No Women Allowed: The Early History
In view of the Constitution, in the eyes of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color blind. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.
Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan dissenting opinion, Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
AND CONSTITUTION SAY NO WOMEN ALLOWED
At some early stage in our lives, most, if not all, of us--either in school or by osmosis--learn the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. This is the document that established what we, as a country, were, are, and should be. It is the document that, in essence, sets the tone for the country.
The preamble to this august document begins as follows: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, . . ." Most of us, unless we had been exposed to some more critical thinkers, were led to believe that "we" meant "all": all colors, all religions, all sexes, and so on. And, the same, of course, must be said about the Declaration of Independence, the document that incorporated into our legacy the notion that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. We learn this declaration in our early school years. We understand it as our statement of divorce from an unfair and unjust ruler, while simultaneously charting the course for our new country. We are led to believe that its