The main roots of Plessy v. Ferguson were in part tied to the scientific racism of the era. On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a car of the East Louisiana Railroad in New Orleans, Louisiana, bound for Covington, Louisiana, that was designated for use by white patrons only, as mandated by state law. Although Plessy was born a free person and was one-eighth black and seven-eighths white, under a Louisiana law enacted in 1890, he was classified as black, and thus required to sit in
Territorial Expansion and Slavery As new states were acquired the territorial lines shifted. Congressman Wilmot suggested that slavery be banned from any new terrain that the US might obtain from Mexico. The conflicts caused the Democratic Party split into northern and southern chapters. This in return caused even more problems, when David Wilmot wanted to keep the servitude out of the West, so the typical white sharecroppers could obtain the land (pg. 234) Some of the conflicts were that the Constitution promised the choice of slavery in federal acreage.
In the historical court case of Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Louisiana’s segregation law mandating separate but equal accommodations for both black and whites on intrastate railroads was constitutional. This decision was the legal basis for other state and local governments to continue to legally separate blacks and whites socially until it was overturned by Brown v. Board of education in 1954. Homer Plessy, a shoemaker and native of New Orleans, who was recruited by the Citizens’ Committee of New Orleans to violate the Louisiana’s 1890 Separate Car law that segregated its passengers by race. In 1892, Mr. Plessy, whose skin color and physical features of a white male purchased a first class train ticket to ride in the “white-only” car, when the conductor asked him what was his race, he revealed that he was 7/8 white which meant he was considered a black man and was arrested when he refused to sit in the “black-only” car. Mr. Tourgee, attorney for Mr. Plessy, argued that his Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated.
In 1890, the Louisiana Segregated car act was passed which was a law that required all railroad cars to have a “white patrons only” car and a “Jim Crow” car. This meant that it made it equally illegal for a white to sit in the car set aside for Negros as for blacks to occupy seats in a carriage reserved for whites. This eventually became controversial because of mixed families; white fathers would have to sit in white railroad cars while the black mother and the mulatto children would sit in the black train cart. Tourgeé took it upon himself and his committee to challenge the constitutionality of the Separate Car law. After successfully leading a test case in which the Louisiana district court declared forced segregation in railroad cars traveling between states to be unconstitutional, the committee was eager to test Act No.
Their mistreatment was beginning to be seen as inappropriate by some. In 1945, Harry Truman became the 33rd President of the United States. In contrast from what you would expect from a southern-born civilian- where it was natural for racism to occur- he attempted to assist with the Civil Rights movement. In 1947, he released a document called ‘To secure these rights’, this report called for a new series of measures to improve racial relations in the southern states of the US. Amongst them were an end to segregation in both public housing and in schools; enforcement of anti-lynching laws; protection of black voting rights and police professionalism.
In 1870, Tennessee creates a series of laws based on racial segregation which spreads throughout the South. In 1890, Louisiana passes the Separate Cars Act which separated train car passengers based on their race. Rodolphe Desdunes, a newspaper editor who challenged this law, sends his nephew, Homer Plessy, to test this law on the train. Plessy, who claims to be 7/8ths Caucasian and 1/8th African, boards a train and sits in the Caucasian train car. He was forcefully removed by police officers and imprisoned based on the provisions of this law.
Three goals of radical republicans were they wanted to prevent the leaders of the confederacy from returning to power after the war, they wanted the republican party to become a formidable institution in the south, and they wanted the federal government to help African Americans achieve political equality by guaranteeing their rights to vote in the south. The actual accomplishments of the Radical Reconstruction were; three new Constitutional amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments, were adopted. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and was ratified in 1865. The 14th Amendment was proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868, guaranteeing citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States (except Native Americans), and granting them federal civil rights. Finally, the 15th Amendment, proposed in late February 1869 and passed in early February 1870, decreeing that the right to vote could not be denied because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
They knew no different and expected as a citizen of that country to be treated the same as any other, black or white. However as citizens of this newly 'free' country. Their civic rights were withheld from them and they were treated as if they were second class citizens. One of the biggest factors to this inequality was the Jim Crow law put in place in 1876. Although it was only enforced in the Confederate South it effected a huge amount of the African American population in America.
In1892 Homer Adolph Plessy was a thirty-year old shoemaker from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was only 1/8 Black due to an African American great-grandmother, but he and his entire family passed as White. The State of Louisiana considered him Black. Plessy was asked by the Citizens Committee, a New Orleans political group composed of African Americans and Creoles like Plessy, to help them challenge the newly enacted Separate Car Act, a Louisiana law that separated Blacks from Whites in railroad cars. The penalty for sitting in the wrong car was either 20 days in jail or a $25 fine.
After the abolition of slavery in the United States, three Constitutional amendments were passed to grant newly freed African Americans legal status: the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth provided citizenship, and the Fifteenth guaranteed the right to vote. In spite of these amendments and civil rights acts to enforce the amendments, between 1873 and 1883 the Supreme Court handed down a series of decisions that virtually nullified the work of Congress during Reconstruction. Regarded by many as second-class citizens, blacks were separated from whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states. Second-class citizenship became the pivotal form of racial oppression in the United States, especially in the South, in the decades following the Civil War. The emancipation of slaves in the South posed a serious problem for large landowners who had previously relied almost entirely on slave labor for their incomes.