some cases, such as the two for Giles in Alabama.
In its ruling in Giles v. Harris (1903), the United States Supreme Court under Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. effectively upheld such voter registration provisions in dealing with a challenge to the Alabama constitution. Its decision said the provisions were not targeted at blacks and thus did not deprive them of rights. This has been characterized as the "most momentous ignored decision" in constitutional history.
Trying to deal with the grounds of the Court's ruling, Giles mounted another challenge. In Giles v. Teasley (1904), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Alabama's disfranchising constitution. That same year the Congress refused to overturn a disputed election, and essentially sent plaintiffs back to the state courts. It was not until later in the 20th century that such legal challenges on disfranchisement began to meet some success in the courts.
With the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, the interracial group based in New York began to provide financial and strategic support to lawsuits on voting issues. What became the NAACP Legal Defense Fund organized and mounted numerous cases in repeated court and legal challenges to the many barriers of segregation, including disfranchisement provisions of the states. The NAACP often represented plaintiffs directly, or helped raise funds to support legal challenges. The NAACP also worked at public education, lobbying of Congress, demonstrations, and encouragement of theater and academic writing. NAACP chapters arose in cities across the country and membership increased rapidly in the South.
In Guinn v. United States (1915), the Supreme Court invalidated the Oklahoma Constitution's "old soldier" and "grandfather clause" exemptions from literacy tests, which in practice had resulted in blacks being denied registration to vote, as had occurred in numerous Southern states. This decision affected similar provisions in the constitutions of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia election rules. Oklahoma and other states quickly reacted by passing laws that created other rules for voter registration that worked against blacks and minorities. This was the first of many cases in which the NAACP filed a brief.
In Lane v. Wilson (1939), the Supreme Court invalidated an Oklahoma provision designed to disfranchise blacks, the one adopted to replace the clause struck down in Guinn. This clause permanently disfranchised everyone qualified to vote who had not registered to vote in a 12-day window between April 30 and May 11, 1916, except for those who voted in 1914. While designed to be more resistant to challenges based on discrimination, as the law did not specifically mention race, the Court struck it down partially because it relied on the 1914 election, when voters had been discriminated against under the rule invalidated in Guinn.
In Smith v. Allwright (1944), the Supreme Court reviewed a Texas case and ruled against the white-only primaries that had been widely authorized by state legislatures in the South. In major cities, civil rights organizations moved quickly to register black voters. For instance, in Georgia, in 1940 only 20,000 blacks had managed to register to vote. After the Supreme Court decision, the All-Citizens Registration Committee (ACRC) of Atlanta started organizing. By 1947 they and others had succeeded in getting 125,000 black Americans registered, 18.8% of those of eligible age.
Each legal victory was followed by white legislatures' renewed efforts to control black voting through different schemes. In 1958 Georgia passed a new registration act that required those who were illiterate to satisfy "understanding tests" by correctly answering 20 of 30 questions related to citizenship posed by the voting registrar. Despite substantial educational advances among blacks, the individual registrar was the sole person to determine whether individual prospective voters answered correctly. In practice, with subjective application of "understanding tests," registrars disqualified most black voters. In Terrell County, for instance, which was 64% black, after passage of the act, only 48 black Americans managed to register to vote in 1958.
Civil rights movement
The NAACP's steady progress with individual cases was thwarted by southern states' continuing resistance and passage of new statutory barriers to expansion of the franchise. Through the 1950s and 1960s, private citizens enlarged the effort by becoming activists throughout the South, led by many churches with black congregations and their leaders, and joined by young and older activists from northern states. Nonviolent confrontation and demonstrations were mounted in numerous Southern cities, often provoking violent reaction by white bystanders and authorities. The moral crusade of the Civil Rights Movement gained national media coverage, attention across the country, and a growing national outcry for change. Widespread violence against the Freedom Riders in 1961, and murders of activists in Alabama in 1963 and Mississippi in 1964 gained support for the activists' cause at the national level. President John F. Kennedy introduced civil rights legislation before he was assassinated.
President Lyndon B. Johnson took up the charge. In January 1964, Johnson met with civil rights leaders. On January 8, during his first State of the Union address, Johnson asked Congress to "let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined." On January 23, 1964, the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, was ratified with the approval of South Dakota, the 38th state to do so.
On June 21, 1964, civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, disappeared in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The three were volunteers aiding in the registration of black voters as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Forty-four days later the Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered their bodies from an earthen dam where they were buried. The Neshoba County deputy sheriff Cecil Price and 16 others, all Klan members, were indicted for the murders; seven were convicted.
On July 2, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act prohibited segregation in public places and barred unequal application of voter registration requirements. It did not abolish literacy tests, which had been used to disqualify blacks and poor white voters.
As the United States Department of Justice stated,
"By 1965 concerted efforts to break the grip of state disenfranchisement (sic) had been under way for some time, but had achieved only modest success overall and in some areas had proved almost entirely ineffectual. The murder of voting-rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, gained national attention, along with numerous other acts of violence and terrorism. Finally, the unprovoked attack on March 7, 1965, by state troopers on peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, en route to the state capitol in Montgomery, persuaded the President and Congress to overcome Southern legislators' resistance to effective voting rights legislation. President Johnson issued a call for a strong voting rights law and hearings began soon thereafter on the bill that would become the Voting Rights Act."
This outlawed the requirement that would-be voters in the United States take literacy tests to qualify to register to vote. It also provided for recourse for local voters to Federal oversight and intervention, plus monitoring of areas that historically had low voter turnouts.
- Electoral fraud
- Jim Crow laws
- Nadir of American race relations
- Race legislation in the United States
- Voting rights in the United States
- Gabriel J. Chin & Randy Wagner, "The Tyranny of the Minority: Jim Crow and the Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty,"43 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 65 (2008)
- J. Morgan Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, 1880-1910, p.104
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol.17, 2000, pp.12-13 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol.17, 2000, p.10, Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- COMMITTEE AT ODDS ON REAPPORTIONMENT, The New York Times, 20 Dec 1900, accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Tennessee voluntarily ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and thus averted Reconstruction in the form of military occupation.
- Andrews, E. Benjamin (1912). History of the United States. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
- George C. Rable, But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984, p. 132
- W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1868-1880, New York: Oxford University Press, 1935; reprint, New York: The Free Press, 1998
- Michael Perman.Struggle for Mastery: Disenfranchisement (sic) in the South, 1888-1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, Introduction
- 1878-1895: Disenfranchisement (sic), Southern Education Foundation, accessed 16 Mar 2008
- J. Morgan Kousser.The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974
- Glenn Feldman, The Disenfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004, pp. 135–136
- See Solid South.
- Woodrow Wilson, one of the two Democrats elected to the presidency between Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, directed the resegregation of federal facilities in the District of Columbia. They had been integrated during Reconstruction.
- "Atlanta in the Civil Rights Movement", Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education
- Texas Politics: Historical Barriers to Voting, accessed 11 Apr 2008 Archived April 2, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Holt, Thomas (1979). Black over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", 2000, p.12 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Curtis, Benjamin Robbins (Justice). "Dred Scott v. Sandford, Curtis dissent". Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
- North Carolina History Project "Fusion Politics"
- The North Carolina Collection, UNC Libraries "The North Carolina Election of 1898"
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", 2000, p.12 and 27 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Texas Politics: Historical Barriers to Voting, accessed 11 Apr 2008 Archived April 2, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Historical Census Browser, 1900 Federal Census, University of Virginia, accessed 15 Mar 2008
- Julien C. Monnet, "The Latest Phase of Negro Disenfranchisement", Harvard Law Review, Vol.26, No.1, Nov. 1912, p.42, accessed 14 Apr 2008
- Data obtained from existing data in table. Number of African Americans total obtained by 827,545+366,984+231,209+...+661,329=7,199,364. Percentage data: 827,545/45.26%=1,828,425(rounded to nearest whole) for total population of Alabama, 366,984/27.98%=1,311,594(nearest whole) for Arkansas, etc. Total of all state populations=18,975,448. 7,199,364/18,975,448=37.94%
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, 2000, p.19-20 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, 2000, p.20-21 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- "DEMANDS INQUIRY ON DISFRANCHISING; Representative Tinkham Aims to Enforce 14th and 15th Articles of Constitution. ASKS REAPPORTIONMENT House Resolution Will Point Out Disparity Between Southern Membership and Votes Cast". The New York Times. 6 December 1920. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, 2000, p. 21 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, 2000, p.32 Accessed 10 Mar 2008
- Richard M. Valelly, The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, p.141
- Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman, Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994, p.70
- Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman, Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994, p.71
- "Civil Rights during the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson". LBJ Library and Museum. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
- "Introduction To Federal Voting Rights Laws". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2007-02-25.