Racial Distinctions in Southern Law

Gilbert Thomas Stephenson
1906 American Political Science Review  
The suffrage clauses recently adopted by six of the Southern States, beginning with Mississippi in 1890 and ending with Virginia in 1902, have disqualified for the elective franchise a majority of the negroes of voting age without appreciably diminishing the possible number of white voters. In other words, there have been racial distinctions in the matter of suffrage without their being so defined in the letter of the law. Now, the question is: Are these suffrage distinctions the only racial
more » ... the only racial distinctions found in the Southern law, either expressed or implied, or are they only members of a group of such distinctions which have been evolving since the negro has been a free man? In this paper it shall be my aim to show briefly that the latter is the case, that there are other racial distinctions recognized in the Southern law, that some of the distinctions once present in Southern codes and constitutions have since been dropped, and that others have been introduced from time to time. And by making the suffrage distinctions only links of a chain, I hope that we shall arrive at some conclusion as to the trend of Southern legislation with regard to the negro.The general subject of racial distinctions is practically limitless in extent. Many of these distinctions are as intangible as race prejudice itself and take various methods of expression. Instead, therefore, of undertaking a general discussion of this inexhaustible subject, I shall narrow it to more manageable proportions by treating only one of its many phases.
doi:10.2307/1944845 fatcat:jo3qso56cve5pcwminoqbadhve