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Race and Liberty in America

The Essential Reader

Jonathan Bean

Publication Year: 2009

The history of civil rights in the United States is usually analyzed and interpreted through the lenses of modern conservatism and progressive liberalism. In Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, author Jonathan Bean argues that the historical record does not conveniently fit into either of these categories and that knowledge of the American classical liberal tradition is required to gain a more accurate understanding of the past, present, and future of civil liberties in the nation. By assembling and contextualizing classic documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning school assignment by race, Bean demonstrates that classical liberalism differs from progressive liberalism in emphasizing individual freedom, Christianity, the racial neutrality of the Constitution, complete color-blindness, and free-market capitalism. A comprehensive and vital resource for scholars and students of civil liberties, Race and Liberty in America presents a wealth of primary sources that trace the evolution of civil rights throughout U.S. history.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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pp. xi

List Documents

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pp. xiii-xx

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pp. xxi-xxii

This book resulted from the collective support of many individuals. My family deserves the greatest acknowledgment for tolerating the endless clicking of the keyboard. David Theroux, founder and president of the Independent Institute (www.independent.org), first saw the work’s importance to the cause of liberty, ...

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Introduction: Civil Rights and Classical Liberalism

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pp. 1-12

This is the first collection of writings on race and immigration to document the role of the classical liberal tradition. For many generations, this tradition dominated the civil rights movement, and it continues to exert a profound influence on current events. Classical liberals fought slavery, lynching, segregation, imperialism, ...

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1. Antislavery (1776–1853)

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pp. 13-44

In the era of antislavery, classical liberal voices for racial freedom drew upon the Constitution, Christianity, and belief in the right to self-ownership. The Declaration of Independence was also a touchstone of abolitionism quoted and discussed by James Forten, David Walker, Lysander Spooner, Frederick Douglass, ...

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2. The Republican Era (1854–1876)

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pp. 45-76

With the electoral success of the newly formed Republican Party (established in 1854), many classical liberals joined the party because of its opposition to slavery. Republicans, including Abraham Lincoln, declared slavery to be a moral wrong yet confined the political issue to whether slaves ought to exist ...

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3. Colorblindness in a Color-Conscious Era (1877–1920)

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pp. 77-136

After federal troops left the U.S. South, Reconstruction ended and the nation focused on new concerns (the tariff, currency debates, foreign wars). Yet racial issues did not go away. In the South, the Democratic Party disfranchised blacks through the use of poll taxes, constitutional literacy tests, election fraud, and voter intimidation. ...

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4. Republicans and Race (1921–1932)

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pp. 137-162

The roaring twenties were an ugly period in U.S. race relations. Lynching and mob violence continued to terrorize African Americans in the South, and occasionally the North and West (as witnessed by the bloody Tulsa race riot of 1921). The Ku Klux Klan revived in new form, attacking not only blacks ...

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5. The Roosevelt Years (1933–1945)

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pp. 163-184

The great depression and World War II transformed American politics as voters migrated en masse from the Republican to the Democratic Party. Franklin Roosevelt wielded great presidential power over a span of twelve years. Historians differ in their assessment of Roosevelt’s civil rights record. ...

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6. Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era (1946–1964)

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pp. 185-230

Events moved swiftly during the civil rights era. Federal courts ruled various forms of segregation unconstitutional, thus infuriating southern conservatives. A Republican Senate refused to seat a notorious racist, and subsequent congresses passed Civil Rights Acts protecting voting rights and overturning segregation. ...

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7. Individualists in an Age of Group Discrimination (1965–Present)

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pp. 231-306

Classical liberals confronted a dilemma with the Civil Rights Act of 1964: several provisions struck down state-sponsored discrimination in the South. This was in keeping with the classical liberal tradition of civil rights—judicious use of federal law and court decisions was an acceptable means to end racial discrimination by the State. ...

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Conclusion: Past, Present, Future

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pp. 307-314

What does the twenty-first century hold for classical liberalism? Classical liberals can no longer rely on the support of either the Democratic or Republican parties. The Democrats remain committed to racial preferences forever, if we take their “diversity” premise at face value: why end something that is good for everyone? ...


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pp. 315-330

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About the Editor

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pp. 331

Jonathan J. Bean is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and professor of history at Southern Illinois University. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1994. Dr. Bean is a recipient of the Henry Adams Prize for Best Book of the Year from the Society for History in the Federal Government ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813173627
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813125459

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2009