For African Americans, northern states offered their only prospect for freedom. Enslaved blacks escaped to the North by the thousands, hoping to find relief from slavery and discrimination. Many of them found freedom; but they hardly enjoyed a respite from racial prejudice. The North, for example, paved the way for legal segregation. Massachusetts led the way in 1849 in the case of Roberts v. the City of Boston. The law required Benjamin Roberts' six-years-old daughter Sarah to pass by at least two schools reserved for whites on her way to a school for African-American children. The State Supreme Court did not provide relief. It ruled that the existence of a school for black children satisfied the equal protection of the laws clause in the State Constitution. Such discrimination against African Americans was prevalent in Ohio. The state assembly initially closed all public schools to black youths. The Supreme Court revised this rule by admitting mulattoes to schools reserved for whites. The only condition was that those persons had to have a preponderance of white features. The state assembly approved this practice by enacting the Visible Admixture Law. Appearance, therefore, determined who could receive the privileges of being white. Antislavery lawyers prevailed on the Court to outlaw segregation. In Van Camp v. Logan ( 1859), the Court rejected their pleas. The following documents describe this problem of educating black children in the public schools of Ohio.
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Publication information: Book title: The Black Laws in the Old Northwest:A Documentary History. Contributors: Stephen Middleton - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 33.
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