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The Nadir: Race Gender, and Citizenship

Race &Reunion
- A return to home rule and states rights
- Reassertion of white supremacy in law and custom
- By the 1890s, develop Jim Crow segregation throughout the
- Known as the nadir of American race relations
- Built upon four key pillars
o Economic control
Controlling the labor force
Black workers concentrated in farming and
domestic service
Various strategies of control emerge
Vagrancy laws restricted movement for
Debt peonage
Convict leasing
o Social Exclusion
Establish separate and inferior facilities/roles for
Segregation in schools, transportation, housing,
and nearly every aspect of life
Supreme Court strips protections in the Civil
Rights Cases (1883)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) Separate but Equal
o Disfranchisement
Restricting the vote:
Property & literacy qualifications
Poll taxes
Loopholes & exemptions (i.e. Grandfather
White primaries
Tremendously effective:
Black voters in Louisiana (1896): ~130,000
State amendments (1898)
Black voters in Louisiana (1904): ~1,300
o Violence
Upheld by extensive, overt, and unpunished
Race riots (i.e. Wilmington, NC 1898,
Springfield, IL 1908)
Brutality by law enforcement
Sexual assault
Between Reconstruction and the 1960s, only one
white person is convicted of murdering a black
person in the south

Not Just the South

- Segregation and racial violence are not just Southern
- Extensive discrimination in the North and West:
o Public accommodations
o Housing
o Employment
- Intensifies as Northern black populations grow

Conceptions of Womanhood
- Cult of True Womanhood or Cult of Domesticity
- Traits of the proper 19th Century woman:
o Submissiveness and dependence
o Rooted in the home
o Moral influence in the family
o Moral and sexual restraint
- Dependence
o Women do not share full citizenship rights
o Womens political participation is discouraged or
o Coverture:
Absence of individual legal identity for women
Womans legal identity is covered by her father
and then (if married) by her husband
Limits property and contractual rights for much of
the 19th century
- A Domestic Sphere
o Emphasis on the responsibilities of motherhood and
o Expected to defer to men in public life, occupy separate
social circles
o Middle-class women discouraged from working outside
of the home
o Minor v. Happersett (1874) Supreme Court denies
that 14th Amendment allows women to vote
- A Moral Influence
o Women expected to be guiding moral influences
o Use this role to advocate for greater political rights
The Home vote or the Mothers vote
Political participation to achieve broader reform
goals (temperance, education)

Growing Possibilities
- By the 1890s, womens rights have expanded
- Western states have begun full enfranchisement
- Growth of womens employment across the country
- Rising membership in political groups

Gender, Race, and Civilization

- Gender roles are seen as a defining feature of civilization
and fitness for citizenship
o Casts women as dependents
o Casts non-whites (AAs and Native Americans in
particular) as inferior or uncivilized

Ida B. Wells & Anti-Lynching

- Early campaign evolves to protest lynching
- A key leader is Ida B. Wells
o Journalist in Memphis
o Driven out of the South
o Becomes prominent investigator and international
o Helps organize a variety of groups and movements
- Building a Civil Rights Movement
o AAs build off early organizing campaigns, protest
discrimination, demand their rights
o Black women organize reform and uplift organizations
o National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) founded in 1909
- Building a Womens Movement
o Black and white women advocate for the vote, but often
o Woman suffrage movement adopts white supremacist
stance as it gains strength in 1890s
o White womens votes depicted as protection against
black mens political influence
o Some women (and men) embrace both racial and
gender egalitarianism