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The Trial of Democracy

Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910

Xi Wang

Publication Year: 1997

After the Civil War, Republicans teamed with activist African Americans to protect black voting rights through innovative constitutional reforms--a radical transformation of southern and national political structures. The Trial of Democracy is a comprehensive analysis of both the forces and mechanisms that led to the implementation of black suffrage and the ultimate failure to maintain a stable northern constituency to support enforcement on a permanent basis.

The reforms stirred fierce debates over the political and constitutional value of black suffrage, the legitimacy of racial equality, and the proper sharing of power between the state and federal governments. Unlike most studies of Reconstruction, this book follows these issues into the early twentieth century to examine the impact of the constitutional principles and the rise of Jim Crow. Tying constitutional history to party politics, The Trial of Democracy is a vital contribution to both fields.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Studies in the Legal History of the South


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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book originated from my intellectual curiosity about the meaning of American democracy. It is a revised and expanded version of my doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. The primary goal of this book is to provide a lucid, coherent, and analytical narrative of how African American...

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pp. xvii-xxv

One of the most important results of the Civil War was the establishment of a new constitutional order in the United States. Under this new order, not only was slavery abolished, but African Americans were recognized as American citizens and received the immunities...

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Chapter One. The Road to the Fifteenth Amendment, 1860-1870

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pp. 1-48

Born during the political realignment of the mid-1850s, the Republican party was the first major political party in American history that directly challenged the legitimacy and legality of American slavery. Despite their diverse political origins, all Republicans shared...

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Chapter Two. The Making of Federal Enforcement Laws, 1870-1872

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pp. 49-92

Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment on February 26, 1869, and it was immediately submitted to the states for ratification. New England states —including Connecticut, where now the Republicans were in control — promptly approved the amendment.1 However...

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Chapter Three. The Anatomy of Enforcement, 1870-1876

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pp. 93-133

The sweeping enforcement laws adopted by the Republican Congress between May 1870 and June 1872 helped transform the principles of the Civil War amendments into the actual policies of the federal government. These laws demonstrated the Republican...

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Chapter Four. The Hayes Administration and Black Suffrage, 1876-1880

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pp. 134-179

Eighteen seventy-six was the centennial year. On May 10, the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine opened in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. President Grant gave the opening speech, assuring visitors that the exhibition...

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Chapter Five. The Survival of a Principle, 1880-1888

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pp. 180-215

The political calendar of the Republican party in 1880 seemed to have been turned back to 1872. The party's principal objective was neither to achieve reconciliation with the South nor to commit to civil service reform, both of which had been the main parts of the party's platform...

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Chapter Six. The Rise and Fall of Reenforcement, 1888-1891

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pp. 216-252

The Democratic victory in 1884 was not the end of the Republican cause of federal enforcement. The three major Supreme Court decisions of the early 1880s— Siebold, Clarke, and Yarbrough— not only maintained the constitutionality of enforcement but also compelled...

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Epilogue. Equality Deferred, 1892-1910

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pp. 253-266

After the Lodge bill failed to pass the Senate in January 1891, the northern press speculated that federal enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment was doomed. The Nation commented that since the issue of enforcement had dogged the party for so long, many...

Appendix One. Enforcement Act of May 31, 1870

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pp. 267-274

Appendix Two. Naturalization Act of July 14, 1870

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pp. 275-277

Appendix Three. Enforcement Act of February 28, 1871

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pp. 278-287

Appendix Four. Enforcement Act of April 20, 1871

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pp. 288-291

Appendix Five. Enforcement Rider in the Civil Appropriation Act of June 10, 1872

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pp. 292-293

Appendix Six. Sections from the Enforcement Acts in the Revised Statutes, Their Repeals, and Amendments

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pp. 294-299

Appendix Seven. Criminal Prosecutions under Enforcement Acts, 1870-1894, by Section and Year

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pp. 300-301

Appendix Eight. Strength Distribution of the Major Parties in the Federal Government, 1861-1909

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p. 302


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pp. 303-304


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pp. 305-374

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 375-396


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pp. 397-411

E-ISBN-13: 9780820342061
E-ISBN-10: 0820342068
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820318370
Print-ISBN-10: 082031837X

Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos
Publication Year: 1997

Series Title: Studies in the Legal History of the South
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OCLC Number: 859686368
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Trial of Democracy

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Suffrage -- History.
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) -- History.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1865-1933.
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