6.5.1 Deep South (1877-1920): The Rise of the "Straight-Outs" and Jim Crow


Jim Crow Constitutions

Leaders of the “straight-out movement” pushed for new state constitutions in order to reduce black power permanently and in some cases, eliminate legislative gerrymandering that had given Bourbons disproportionate power.  In 1890, Mississippi enacted a new constitution with voting restrictions that were racially neutral on their face but effectively prevented almost all blacks (and some whites) from voting.  South Carolina workers and farmers elected one of their own, Ben Tillman, to the governorship in 1890, and five years later Tillmanites enacted a new, “straight-out” constitution that effectively eliminated the black vote.  Most other Deep South states soon followed suit.  

South Carolina

1895: Voters must be able to read and explain state constitution

After 1898, must be able to read and write any part of the constitution, or must have property worth more than $300

Must have paid poll taxes

Georgia

1877:  Cumulative poll tax:  voters required to pay all present and past annual poll taxes in order to vote

1898:  Minimum educational requirement rejected 

Florida

 

Alabama

1901:  Voters must be able to read and write part of the U.S. Constitution

Must have been employed or unable to work for most of past 12 months, or must own at least 40 acres or $300 worth of property

Must have paid poll taxes

Veterans and descendants of all veterans through Civil War may vote

Persons “of good character” who understand the duties of citizenship may vote

Mississippi

1890: Voters must be able to read and understand part of state constitution

Must have paid poll taxes

Louisiana

1898: Must be able to read and write, or must own more than $300 of property

Persons entitled to vote prior to beginning of Reconstruction and their sons and grandsons may vote

"We are told the law of injustice will roll on until it reaches its climax, and then a reaction is bound to come.”  - Robert Anderson, one of six black delegates to South Carolina constitutional convention (1895) 


Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws

South Carolina

Georgia

Florida

Alabama

Mississippi

Louisiana

Suffrage:  poll tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffrage:  literacy

 

 

 

 

 

1900

Suffrage:  “understanding” clause

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whites-only primary elections

1895

1908

1885, 1889

1901

1890

1898

Segregation:  schools

1879

1870

 

1875

1878

 

Segregation:  railroads

1898

1891

 

1891

 

1891

Segregation:  streetcars

1905

 

 

1906

1904

 

Segregation:  public accommodations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscegenation

1879

 

 

1867

1880

 



“I insist that the federal government, the conqueror and public enemy of my country, has injected into the social organization and political body 500,000 savages, who, whatever their rights, are not fit to exercise the powers of government. … They are to be governed as every race of paupers are governed:  by those who own the property and who given them bread, and just the same as the red man is governed.” – Robert Toombs, in 1877 Georgia constitutional convention

“They [blacks] are in our power, and they have yielded us their suffrages for the time, and … it is for the people of Georgia to say what you will do for them from a sense of justice and duty.” - _ Wofford, in 1877 Georgia constitutional convention 

“There is in the white man an inherited capacity for government, which is wholly wanting in the Negro.”  - __Knox, Alabama constitutional convention (1901)

“[W]e are met in convention openly, boldly, without any pretense of secrecy, to announce that it is our purpose, as far as we may, without coming in conflict with the United States Constitution, to put such safeguards around this ballot in future, to so restrict the suffrage and circumscribe it, that this infamy [black suffrage] can never come about again … [We must] reduce [blacks’] voting strength so that there will never be enough of them to do more than to put either one white faction or the other in control of the government.” – Benjamin Tillman, South Carolina constitutional convention (1895)