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Race and Liberty in America

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader

Edited by Jonathan Bean
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jckf4
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  • Book Info
    Race and Liberty in America
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7362-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. List of Documents
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. Introduction: Civil Rights and Classical Liberalism
    (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, and racial distinctions in the law. As immigration advocates, they defended the “natural right” of migration to America.Race and Libertyrecaptures this lively tradition through the writings of men and women missing from other civil rights anthologies. Academic booklists reflect the politically correct view that left-wing liberals or radicals completely dominated...

  6. 1 Antislavery 1776–1853
    (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, and nearly every other antislavery writer in the tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War. Strong, often violent, opposition to antislavery activists led them to develop a coherent tradition that dominated the civil rights movement well into the twentieth century and still persists today. Although the author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was a...

  7. 2 The Republican Era 1854–1876
    (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 in the territories of the United States. This expediency, or fear of getting ahead of public opinion, disillusioned classical liberals, who hoped for a firmer stance against slavery. When southern states seceded from the Union (1860–1861), President Lincoln backed his party’s passage of a constitutional amendment that would have inserted the right...

  8. 3 Colorblindness in a Color-Conscious Era 1877–1920
    (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. Southern states passed laws forcing the separation of races in schools, on streetcars, and elsewhere in society. White mobs repeatedly lynched blacks, thus sending a harrowing message to an entire race: “Stay in your place.” Meanwhile, American shores received record numbers of immigrants from southeastern Europe and Asia. “Progressives”...

  9. 4 Republicans and Race 1921–1932
    (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 but also Catholics, Jews, and immigrants. By the mid-1920s, the KKK had millions of members before disintegrating in the midst of scandal and counterattacks by opponents.

    Above all, this was an era of paradox and pragmatism. Republicans passed an antilynching bill but relented when a Democratic filibuster stymied all...

  10. 5 The Roosevelt Years 1933–1945
    (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. Sympathetic interpreters emphasize the role of Eleanor Roosevelt, northern Democrats, and labor unions in promoting a civil rights agenda. They also note how FDR’s judicial appointments and Department of Justice briefs paved the way for the court victories of the 1940s and 1950s.¹ Middle-of-the-road interpreters note the diverse responses of African Americans: younger, northern blacks migrated...

  11. 6 Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era 1946–1964
    (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. President Dwight D. Eisenhower played an instrumental role in the desegregation of Washington, DC (1953), and theBrown v. Boarddecision (1954). Eisenhower antagonized southern Democrats with his judicial appointments, his support of civil rights legislation (watered down by Senate majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson [D-TX]), and his order to send troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they...

  12. 7 Individualists in an Age of Group Discrimination 1965–Present
    (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. However, two sections (or “titles”) mandated nondiscrimination in the private sector, forbidding discrimination in hiring or “public accommodations.” This infringed upon the freedom of association that classical liberals also valued.

    Sponsors of the Civil Rights Act mollified critics who feared that these two titles would lead to the...

  13. Conclusion: Past, Present, Future
    (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? Meanwhile, the Republicans are embarrassed by questions of race and wish they would go away. In 2000, candidate George W. Bush fled from issues of race like a vampire escaping dawn’s early light. When asked where he stood on affirmative action, the first president of the twenty-first century stated that...

  14. Index
    (pp. 315-330)
  15. About the Editor
    (pp. 331-331)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 332-338)