First Advisor

Gordon B. Dodds

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






African Americans -- Legal status, African Americans -- Civil rights -- History, African Americans -- Civil rights



Physical Description

1 online resource (140 pages)


The purpose of this study is to reexamine the assumption in American historiography that the United States Supreme Court's monumental decision in the Civil Rights Cases striking down the 1875 Civil Rights Act represented the end of the Nineteenth Century commitment to "equality under the law" and the civil rights issue. The evidence shows that while the decision had overwhelming support, much of this was support for the Court’s view that such legislation was not within the scope of Federal power.

Eleven states responded to the Supreme Court’s decision by rapidly enacting civil rights legislation. The research centered on gathering data (legislative journals, proposed bills, and newspapers) to examine the depth and nature of this response.

The evidence does seem to suggest that the legacy of "equality under the law" did continue into the 1880’s. Also the great degree, of partisan behavior displayed by some toward the bills and the caution in defining positions shown by others indicates that politicians were very concerned with the power of the black voter. The black man's rights and the black man's vote were not forgotten by the politicians in the 1880's.


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