Monday, August 13, 2018

A Collection of Images to Make You Think

"To Thine Own Self Be True"  Harper's Weekly  Apr. 24, 1875

In 1883, The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights act of 1875, forbidding discrimination in hotels, trains, and other public spaces, was unconstitutional and not authorized by the 13th or 14th Amendments of the Constitution. The ruling read in part:

“The XIVth Amendment is prohibitory upon the States only, and the legislation authorized to be adopted by Congress for enforcing it is not direct legislation on the matters respecting which the States are prohibited from making or enforcing certain laws, or doing certain acts, but it is corrective legislation, such as may be necessary or proper for counteracting and redressing the effect of such laws or acts.

“The XIIIth Amendment relates to slavery and involuntary servitude (which it abolishes); … yet such legislative power extends only to the subject of slavery and its incidents; and the denial of equal accommodations in inns, public conveyances and places of public amusement (which is forbidden by the sections in question), imposes no badge of slavery or involuntary servitude upon the party, but at most, infringes rights which are protected from State aggression by the XIVth Amendment.”

The decision outraged the black community and many whites as well, for they felt it opened the door to legalized segregation. Bishop Henry McNeil Turner raged at the court for its decision: “The world has never witnessed such barbarous laws entailed upon a free people as have grown out of the decision of the United States Supreme Court, issued October 15, 1883. For that decision alone authorized and now sustains all the unjust discriminations, proscriptions and robberies perpetrated by public carriers upon millions of the nation’s most loyal defenders. It fathers all the ‘Jim-Crow cars’ into which colored people are huddled and compelled to pay as much as the whites, who are given the finest accommodations. It has made the ballot of the black man a parody, his citizenship a nullity and his freedom a burlesque. It has engendered the bitterest feeling between the whites and blacks, and resulted in the deaths of thousands, who would have been living and enjoying life today.” One of the justices on the court, John Harlan, gave a now-famous dissent, writing, “Whereas it is essential to just government we recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political; and it being the appropriate object of legislation to enact great fundamental principles into law; I am of opinion that such discrimination is a badge of servitude, the imposition of which congress may prevent under its power, through appropriate legislation, to enforce the thirteenth Amendment; and consequently, without reference to its enlarged power under the fourteenth Amendment, the act of March 1, 1875, is not, in my judgment, repugnant to the constitution.” African Americans would have to wait until 1964 before Congress would again pass a civil-rights law, this time constitutionally acceptable, that would forbid discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and unions.

— Richard Wormser

article found @

 Feb 3, 1870 the 15th Amendment grants voting rights to African American men


The Fifteenth Amendment contains two short sections. The first prohibits the government of the United States or of any state to deny any male citizen the right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The second section grants Congress enforcement power.

The defeat of the Confederacy and the abolition of slavery in 1865 left many unanswered questions about the newly freed population. Among those questions was whether they should be allowed to vote, then regarded as one of the essential rights of citizenship for American men. Very few states at the time allowed African American men to vote, but President Abraham Lincoln and some other national leaders came to believe that men who had fought in the United States Army and Navy during the war had earned that right of citizenship. As part of the overall plan that Republican Party leaders in Congress developed after the war to guarantee that freedom from slavery could become genuine freedom, not merely an absence of slavery, Congress submitted the proposed constitutional amendment to the states on February 26, 1869. It granted African American men the right to vote by prohibiting the states from denying the vote to any citizen because of race, skin color, or having once been held in slavery.

Because Virginia had been a Confederate state and had not yet been fully reinstated to the Union, no Virginians served in Congress when it submitted the amendment to the states. Following the end of the Civil War, the Senate and House of Representatives placed the states of the former Confederacy (except Tennessee but including Virginia, part of which had remained one of the United States during the war) under military rule and refused to seat any men elected to either house of Congress from those states.

African American men had voted in Virginia for the first time sixteen months before Congress passed the amendment and twenty-eight months before it became part of the Constitution. In 1867, Congress required that all the states of the former Confederacy hold conventions and write new constitutions.

On October 22, 1867, the United States Army conducted an election in Virginia to authorize the convention and to elect members. The army allowed African American men to vote in that election. 

Most of them were former slaves, but some had been born free or had been freed before emancipation. Twenty-four African Americans won election to the convention, which drafted a new state constitution. Among other things, it created the first statewide system of free public schools in Virginia. The suffrage article of the new constitution guaranteed the right to vote to "Every male citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old," except men who had fought in the Confederate army.

The disfranchisement of former Confederates was the most controversial part of the new constitution and it delayed the scheduled 1868 ratification referendum. Eventually, a group of men known as the Committee of Nine worked out a compromise with President Ulysses S. Grant that authorized separate voting on the section that disfranchised former Confederates. On July 6, 1869, in the second election in which African Americans voted in Virginia, the voters approved the new constitution and rejected the disfranchisement section. On that same day, voters elected statewide officers and members of a new assembly.

On the fourth day of its next session, the General Assembly ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, making Virginia the eighteenth state to do so. Both houses of the General Assembly ratified the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments on October 8, 1869. The vote on the Fifteenth Amendment was 132 to 0 in the House of Delegates and 40 to 2 in the Senate of Virginia. All twenty-one of the twenty-three African American members of the House of Delegates who were present voted for it; one of the six African American senators, Isaiah L. Lyons, voted against it. The Fifteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on February 3, 1870, when the legislature of Iowa was the twenty-eighth state to ratify it.

Virginia's ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments and enfranchisement of African Americans in the new state constitution ended Congressional Reconstruction in the state. Congress passed a bill that the president signed on January 26, 1870, permitting Virginia's senators and elected representatives to take their seats in Congress.

Many white Virginians disapproved of black men voting. In 1876 a majority of Virginia's voters, who were white men, ratified a constitutional amendment requiring pre-payment of a poll tax for men who wished to vote. The tax reduced the number of African Americans who were able to vote during the remainder of the decade. At the end of the 1870s, a biracial coalition known as the Readjuster Party gained control of both houses of the General Assembly and two years later elected a governor. The Readjusters then repealed the poll tax. After Democrats regained control of the assembly and the governorship in the mid-1880s, they adopted new laws governing the conduct of elections that made it increasingly difficult for black men to vote in Virginia.

In 1901–1902 another state constitutional convention provided a legal framework that enabled the General Assembly to disfranchise about 90 percent of otherwise eligible African American voters through complex voter registration laws and a new poll tax. That constitution and those laws did not technically violate the Fifteenth Amendment, which merely prohibited states from denying citizens the right to vote because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The severe restrictions on voter registration that went into place at the beginning of the twentieth century disfranchised black men for reasons other than race, even though that was the intent of the white men who adopted them. Those restrictions also disfranchised a large number of white Virginia men.

Registering and voting remained difficult for African Americans in Virginia until ratification of the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964, passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Supreme Court's decision in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections in 1966 removed most of the barriers.

Time Line
  • March 2, 1867 - The U.S. Congress requires that the legislature of each state in the former Confederacy ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before its senators and elected representatives can be seated in Congress.
  • October 22, 1867 - The U.S. Army conducts an election in Virginia to authorize a state constitutional convention and to elect delegates. The army allows African American men to vote in the election.
  • February 25, 1869 - The U.S. House of Representatives approves the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • February 26, 1869 - The U.S. Senate approves the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • July 6, 1869 - Voters ratify a new state constitution, often called the Underwood Constitution, rejecting separate provisions that would have disfranchised men who had held civil or military office under the Confederacy. The new constitution supplants the former one, proclaimed on April 7, 1864.
  • October 8, 1869 - Both houses of the General Assembly of Virginia ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
  • January 26, 1870 - The U.S. Congress passes an act permitting Virginia's senators and elected representatives to take their seats in Congress. This ends Congressional Reconstruction in Virginia.
  • February 3, 1870 - Iowa becomes the twenty-eighth state to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, completing the ratification process.
  • 1876 - Democrats devoted to white supremacy amend the state constitution to make payment of the poll tax a prerequisite for voting, hoping to disfranchise some black voters.
  • 1902 - Provisions of the newly passed Virginia Constitution effectively deny suffrage to most of Virginia's African American men and to about half of the white men who had voted before it was passed.
  • January 23, 1964 - South Dakota becomes the thirty-eighth state to ratify the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, completing the ratification process.
  • May 1964 - Evelyn Thomas Butts's case charging that the poll tax is unconstitutional is dismissed for failure to prosecute the case with due diligence.
  • November 12, 1964 - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia decides Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, upholding the constitutionality of the poll tax.
  • August 6, 1965 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law. It prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
  • March 24, 1966 - In the case of Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the poll tax is unconstitutional.
  • February 25, 1977 - Both houses of the General Assembly of Virginia ratify the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, outlawing poll taxes.

Civil Rights Act 1875 (fourth)  from:

Civil Rights Act (1875)- was introduced to Congress by Charles Sumner and Benjamin Butler in 1870 but did not become law until 1st March, 1875. It promised that all persons, regardless of race, color, or previous condition, was entitled to full and equal employment of accommodation in "inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement." It provided for either criminal or civil enforcement. If found guilty in a criminal trial, the lawbreaker was punishable by a $500 to $1000 fine and between thirty days and one year in jail. Alternatively, the victim could file a civil suit for $500 in damages.In 1883 the Supreme Court declared the act as unconstitutional and asserted that Congress did not have the power to regulate the conduct and transactions of individuals.The laws were completely ignored in the south. Local "Jim Crow" laws were passed that established separate accommodations for Blacks and Whites.     Haarthi Sakthivel per4

"The Union As It Was"  Harper's Weekly Oct. 12, 1874

And not this man? Columbia argues for Civil Rights for a wounded African American veteran. Harper’s Weekly, August 5, 1859. Library of Congress

from:  Thomas Nast Cartoons "The Chinese Question" 1871
“The Chinese Question” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly. Feb. 2, 1871, Source: Walfred scan
The Chinese Question is full sized cartoon published in Harper’s Weekly, February 18, 1871,
Nast was tolerant of all races, nationalities, and creeds. He was not, however, tolerant of ignorance. He deplored the mob mentality that in his mind, the Irish represented. Their alliance with Tweed and Democratic Party values drove Nast to draw with savage fervor. It wasn’t the Irish per se, but what the Irish did with their political power and alliances that Nast found disturbing. As Patricia Hills points out, “he [Nast] castigates only the ignorant and bigoted who engage in reprehensible deeds” (115).

Unfortunately for the Chinese, the Irish played a major role in Sinophobic hysteria. In her book Driven Out, Jean Pfaelzer quotes a New York Times article on the role of the Irish against the Chinese:
It was well known that the chief objection to the Chinese in California comes from the Irish. It was from this class that the Democratic Party used to draw most of the political capital which it gained by fostering the prejudices against the Negro. Fleeing to this country, as they claimed, to escape British oppression, the Irish immigrant always made haste to join the ranks of the oppressors here.  They voted, almost to a man, with the Democratic Party…now that slavery is abolished, we find them in the front ranks of the haters and persecutors of the Chinese. (52-53)

Accompanying this cartoon was a short, but powerful Harper’s editorial, “The Heathen Chinee” which decried the fear-mongering and blame placed upon the Chinese for labor displacement. In a bid to strengthen his Irish constituency, Tweed sought to restrict the use of Chinese railroad labor through legislative means. While a state senator, Tweed sponsored a bill to prevent the Chinese from being hired on projects.  Although Chinese population in New York was statistically minute,  estimated to be only 200 at the time, Tweed favored invasion vernacular to stoke fear within a male, Caucasian workforce. Harper’s Weekly’s editors  observed,

The working-men of this State know perfectly well that no such danger exists as that which is hinted at in Mr. Tweed’s bill. The Chinese invasion, of which he seems to be so much afraid is altogether mythical, as everybody in his sober senses is well aware; and Mr. Tweed presumes too much on the ignorance or the prejudices of the working-men if he expects to delude them with such a flimsy cheat. The general sentiment of the American people on this question is admirably expressed in Mr. Nast’s cartoon. A majority in this country still adhere to the old Revolutionary doctrine that all men are free and equal before the law, and possess inalienable rights which even Mr. Tweed is bound to respect.
Nast featured an imaginary local brouhaha in his cartoon The Chinese Question.

Nast places an angry, defiant Columbia front and center to confront the Workingmen menace and she serves as a reminder of America’s values. She stands over a crouched and defeated Chinese man. In addition, Nast utilizes what would become a favorite technique — to plaster current controversy on a wall of public protest. On the wall, all the various forms of hate speech spouted against the Chinese could be read and considered.

Chinese are in kind referred to as “coolies” “slaves,” “paupers” and “rat eaters.” Rat eaters, in particular, became a favorite and virulent Chinese stereotype deployed to great effect, especially on the West Coast,  in order to dehumanize the Chinese and affirm their “otherness.”  “Barbarians” and “heathens” are additional descriptive terms prominently displayed. The placards pronounce the Chinese as the “lowest and vilest of human race,” “vicious and immoral” declares another.  Nast’s wall is an effective tool. It collects the hate speech used within the local white labor community.

 Each layer of verbal expression collects and builds like pounds in a pressure cooker. Workingmen would stop at no insult to rid themselves of the Chinese menace. The Chinese must go. “Their importation must be stopped.” Nast plastered the prejudice for all to see their ugly truth and consider the lie.

Nast created a clear visual divide on the issue. The hard edge on the right separates Columbia and the Chinese man from the trouble that is arriving from the other side. Columbia’s body stands in the path as a violent mob approaches. The vertical division creates a tension and theatrical suspense against what comes next and who might prevail.

Whipped up by the Tammany frenzy is New York’s version of the Workingmen’s Party. Led by Nast’s quintessential brawny Irish leader, they angrily turn the corner toward Columbia and the Chinese man. Nast dresses his thugs as would-be gentlemen  – his Irish brute wears a waistcoat and top hat. The high fashion does not change his savage character or propensity for violence.

Nasts's "Irish Brute"
Well-dressed as he may be, his face betrays his brutality. His features are roughly chiseled, his steely stare focuses on the impending attack. He brandishes a club in one hand and a rock in the other. This Irish ringleader is eager for some good old-fashioned mob violence. 

Behind him, four other men are visible, and by their normal faces, not all are Irish. All are white and possess guns or weapons and expressions of anger. Behind them, faceless mob members carry signs in the air. One sign reads, “If our ballot will not stop them coming to our country, the bullet must.”

Nast reprises New York Draft Riot imagery of 1863 to recreate a scene in 1871 and give it additional implications. Nast had provided eye-witness drawings of the New York City draft riots and had not overly implicated the Irish in the violence. By including 1863 draft riot imagery to this event, Nast links Irish involvement with racial violence. In the background lies the evidence of their most notorious mob activity–the lynching and destruction of a “colored” community.   
The Orangemen’s Riots followed later that summer on July 11-12, 1871 and Nast would once again deploy the same lynching imagery against the Irish. During the same riot, a colored orphanage burned to the ground. By including a smoldering orphan asylum in the background, Nast indicates this mob and associating the participants to the crime.  A barren tree is seen in the distance. An empty hangman’s noose dangles from a leafless tree. Below makeshift tombstones acknowledge buried rights, blood, and strikes. With the African American issue handled and put in their rightful place, graves, the Irish-led mob turns to provide their answer to the Chinese question. One problem down, one more problem to go.

Nast’s audience understood the significance of Columbia’s inclusion. She appears in Nast cartoons with great effect and is a formidable challenger to thwart Tweed.  Having fought and won many battles, she alone has the wherewithal to protect an emotionally defeated Chinese man. Slumped against a wall, framed by “heathen,” “idolater,” and exclamations of paganism, he is confused and helpless against this onslaught of white terror and oppression. He raises one knee to support a clutched hand and lowered head. His eyes are closed and his expression is one of utter despair. Columbia’s long tresses toss as she turns her head, alerted to the approaching mob. Her tiara is marked “U.S.” Her right hand gently touches the head of the crouched Chinese man.  Columbia’s left hand rises above her waist and over her heart into a fist. Her neckline bears a shield of America’s stars and stripes. Her expression is resolute.  She will not stand for what is about to go down. She addresses the mob, “Hands off, gentlemen! America means fair play for all men.” Columbia is Nast’s voice.

Columbia defended the downtrodden before. Consider how Nast uses her for “And Not This Man?” on August 5, 1865.

And not this man? Columbia argues for Civil Rights for a wounded African American veteran. Harper’s Weekly, August 5, 1859. Library of Congress

Here, as in the Chinese Question, Columbia advocates for civil rights, this time for a wounded African American Civil War veteran. Although seriously wounded, he stands erect. He possesses a quiet dignity. 

Columbia touches him at the shoulder and invites him to step up for consideration as an American. She is speaking to his legislative detractors who appear on an accompanying page.

In Nast’s Chinese Question, Columbia touches the head of the Chinese man. Although he Is able-bodied, he cannot stand on his two legs, he is unable to face his accusers as a whole man, even with Columbia by his side.

Nast has intentionally weakened the Chinese man in the face of the mob. The question is why.  Is it to evoke empathy for the Chinese man, is it to make the mob look worse than what they were? Could Nast have drawn the Chinese with more dignity? The Irish were afraid of labor competition.  Struggling to get established in America the Irish organized in their new home and resolved that they would not suffer the oppression they experienced in their homeland of Ireland. As Timothy Meagher has noted, the Irish had no history of prejudice or exhibited any racist behavior in Ireland.  They possessed, Meagher suggests, all of the sensitivities necessary to be empathetic to others who were oppressed. But in nineteenth-century Ireland, the Irish had learned that organization and activism produced results, albeit limited.

The new Irish immigrant in America faced hurdles other immigrants, such as the Germans did not. Because of the Great Famine, they arrived in very large numbers and in the most destitute of conditions. As Roman Catholics, they were considered by the Protestant population as members of a strange cult, unwilling to assimilate to American culture. These built-in prejudices, Meagher argues, forced the Irish to assert their “whiteness” and be demonstratively aggressive to other races, in particular, African Americans and Chinese Americans. Meagher cites the work of Moses Rischin who observed that Irish Catholics who aligned against the Chinese in California, and Irish Catholics who aligned with Democratic anti-abolitionists in the South, found greater acceptance into the white Protestant mainstream of their respective communities if they joined others who expressed racial paranoia.

The prevailing view of many historians asserts that the Irish feared any form of labor competition. The banding together of white against black would not work to the Irish’s favor in the Northeast, and Meagher offers several opinions that dispute a view that the Irish were afraid of southern blacks seeking northern jobs. Meagher warns against drawing such simplistic conclusions that point strictly at racial tensions or only that only targeted African Americans.

The Irish were hostile to all competitors including other ethnicities. They fought with Germans and Chinese. Real fear existed that a “powerful Republican Party and rich industrialists, would overpower the Irish” (223).  Meagher notes that the New York Times was exasperated with the Irish, writing in 1880, “the hospitable and generous Irishman has almost no friendship for any race but his own. As laborer and politician, he detests the Italian. Between him and the German-American citizen, there is a great gulf fixed…but the most naturalized thing for the Americanized Irishman is to drive out all other foreigners, whatever may be their religious tenets” (223). Observations such as these, Meagher suggests, establish that tensions went beyond Irish-African-American tension and violence. The Chinese were easy targets.

As victims of the English oppression and prejudice in their homeland, and again in America, as targets of nativist and Protestant fears in America, the Irish directed their paranoia, distrust toward non-Irish and non-Catholics.  Irish Americans battled persistent and ill-informed scientific theory which classified them as a unique and inferior human race.  The Irish were not considered white. For Irish-Americans, defining others as inferior was an early step in self-preservation. As other ethnicities began to fear the Chinese,  many Irish not only latched on to this common concern but took the lead in ridding the nation of the menace. By attacking the Chinese, the Irish could prove their “whiteness” and earn a legitimate place in American society. Once severely oppressed in Ireland, and again in America, many Irish turned the tables by becoming the oppressors. Nast would never let the Irish forget this irony.

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