Skip to main content

tv   Discussion on Reconstruction and the U.S. Supreme Court  CSPAN  April 26, 2015 10:30pm-11:26pm EDT

10:30 pm
of seven black ledges features -- legislatures and how hate groups promoted white supremacy. the speech is one of the series of four posted by the supreme court historical society. it was in the supreme court chamber and he is introduced by supreme court justice anthony kennedy. this is just under an hour. [applause] justice kennedy: thank you again for coming. my remarks will not trespass on those of our distinguished speaker, saying to make two different points. one is to introduce professor michael rose. the flash ross -- ross.
10:31 pm
but first, to note that we should all feel privileged to be here this evening. this is the first in a series of lectures that have been renamed. these are now called the leon silverman supreme court lectures. leon was simply wonderful. he was the president of the supreme court historical society in the early 1990's. i think in 1991 until 2002. he was a fascinating man. he is to say at these events people don't want to talk to me. , they want to talk to the justices. if you knew leon, i think there is considerable doubt about that. he said despite my wit and charm, they want to talk to the justices. i think they wanted to talk to leon. he was a dynamo of energy. he is one of these dynamos who had great professionalism and dignity and great admiration for the law.
10:32 pm
he broadened the base of the society by searching for members nationwide and professors, by searching for academic and highly talented writers to become interested in the supreme court historical society journal which now has three issues every year. leon died not long ago. for his surviving wife, his lovely wife rita, naming the lecture series after him is a very small thing but for us, it is meaningful. leon understood that law and history in our traditions and our heritage and nation are interdependent. history is what defines the american people and its purpose
10:33 pm
and their mission and their destiny. the history of the law and the history of our freedom must not be lost. we must transmit the ideas of our country to the next generation. it is not just the president has to preserve the constitution every citizen has to do that. but you cannot preserve what you have not studied. you cannot protect when you do -- what you do not comprehend. you cannot defend what you do not know. it is so important that we teach the next generation that they are the trustees of a tradition that can only be understood if it is taught and teaching is a conscious act. leon understood that so well and that was the purpose of the
10:34 pm
society. by being here, it gives us the opportunity to thank him for -- thank you for thinking about the importance of the supreme court historical society and what it means in the larger scheme of the meaning of our law and the meaning of our tradition of freedom. this is the first of four lecture series on the reconstruction period. professor ross is marvelously qualified to become our first lecturer on that subject. the subject is the supreme court, reconstruction and the , civil war. the professor was going to be a historian. i think he was thinking about that because he took his masters at the university of
10:35 pm
massachusetts and then he went to law school. he went to duke and did very well. we lost him from the practice of law and he became a historian again and did his phd at the university of north carolina at chapel hill. this was fortunate for the law and for history. the professor has written a recent book. i told him i sent for it and i shouldn't be reading this kind of thing this time of year. i have read it. -- i have not read it. the title is "the great new orleans kidnapping case." his previous book is "justice of shattered dreams." i will give you an exam question for your class. name at least three sentences in which we are talking about justice of shattered dreams.
10:36 pm
it's a fascinating book. he recites one instance, miller particularly disliked pretentious lawyers who talked too long or cited too many ancient sources. some lawyers may feel that works two ways. [laughter] justice kennedy: in one representative incident, miller presiding over courtroom while a self-important attorney blathered on, finally broke in after the attorney ignored his glares. brown, come to the point. what point, the lawyer replied. miller replied, any point, some point. [laughter] justice kennedy: there is a wonderful passage about abraham lincoln and his appointment of miller. did not meet miller. miller was confirmed in half an hour. those were the good old days. [laughter]
10:37 pm
justice kennedy: the professor writes, they had very similar backgrounds. the parallels between lincoln and miller were hardly startling. there's was a common story, played out many times in the antebellum west, working hard, born in kentucky, trying to establish yourself in the community and profession. he said, the parallels are hardly startling. he said but while they shared similar backgrounds and held many of the same views, wartime priorities masked sharp differences in economic policy. in our meeting with the professor before we came out here, my question was, is the reconstruction period a mystery for many people.
10:38 pm
in my own studies of the founding the jacksonian , democracy period before the civil war, and then the industrial revolution of 1890's. the first world war and the period between the second world war, we can get a handle on it. but the construction has many threads. for many reasons. it is difficult and very important to understand who we are and how we got to where we are in this point in our history. it is a great pleasure to know that professor ross is going to give us the first of four lectures on reconstruction, the supreme court and the civil war. please welcome professor ross. [applause]
10:39 pm
prof. ross: thank you justice kennedy for that kind introduction. it was justice kennedy who asked that miller's portrait be brought out here. i guess because i'm the leading miller scholar, which is always worked well for me. my wife fell in love with me because i was the leading miller scholar. [laughter] prof. ross: thank you to the supreme court historical society for inviting me and jennifer lowe whose organization and intellectual efforts make this lecture series work. i want to offer my sympathies to the family of leon silverman a person who gave so much time and energy to the supreme court historical society. i would like to open tonight with a disclaimer.
10:40 pm
i'm about to give an account of the struggle during the start of the reconstruction era between the president to congress and the supreme court to define the meaning of the civil war. to determine what all the death and destruction of the war had been for. the story i will tell is one of men in powerful positions shaping national policy. i don't want anyone to leave tonight with the misleading idea that this struggle was occurring only in the core doors of power -- corridors of power in washington. the struggle that defined the meaning of the civil war was taking place during reconstruction on every road, in every field in the south, in every interaction between former slaves and former masters, in meetings of women suffragists and black union league activists. in workshops of artisans crafting monuments to the dead and at the desks of countless men and women writing letters, diaries and memoirs about their lives.
10:41 pm
this lecture series opens with this lovely picture. it opens with the events that took place 150 years ago in the spring of 1865 as the american civil war came to a close. after four years of bloody conflict, over 700,000 americans laid dead. more americans died in the civil war than in all of the other wars the united states has fought in its history combined. hundreds of thousands of men who survived the war were missing limbs or suffering other debilitating physical and psychological injuries. much of the south lay in ruins. it's cities burned and its infrastructure destroyed. economic historians estimate that the war cost $6.6 billion in direct costs in 1860's dollars. to give you a sense of how much money that was in the 1860's, had the politicians decided not
10:42 pm
to fight a civil war and to spend the money another way, the federal government could have purchased the freedom of all 4 million slaves, granted a 40 acre farm to each slave family and still had $3.5 billion left over to pay reparations. for a century of lost wages. as the war came to a close americans wondered what would all of these costs be for. what would the meaning of the civil war be? what would be the status of the former confederate states? what would happen to leaders of the rebellion? like jefferson davis and robert e. lee. most importantly, what would happen to the 4 million formerly enslaved people in the south? finding answers to these questions was complicated by the fact that the civil war did not end with a peace treaty. there was no treaty signing on the deck of a battleship like at the end of world war ii.
10:43 pm
although lee surrenders, grant -- although lee's surrender is often seen as the end of the war. grant simply told lee his men could stack their arms and go home. president lincoln and most members of the republican party had evolved during the war from viewing it as a war to save the union and popular government to a war that would end slavery and give the nation as lincoln said famously, a new birth of freedom. but in the spring of 1865, lincoln is just getting his reconstruction act together and what we know comes from things he says in cabinet meetings and a speech he gives at the white house after lee's surrender. but it is fragmentary. here is essentially what we know lincoln was planning. an army would remain in the south until the natural order of things was restored. the southern states would have to ratify the 13th amendment
10:44 pm
that abolished slavery. he did not want the old confederate leaders back in power. he kind of hoped they would leave the country. he did not want war crimes trials but he did not want them back in power. there would be a freedmen's bureau. at lincoln's urging, congress passed the bill for the freedmen's bureau, a federal agency that would aid the slaves' transition into freedom. he posited in the speech at the white house suffrage for at least some african american men 180,000 african-americans would -- you had -- who had fought in union ranks. he would say, very intelligent african-americans because he had met people like douglass. at that speech that he is given, john wilkes booth hears that and says, now i will put him through.
10:45 pm
the following friday, a week after lee's surrender. john wilkes booth assassinates lincoln at ford's theater. a long struggle to define the war's meaning began. between the new president andrew johnson, the republicans in congress and ultimately the justices of the supreme court. upon taking power, andrew johnson tried to define the meaning of the war unilaterally. he was only in office for one month when he announced a sweeping reconstruction policy. back in 1864, the republicans had selected johnson, a democrat , as lincoln's vice presidential running mate to show unity. johnson was the only u.s. senator from a seceded state who had remained in the senate rather than resigned and joined the confederacy.
10:46 pm
as vice president, johnson had talked tough about the need to punish the south. treason must be made odious, he said. the traders -- traitors must be punished and impoverished. their plantations must be seized and divided into small farms and sold to honest, industrious men. in may 1865, president johnson announced a policy so lenient to the south that it left his republican supporters flabbergasted. he offered sweeping amnesty to most former confederates. all confederates had to do was swear an oath of renewed allegiance to the united states and they would be allowed back in as if nothing had happened. the only exceptions to this policy were high-ranking civil military and judicial officers of the confederacy, war criminals and individuals who , before the war had held more than $20,000 in taxable property.
10:47 pm
the planter class who johnson had always hated. to regain their citizenship, planters and confederate leaders would have to appeal to johnson for a personal pardon. but those pardons, johnson grants liberally. first by the dozens than the -- then the hundreds, then the thousands. in the spring of the summer of 1865, pardon seekers choked the white house as johnson granted over 7000 pardons, leaving only a handful of the confederate leaders disenfranchised. as for former slaves, johnson's policies offered them little except a constricted freedom despite his previous tough talk. no land in the south will be redistributed and no african-american man, even those 180,000 that fought in the union ranks would receive the right to vote. this was a country for white men and as long as i'm president it
10:48 pm
shall be a government for white men, johnson said. that summer johnson allowed , white southerners to hold state elections that resulted in the election of legislators that filled with ex-confederates, who immediately began passing the infamous black codes. laws designed to re-create as much of the antebellum racial and economic order as possible. the various black codes band african-americans from serving on juries, marrying or socializing with white people, owning firearms, meeting in groups of six or more after sundown, using insulting language toward whites. the codes required that at the beginning of each year african-americans sign labor contracts or be arrested, find with vagrancy and hired out to a local planter to pay the fine. if i had time, i could go on all night about other onerous
10:49 pm
provisions but two of our greatest historians are here with us this evening. i've asked them to lecture on the black codes after the reception. [laughter] prof. ross: just kidding. what is clear is that johnson's policies allowed white southerners to breathe a sigh of relief. this is not going to be bad they thought. ex-confederates were back in power, slavery was ended but much of the old racial and labor order was restored and they appeared to have an ally in the white house. johnson even allowed the south to hold federal elections and to elect ex-confederates back to congress including alexander stevens who is reelected to his old georgia congressional seat. where were the republicans in congress while this was going on? out of session. congress met for a short time.
10:50 pm
you were not supposed to be a full-time politician. they had just adjourned in march of 1865 when the war came to a close and they would not return until december. andrew johnson was left alone at the helm for eight of the most critical months in u.s. history. even though republicans would fight johnson when they returned many ex- confederates who had been expecting the worst were now emboldened and ready to obstruct republican initiatives by any means necessary. when the republicans returned to congress, they refused to seat stevens and the other politicians johnson allowed southerners to elect. citing the authority of congress to give the judge of the elections, congress told the south that they, not the president, would decide when the south would rejoin national government. after investigations by a joint committee on reconstruction determined that the situation in the south was a pollen that white southerners had not
10:51 pm
renounced secession, and that the lives of black leaders and northern men were not secure, a titanic struggle between the republicans of congress and president johnson over the fate of reconstruction and by extension the meaning of the civil war, ensued. in june 1866, over a year after the war ended, the republicans in congress offered terms of surrender in the form of the 14th amendment. before the south could elect officials to congress, the southern states would have to ratify an amendment that barred the leaders of the confederacy from holding federal office, penalized states that did not allow all men the right to vote , and repudiated the southern war debt. the amendment also included the famous language of section one that provides for birthright citizenship and then says no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges of the citizens of
10:52 pm
the united states, nor shall any state deprive people of life liberty, and property without due process of law and provide equal protection of the laws. there would be no more black codes. if you wanted to say people cannot meet in groups of six after sundown, fine, but it had to apply to both races alike. this was congress's peace treaty to the south. accept these terms, ratify this amendment and the southern , states could once again be equal partners in the national government. the white south spurred on by president johnson, refused. the only southern state that initially ratified was tennessee. exasperated, republicans in congress turned to what politicians today might call the nuclear option. they decided to do with they probably should have done all along. in 1867, they disbanded johnson's state government. declared that by rebelling the , southern states had reverted
10:53 pm
to a territorial status. or that those states were still in the grass of war and they placed the states of the old confederacy under military rule. they also tried to impeach and remove johnson. an effort that failed by one vote. military reconstruction had begun. under military reconstruction, federal troops protected newly appointed federal registrars tasked with enrolling african-american men in the south with the right to vote. with black men in franchised the southern states would elect new legislatures and call new state constitutional conventions to ratify the 14th amendment and draft state constitutions that protected the civil rights of african-americans. in 1869, congress tacked on an additional amendment, the 15th amendment. the south would also be required to ratify that made it
10:54 pm
unconstitutional to deny anyone, north or south, the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. for a time, there was a remarkable moment in the south where african-american men voted, served on juries, in state militias and in federal and state offices. in 1868, 600 black republicans elected to state legislatures. 14 to the house, two to the senate, six lieutenant governors thousands of judges and , sheriffs. jefferson davis' old senate seat in mississippi would be held by hiram rebels, and african-american. african-americans on juries and in a number of southern cities they integrated the police force, including new orleans where they integrated the detective bureau.
10:55 pm
african american detectives will be solving some of the most high-profile crimes in 1870, the theme of my new book, "the new orleans kidnapping case," which profiles one detective. here was a much more expansive meaning for the civil war. the union reunited slavery , ended, political representation for african american men and state laws like the black codes permanently abolished. but radical reconstruction was a fragile revolution. in many states, the republican -led by racial state government survived only with the support of federal troops. across the south, reactionary violence by paramilitary groups like the knights of the white camelia and the ku klux klan. presaged what might happen on a national scale if federal soldiers went home.
10:56 pm
at the same time, few northerners wanted the military patrolling the south as an army of occupation for very long. in the end, congressional republicans placed their confidence in what they believed was the transformative powers of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. northern republicans hoped that with the right to vote african-americans would soon be able to protect themselves. to defend their own rights. without the aid of the federal army. they believed white politicians hoping to gain election would have to campaign for black votes and as a result give the freed men and women a fair shake. and if somehow a reactionary white majority gained control of a southern state legislature african-americans could turn to the federal courts and the 14 th amendment to overturn laws or practices that replicated the black codes. the republicans' confidence was quickly tested because military reconstruction did not last very
10:57 pm
long. although biracial republican governments held onto power in some states longer than others. by 1877, most had collapsed, undone by myriad factors including the reactionary violence of groups like the klan. the collapse of the economy in 1873. that allowed the democrats who opposed reconstruction to regain control of the house of representatives. the loss of northern wills for continued intervention in the south and the contested presidential election in 1876 which resulted in rutherford hayes agreeing to end the military's involvement in southern affairs in return for his being allowed to peacefully resume office. here is where the supreme court enters the story. i have just discussed republicans placed great faith in the power of the civil war amendments to create and protect a new social order in the south.
10:58 pm
a new order that would justify the cost and sacrifices of the civil war. but as we all know, the power and purpose of constitutional amendments are subject to interpretation by courts. in particular, the supreme court. the 14th amendment for example was written using broad language. what were the privileges or immunities of national citizenship? what constituted due process? would the supreme court interpret the amendment in a way that conformed with the goals of the radical republicans or would they give the 14th amendment a more constricted meaning? on this point, many historians and scholars who view the class -- collapse of reconstruction as tragedy unfinished revolution, , do not paint a pretty picture. they argue beginning with the slaughterhouse cases in 1873 and then a long line of decisions spanning from cruickshank versus louisiana to plessy. the majority of justices in the
10:59 pm
supreme court deliberately undermined the power and purpose of the reconstruction amendments. in the slaughterhouse cases those of you who are nonlawyers, follow closely or i will lose you. in the slaughterhouse cases, the court's critics argue that the supreme court unduly restricted the meaning of the 14th amendment's privileges or immunities clause. here is what i mean. some historians argue that at least two of the framers of the 14th amendment, john bingham, a congressman who was the author of most of section one and senator jacob howard intended for the privileges and immunities clause to include the rights protected by the federal bill of rights. i know many people in the audience know this well but my students are always surprised to learn that before the civil war, your federal bill of rights did
11:00 pm
not apply against the states they only applied against the federal government. for protection of your rights to freedom of religion or speech, you had to look to your state constitution and hope something was in there that you could but now, some scholars argue that bingham and howard and others recognized that a ex-confederates regained control of the legislatures as they had under president johnson, the freedmen and republicans of both races would need the protections of the bill of rights to shield them from discriminatory laws and practices. and that they therefore intended for the privileges and immunities clause to incorporate the bill of rights against the actions. other scholars argue that the record is not so clear. that bingham and howard and other republicans never made the case, for state ratifying conventions and in the press.
11:01 pm
a dramatic shift in the system would protect individual rights across a broad swath. they would have used unambiguous language. the rest of the amendment is very specific. the court's critics, the failure to incorporate the bill your -- the bill of rights is seen as a deliberate effort to protect states rights and allow the restoration of white supremacy. today, this view of the court is found regularly in college text books that often contain sections on the supreme court and the retreat from reconstruction. i know you are dying to know where i stand in these debates. my clear answer is, it's complex. let's look at the slaughter-house cases. the opening salvo in a judicial campaign to restore white supremacy.
11:02 pm
a case can be made that justice samuel freeman miller, who wrote the opinion, and the other justices in the majority believed they were aiding the reconstruction governments in the south, not undermining them. rather than be the first step in a retreat, slaughterhouse upheld in -- an act passed in louisiana that moved the slaughterhouses of new orleans out of crowded neighborhoods and away from the city's water supply. based on similar laws that have worked in new york and philadelphia, the slaughterhouse law was part of a plan by the biracial legislature to win over voters by modernizing the states in the north's image. many new orleans residents caused -- called for the slaughterhouses to be moved. and the people calling for the law were white quarters, which thought that the log requiring to have their meat inspected by
11:03 pm
officials violated the 13th amendment's prohibition against involuntary servitude and the 14th amendment's equal protection clauses. their lawyer was john archibald campbell, a former supreme court justice who resigned in 1862 joined the confederacy and who during reconstruction, led in illegal campaign against louisiana's republican government that challenged every law the legislature passed, even needed help read your -- regulations. campbell hated the 14th amendment, but now was using it as one might use one poison as an antidote to another. campbell's most famous argument was that the health law violated
11:04 pm
the butchers'right to pursue an occupation on fedor by government regulations, and the 14th amendment's immunity clause protected individuals against their states in fringing on their natural rights. justice miller and the majority recognized the danger. if the court interpreted the clause so expansively, virtually any state law regulating the economy would be subject to challenging fed -- challenge in federal court. it would make the federal courts the perpetual sensors of all state legislation. by upholding the slaughterhouse law, the justice and the majority sided with louisiana's biracial reconstruction legislature, and they attempted to prevent the 14th amendment from being a tool for obstructionists and white plaintiffs and corporate interests. the majority opinion in slaughterhouse is filled with
11:05 pm
ringing language about the meaning of the war, and the civil war amendments. the civil war, miller explains was caused either question of whether slavery could expand to the west. it became a war over slavery itself as a result of the bitterness and force of the conflict. this is what miller writes. when the armies of freedom found themselves upon the soil of slavery, they could do nothing less than free the poor victims who were in -- whose forced servitude was the foundation of the quarrel. when hard-pressed in the contest, these men, who proved themselves men in this crisis, were accepted by the thousands to aid in suppressing the unlawful rebellion. slavery was at an and where the federal government succeeded in that purpose. miller does on to deprecate what
11:06 pm
happens after the war. the passage of the black codes. he says those imposed upon the colored race onerous disabilities, and curtailed their rights to such an extent that their freedom was of little value. he says this was the reason for the 13th-15th amendments. we repeat, then, in the light of this recapitulation of events, too recent to be called history but are familiar to us all. the most casual damage in the language of these amendments, no one could fail to be impressed by the purpose found in them all, without which none of them would have been suggested, leaving the freedom of slaves and the security of that freedom it and the protection of the new citizens from the oppression of those who would exercise unlimited power over them. i wanted to set that the music but that would be over the top.
11:07 pm
we will come back to this in just a second. to be sure, there are some decisions by the court that clearly seem to purposely undermine the vision republicans in congress held the 14th amendment and reconstruction. let me give you an example. in 1875, as it became clear the military reconstruction might not last, a lame-duck republican congress made a last, desperate effort protect their vision of the civil war's meaning by passing a new civil rights act. they knew that the tide was turning against them. all the republicans held the white house and president grant supported reconstruction grant's influence had been undermined white corruption scandals. -- by corruption scandals. democrats committed to white supremacy in the south would
11:08 pm
control the house of representatives for the first time since before the civil war. as a last gasp, the congress passed the civil rights act of 1875, an act designed to give african-americans a version of freedom. citing the authorities of the amendments that gave congress the power to enforce those amendments, the civil rights act included language that said that all people within the jurisdiction of the united states shall regardless of race, be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, and privileges of public places, theaters, and places of amusement. the act reflected republicans's believe that being an -- a citizen included equal access to public accommodations licensed by states. businesses north and south quickly run a foul of the law. the federal court is filled with
11:09 pm
litigation as business owners challenged indictments and finds -- finds they face. the supreme court had cases from multiple states, combined into what was known collectively as the civil rights cases. in two of these cases, white business owners denied african-americans hotel rooms. in two, they were denied him -- admission to the opera. in one, railroad officials refuse to allow an african-american woman to ride in the ladies car of the train. in 1883, the supreme court declared the civil rights act to be unconstitutional. congress, the court declared did not have authority under the 13th amendment to pass the law. being denied access to the opera, they said, was not slavery. the court's majority concluded the 14th amendment provided redress only on the operation of state laws, like the black codes or actions by state officers
11:10 pm
not private individuals. nor shall any states, that means the state government, not private citizens, it did not give congress the authority to create a code of municipal law for the regulation of private rights. in his majority opinion, justice bradley added this rhetorical flourish, which looks unfortunate in hindsight, given what some -- what occurred in the south. he said, when a man emerges from slavery, by the aid of legislation has shaken off that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, that ceases to be the special favorite of the laws. when his rights as a citizen are to be protected in the ordinary
11:11 pm
modes by which other men pass rights are protected. in his guy sent, john marshall harlan noted that given what has happened thus far, it is scarily -- scarcely just to say that the colored race has been a favorite of the law. for many commentators, the court's decision in the civil rights cases prove the courts were undermining the purpose of the civil war amendments in order to allow white supremacy to be restored in the south. the slaughterhouse cases failed to prove the point, the civil rights cases are the smoking gun. evidence that the court shared president johnson's view of the meaning of the war, rather than the view of congress shall republicans. despite the fact that all the justices in the majority in the cases had been appointed by republican presidents. this view of the court reflects the fact that we know how this turns out.
11:12 pm
eventually, the forces of reaction win. the era of jim crow arrives. at the end of the century, the court allows separate but equal segregation. i believe that most of the justices in 1883, the civil war generation republicans, as opposed to those would later decide plessy versus ferguson, hope for a different result. one would lead to full equality for african-americans. although we often mark the end with reconstruction in 1887, when president hayes ordered federal troops to stand down african-americans did not immediately lose their political clout. in virginia, the re-adjustor party, a biracial coalition of poor whites and blacks committed to public education, won control of the state legislator and sent to the u.s. senate a former confederate general who actively supported black voters. i will be selling t-shirts with him on them out of the back of
11:13 pm
my car later. he is a serious dude. that election fueled the republican justices'hopes that if you protected african-americans's writes -- rights, equal access to public accommodations would naturally follow. when the day came that both political parties courted african-american voters, and the black vote split between republicans and democrats, racial animosities would crumble. african-americans could be assimilated into the main currents of american life without abandoning federalism. i know this is what the justice i wrote about, miller, a moderate, believed. this was reflected in often-ignored decisions the court ordered at the same time as the civil rights cases.
11:14 pm
in 1880, the court announced a slew of decisions protecting the rights of african americans to serve on juries. in what case, the court ruled that a west virginia law limiting jury service to white men violated the 14th amendment. in virginia versus reeves, the court barred efforts by southern states to administratively exclude lacks from juries. -- blacks from juries. when they only included people of good moral character, the court declared these practices unconstitutional. in the process of holding federal indictments of state officials charged with discriminatory behavior, in delaware in 1880, the court ruled a black defendant convicted by a white jury from which blacks were excluded, had the right to have his conviction overturned. they believed that juries had
11:15 pm
the intelligence, experience and moral character to fat -- serve on juries. the fact that no african-american jury had ever served in delaware presented a case of denial of the quality of protection under the law. in 1882, in another case, the court upheld the federal convict shannon -- conviction of a ku klux klan's men who terrorized a black man who was voted in in the recent elections. they convicted the man for nearly beating the man to death. his attorneys filed a writ of habeas corpus, pointing to the recent precedents in the civil rights cases. in cruikshank versus louisiana they claimed the 15th amendment
11:16 pm
did not give the government the right to pat -- punish private citizens. they could prosecute state officials, but not citizens. justice miller and the court disagreed. yarborough, miller gave a reading to the 15th amendment. congress's constitutional authorities to make regulations on holding elections. in powerful language, miller described the threats to american democracy he saw from violent white supremacist in the south, and wealthy capitalist and corporations in the north. this is the rise of the robber barons. this is what he says. if the recurrence of such violent act as these prisoners stands convicted of, are two common, in one quarter of the country, and give only the danger of lawless violence, the free use of money in elections arises in the vast wrote of
11:17 pm
recent wealth in other orders presents equal cause for anxiety. no lover of his country can shut his eyes to the future danger from both sources. someone needs to write a biography on this guy. there it is. now, as i have said several times, we know how this struggle over the meaning of the civil war amendments, and by extension the meaning of the civil war ends in the 19th century. in the 1890's, southern states provide -- pass laws that require businesses to separate their customers by race, laws that segregate schools and public facilities, that disenfranchise african-americans through poll taxes and literacy text -- literacy tests. this time, the justices capitulated completely to the white south, abandoning the commitment to do process they had shown in cases like neal
11:18 pm
versus delaware and yarborough. instead, they sanction cases like plessy and williams versus mississippi to the system of jim crow. the next speaker in this series, given what i know about her, i am certain she will offer a detailed explanation for the courts's surrender to the old ways. i will say now, and the answer lies in a profound generational transition. by the time of plessy, all but one of the justices appointed by lincoln and grant, the civil war era justices, had tied or retire. in their place were younger men, some of whom embrace the tenets of social darwinism and legal formalism which are subjects for another talk. all of whom would be notable -- with the notable exception of harming, embrace the eighth of reconciliation between the white north and south that accompanied the spanish civil war.
11:19 pm
the civil war generation was starting to die. most white americans, including historians, came to agree that it was good that the south lost the civil war, the union was saved, and slavery ended, even a some argued it wasn't that bad. but that it was also good that reconstruction, the tragic era of carpetbaggers and scally wags, failed, and weights of premises were -- white supremacy was restored. it was soon clear that radical republicans in congress have lost and moderate republicans in the supreme court lost. the struggle to define the civil war had been one -- had been won. thank you. [applause]
11:20 pm
>> you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend. to join the conversation, like us on race book c-span history. >> at the international consumer electronics show in las vegas earlier this year, we spoke with university of california san francisco cardiologist dr. michael bluhm about developments in medical technology and the future of medicine. >> you have to bring together these two very different organizations, in two different dnas and cultural to get to that space worried need to be. we're not going to build huge databases. that's what they are going to do. they are graded that stuff, but they don't know anything about clinical process are doing
11:21 pm
clinical trials and what really works in biological systems. so were working on the partnerships and trying to attach the space. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. >> each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn what artifacts reveal about american history. now we visit the news him in washington dc, to view an exhibit to mark the 100 50 and anniversary of lincoln's assassination. the news unfolded after the first associated press report that the president had been shot. >> on the curator and director of collections. we are in our new lincoln exhibit called president lincoln's debt. this exhibit has a really tight
11:22 pm
focus on seven editions of the new york herald which was the most widely circulated newspaper of the time that was published in the 18 hours immediately following lincoln's assassination. so it is amended by minutes story of the news as it happened, as people were getting it in this country, about the assassination of lincoln. one of the ways we help people understand not just the time but place is through this great map that we have on the floor in the center of the gallery. because we are almost in this building at the epicenter of things. the museum is on the site of the national hotel which is the hotel where booth stated before he committed the horrible crime.
11:23 pm
the first addition is that 2 a.m. which was the morning paper at that time. it covered essentially, it is the breaking news. it uses the paper because at that time went a surprise, silent attack on someone. it did not necessarily mean something that resulted in death. it has come to mean that over the gears, but it's interesting. i hope people get that understanding of how people at the time are getting their news. this was really a moment in time where everything had come together, the complete proliferation of the telegraph. still a squadron of reporters available because we were just coming off the war, the capacity to move so swiftly with the pressman they had, to be able to
11:24 pm
push this much news out this rapidly. to the best of our knowledge this is the first time all seven editions of the herald have been together since they were printed 150 years ago, and of course that sesquicentennial investigation of the assassination of lincoln is the reason for the -- for this exhibit. lincoln always fascinates people to this day, but this year in particular is important because it marks the 150th anniversary of his assassination. the first president in our history to be assassinated, and it's a really important point in time. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs anytime by visiting our website at,/history. >> incorporated by congress on march 3, 1865, the friedman's bank was created to spur on
11:25 pm
economic development of the newly emancipated african american population in the post-civil war era. despite significant financial contributions from figure such as frederick douglass, the friedman's bank failed in 1874 leaving tens of thousands of depositors in financial ruin. shortly, brief history of the friedman's bank, by national archives reference archivist. this event is about 30 minutes. >> good evening and welcome to the national archives. we want to give your brief presentation of some of the friedman bank records. most people are not familiar with the records. here at the national archives, the largest amount of patrons behalf coming here now our family historians and genealogical researchers.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on