I. The origins of the system
The establishment of segregation was a response by white southern leaders to the abolition of slavery and the humiliation of the civil war (1861-1865). After 1865 follow a period of reconstruction. During reconstruction, the federal government took measures to protect Black people but the southern states did not accept it.
They weredetermined to “put the Black man in his place” with Jim Crow laws, segregation laws which were meant to preserve what they called “white supremacy”.
* The Ante-bellum South
Slavery was qualified as a “positive good” before the civil war, also presented as a peculiar institution. Slavery was a pillar of the southern society and its elimination would have lead to the destruction of the South.The decades before the civil war were a period of prosperity thanks to cotton in the South. The condition for those profits was slavery; slaves were needed in the fields.
The industrialization in the North led to fierce criticism of slavery which was an unfair competition. The abolitionist movement spread and called for the immediate abolition of slavery on an individual basis. Southerners feltthreatened by the Federal Government.
From the 1830s on, the southerners leaders elaborated and developed a complex demonstration to prove that slavery was a good thing: racial arguments, better for them to be enslaved than to work as free-workers in Northern industry, comparison with the Ancient Greece and Rome, without slavery it was impossible to develop but also the States Rights Doctrine.According to this Doctrine, the US was a federation of States in which the Federal Government had limited power and the States could resist the decisions taken by the Federal Government. The states had the right to secede from the Union. This doctrine was based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The 10th amendment guaranteed that all power not delegated to the Government arereserved to the states.
Lincoln was elected in 1861; he was a member of the Republican Party which called for the abolition of slavery as opposed to the Democratic Party.
Southerners were convinced that Lincoln would abolish slavery. In reaction to it, Southern Carolina seceded from the Union and other states followed and founded the Confederate States of America.
For Lincoln this secession was aviolation of the Constitution and declared the States in a state of rebellion.
President Lincoln issued a proclamation in 1863 and set the slaves free. He declared the emancipation of all slaves that were living in the South and encouraged them to join the Northern troops: the Emancipation Proclamation.
* The Post-bellum South, the Reconstruction Era.
In 1865 the North won and Lincoln wasreplaced by Andrew Johnson. The South was a defeated country and not immediately re-admitted in the Union. The southern States were occupied territories and administered by Republican politicians. The Federal Government took measures to protect Black people: the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.
In 1865: Abolition of Slavery with the 13th amendment.
In 1868: Recognition of black people asAmerican citizens and equal protection before the Law with the 14th amendment.
In 1870: Protection of their voting rights with the 15th amendment (only for males).
Southern States remained under Northern rule until the end of the Reconstruction era in 1877. They could be re-admitted in the Union if they recognized the legitimacy of the Constitution.
The southern economy was devastated, they felthumiliated by the “Yankees” and there were free Blacks in the States. For a few years the ex-slaves could vote and be elected in the Southern States, they were under the protection of republican politicians.
Southern Whites immediately organized resistance against the new rights accorded to the former slaves. They hated both black people and Northerners (called “carpet baggers”) and those who...