The Trial of Democracy

The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910

XI WANG
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 480
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46nk02
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Trial of Democracy
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4206-1
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xvii-xxviii)

    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 and privileges that white Americans had automatically assumed, and black men received the right to vote. Of the three Civil War constitutional amendments, the Fifteenth Amendment stood as the most revolutionary, for it put into the hands of millions of former slaves the right of suffrage, an essential right enabling a citizen to be politically accountable in...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Road to the Fifteenth Amendment, 1860–1870
    (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 the party’s fundamental belief that the expansion of slavery had to be stopped and the southern “slave power” driven from national influence. Within six years of its formation, the party would unite various antislavery forces in the North and form a powerful coalition that eventually took control of the national government.¹ But, despite its determination to stop the spread of slavery, the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Making of Federal Enforcement Laws, 1870–1872
    (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, bitter fights over ratification ensued in the Middle Atlantic states. Radical Republicans in New York had demanded black suffrage at their 1867 state convention, but the subsequent defeat of that year had made them extremely cautious about raising the issue in state politics. Thus, for New York Republicans, the Fifteenth Amendment offered an opportunity to accomplish their earlier goal without whipping up local antiblack...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Anatomy of Enforcement, 1870–1876
    (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 determination to use national power to secure the achievements of the late war, put down political rebellion in the South, guarantee the purity of national elections, and reinforce the party’s strength, South and North. While Republicans in Congress cleared the way for federal enforcement, the actual effect of enforcement depended on the thoroughness and efficacy of the federal government. In addition to the...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Hayes Administration and Black Suffrage, 1876–1880
    (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 would not only inspire them with “a profound respect for the skill and taste” of people from other nations but also satisfy them with “the attainments” made by Americans during the preceding one hundred years.¹ The American products at the exhibition impressed foreign visitors, who, one writer reported, joined “in expressions of surprise and admiration at the excellence” of America’s manufactures, schools,...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Survival of a Principle, 1880–1888
    (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 four years earlier. The “first duties of the Nation,” the Republican platform of 1880 declared, were “the equal, steady and complete enforcement of laws, and the protection of all … citizens in the enjoyment of all privileges and immunities guaranteed by the Constitution.” Condemning southern Democrats for obstructing “the freedom of suffrage”...

  12. CHAPTER SIX The Rise and Fall of Reenforcement, 1888–1891
    (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 the incoming Cleveland administration to do more than pay lip service to continue the use. In his inaugural address, Cleveland, the first Democratic president since the outbreak of the Civil War, acknowledged the validity of black emancipation and enfranchisement and pledged that his administration would protect “the freedmen in their rights or their security in the enjoyment of their privileges...

  13. EPILOGUE. Equality Deferred, 1892–1910
    (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 Republicans would “be glad to get rid of a system” that had been “tried in the balance and found wanting.” The weekly predicted that the Lodge bill’s defeat would improve Democratic chances of winning the next election.¹ In their platform in 1892, the Democrats claimed that the Lodge bill’s defeat gave their party a mandate to repeal the...

  14. APPENDIX ONE. ENFORCEMENT ACT OF MAY 31, 1870
    (pp. 267-274)
  15. APPENDIX TWO. NATURALIZATION ACT OF JULY 14, 1870
    (pp. 275-277)
  16. APPENDIX THREE. ENFORCEMENT ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1871
    (pp. 278-287)
  17. APPENDIX FOUR. ENFORCEMENT ACT OF APRIL 20, 1871 (THE KU KLUX FORCE ACT)
    (pp. 288-291)
  18. APPENDIX FIVE. ENFORCEMENT RIDER IN THE CIVIL APPROPRIATION ACT OF JUNE 10, 1872
    (pp. 292-293)
  19. APPENDIX SIX. SECTIONS FROM THE ENFORCEMENT ACTS IN THE REVISED STATUTES, THEIR REPEALS, AND AMENDMENTS
    (pp. 294-299)
  20. APPENDIX SEVEN. CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS UNDER ENFORCEMENT ACTS, 1870–1894, BY SECTION AND YEAR
    (pp. 300-301)
  21. APPENDIX EIGHT. STRENGTH DISTRIBUTION OF THE MAJOR PARTIES IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, 1861–1909
    (pp. 302-302)
  22. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 303-304)
  23. NOTES
    (pp. 305-374)
  24. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 375-396)
  25. INDEX
    (pp. 397-411)