Plessy v. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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In 1896, The Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson decision made legal a system of "separate but equal" racial segregation not overruled until 1954. Using the full text of the Court's opinion, along with a selection of responses to the ruling, Brook Thomas allows students to re-create a context of the complicated debates and conditions in which the decision took place.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312137434
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 205
  • Sales rank: 446,660
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Brook Thomas is chair of the English and Comparative Literature Department at the University of California, Irvine. After a book on James Joyce's Ulysses (1982), he turned his attention to the intersections of law, literature, and cultural history in the United States. He is author of Cross-Examinations of Law and Literature: Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, and Melville (1987): The New Historicism and Other Old-Fashioned Topics (1991); and American Literary Realism and the Failed Promise of Contract (1997). He has lectured on Plessy v. Ferguson to more than five thousand undergraduates over the course of several years.

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Table of Contents



The Civil War Amendments
The Slaughter-House Cases and Their Implications
The Civil Rights Cases and Their Consequences
Plessy's Argument before the Court
The Majority Decision
Harlan's Dissent


1. Plessy v. Ferguson, May 18, 1896

2. Selected Views on the "Race Question" at the Time of Plessy
John Tyler Morgan, The Race Question in the United States, September 1890
Frederick L. Hoffman, Race Amalgamation, August 1896
Henry M. Field, Capacity of the Negro—His Position in the North. The Color Line in New England, 1890
Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, September 18, 1895
Central Law Review, January 17, 1896

3. Responses to Plessy
The Press
Times-Picayune (New Orleans), Equality, but Not Socialism, May 19, 1896
Tribune (New York), The Unfortunate Law of the Land May 19, 1896
Union Advertiser (Rochester, New York), State Sovereignty, May 19, 1896
Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), A Strange Decision, May 20, 1896
Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), May 20, 1896
Evening Journal (New York), May 20, 1896
Journal (Providence, Rhode Island), May 20, 1896
Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), Separate Coaches, May 21, 1896
Weekly Blade (Parsons, Kansas), May 30, 1896
A.M.E. Church Review (Philadelphia), June 1896
Booker T. Washington, Who Is Permanently Hurt? June 1896
Legal Periodicals
Central Law Journal, August 14, 1896
Michigan Law Journal, 1896
American Law Review, 1896
Virginia Law Register, 1896
African American Intellectuals
W. E. B. Du Bois, Strivings of the Negro People, 1897
Charles W. Chesnutt, The Courts and the Negro, ca. 1911
Sixteen Years after the Decision
Charles Wallace Collins, From The Fourteenth Amendment and the States, 1912
Henry Billings Brown, Dissenting Opinions of Mr. Justice Harlan,1912



Members of the Court
Chronology of Events Related to Plessy (1849-1925)
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography


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