Black Voting Rights Activism in the Jim Crow South, 1890-1910
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Prologue: April 27, 1903
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Hushed by the marshal’s cry of “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” the crowd stood and watched as nine men clad in silken black robes filed onto the dais. It was a decision day in the U.S. Supreme Court. The chamber fell silent, and the marshal admonished “all persons having business” before the Court to “draw near and give...
1. We Must Either Fight or Submit: Phase One Begins
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Robert Sproule had campaigned hard to be Warren County, Mississippi’s tax assessor, but when officials opened the ballot boxes and tallied the results of the 1892 county election, his opponent, R. A. Fredericks, prevailed by eight votes. Whispers flew furiously. Something was rotten in the Brunswick precinct. Seventy votes...
2. If Thine Eye Be Evil: The Road to Williams v. Mississippi
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In late August 1895, Indianola, Mississippi’s Sunflower Tocsin printed poetry on its front page, offering readers an excerpt from E. C. Hudson’s “The Negriad.” The first stanza began...
3. The Grandfather Clause: Phase Two Begins
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Good registrars were hard to find. Their task was delicate and thankless and dirty, and in Mississippi, that state’s disfranchisers would have been nothing without men like Jim Brown. W. J. “Jim” Brown Jr. oversaw the city of Jackson’s voter registration...
4. Negroes Have Organized: Alabama’s Disfranchisers, Black Activists, and the Courts
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When disfranchisement came to Alabama, that state’s African American leaders and activists were better prepared than had been their brethren in Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Louisiana. They had the benefit of those previous states’ experience, after all, and in the summer of 1901, it looked as if Alabama’s black community...
5. An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of Alabama: Registration and Resistance
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Five days after Alabama ratified its 1901 constitution, Walter Lynwood Fleming, a twenty-seven-year-old Columbia University Ph.D. student and Pike County, Alabama, native, requested copies of the document from Governor William Dorsey Jelks. The budding historian wanted them for “some rampant Republican...
6. The Enemies’ Works: The Alabama Cases Begin
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On April 30, 1902, two days after Nelson Bibb swore his widely publicized affidavit against Montgomery County’s registrars, there was a sudden and significant development in the “Louisiana Case.” David Ryanes’s lead attorney, Armand Romain, appeared in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court and withdrew the matter...
7. Swords and Torches: The Virginians Enter the Fray
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As Wilford Smith completed his U.S. Supreme Court briefs for Giles v. Harris, and as he prepared the Alabama Supreme Court appeals of Giles v. Teasley II and III and Rogers v. Alabama, the Temporary Plan’s third and fourth registration windows opened. The third encompassed November’s third week and the fourth...
8. The Second Dred Scott Case: Giles v. Harris Is Decided
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James Hayes’s grandstanding in early 1903 proved so fascinating that few seemed to notice when Wilford Smith filed Giles v. Harris with the U.S. Supreme Court on January 28. To be fair, Hayes provided a far more interesting spectacle, but Giles v. Harris was too important to go ignored for long. Observers—journalistic...
9. The Banner Negroes: Fighting to the End
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Notably absent from the public coverage and the private planning of the early antidisfranchisement cases were the plaintiffs themselves. Cornelius Jones’s Mississippi clients were all condemned prisoners and could play no role other than to offer testimony in court. Additionally, their cases were inseparable from Jones’s congressional...
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Iwish to begin by thanking Tony Freyer and Kari Frederickson for the innumerable kindnesses they have shown me over the years. And I wish to acknowledge the influence of several professors from years ago, people who inspired (but never pushed...
A Note on Sources
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2010