No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment

By James E. Bond | Go to book overview

them, they cannot pass measures for their protection they had better suffer for a time."111

Black advocacy of the public schools and public carrier bills illuminated their understanding of the equal protection clause. Though they succeeded in getting a public schools bill passed, they acquiesced in a separate but equal clause (which a subsequent legislature amended to require equality only so "far as practicable"). 112 Similarly, the public carrier law, passed in 1870, required equal facilities but did not require integration. Custom dictated segregation, and in 1872 a United States commissioner ruled that a Savannah streetcar company could segregate passengers by race so long as it provided sufficient cars for blacks." 113

By 1872 Georgia had been readmitted to the Union once again and "redeemed"--though there was precious little to redeem. Reconstruction had had little impact on Georgia, which never really slipped from the control of native whites. They systematically and successfully employed violence to reinforce their authority and return the freedmen to peonage. 114 Poor blacks who had lived through slavery would nevertheless say later, reflecting on the hard life that they endured after emancipation: "When I thinks back, it warn't no good feelin' to be bound lak that. I sho' had rather be free. I guess after all it's best dat slavery days is over." 115 But the plaintive cry of the most radical of Georgia's Reconstruction blacks must have echoed endlessly in the minds of their more educated brethren--Du Bois's "talented tenth": "Are we yet slaves or are we free American citizens?" 116


NOTES
1.
Rome Tri-Weekly Courier, 3 February 1866.
2.
Ibid., 8 February 1866.
3.
Ibid.
4.
Albany Patriot, 8 June 1866.
5.
Newman Herald, 30 March 1867; accord, Daily Sun, 9 June 1867 (the "irrepressible negro" is an "incomprehensible natural puzzle").
6.
Savannah Daily News-Herald, 23 March 1866.
7.
Daily Constitutionalist, 27 November 1866.
8.
Daily Sun, 17 August 1867.
9.
Ibid., 8 August 1867.
10.
Augusta Chronicle-Sentinel, 16 February 1866.
11.
Albany Patriot, 14 March 1866; 22 September 1866.
12.
Macon Daily Telegraph, 11 February 1866.
13.
Rome Weekly Courier, 27 April 1866.
14.
Albany Patriot, 3 March 1866.
15.
Daily Constitutionalist, 12 March 1868.
16.
Daily Sun, 4 June 1868.
17.
Dawson Weekly Journal, 8 June 1866; accord, Macon Daily Telegraph, 24 April 1866:

-245-

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No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - The Remembered Past of the Fourteenth Amendment 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - Ratification in Tennessee 15
  • Notes 26
  • 3 - Ratification in Mississippi 33
  • Notes 47
  • 4 - Ratification in North Carolina 53
  • Notes 65
  • 5 - Ratification in Louisiana 75
  • Notes 95
  • 6 - Ratification in Alabama 101
  • Notes 114
  • 7 - Ratification in South Carolina 121
  • Notes 137
  • 8 - Ratification in Virginia 143
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - Ratification in Florida 169
  • Notes 183
  • 10 - Ratification in Arkansas 189
  • Notes 205
  • 11 - Ratification in Texas 211
  • Notes 225
  • 12 - Ratification in Georgia 231
  • Notes 245
  • 13 - The Imagined Future of the Fourteenth Amendment 251
  • Notes 272
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 289
  • About the Author 297
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