Slavery, Reconstruction and the Rise of Jim Crow
From the Founding Era until the end of Jim Crow segregation, law and courts were the principal institutional mechanisms that constructed race as a master category and reinforced racial hierarchy and subordination in the United States. The cases presented in this chapter highlight the impact of race on American constitutional and statutory development in the creation of a proslavery American Constitution in 1787, the enactment of national legislation that strengthened the institution of slavery, the issuance of national and state court rulings that protected the institution of slavery, and how a civil war transformed the Framers’ proslavery Constitution into one that granted the enslaved citizenship and the promise of equality. The Reconstruction Amendments, together with several progressive civil rights statutes designed to protect black civil rights, were interpreted narrowly by a Supreme Court that was sympathetic to states’ rights and undercut the promise of racial equality. In 1896, the Supreme Court struck the final blow to black civil rights when it legalized segregation of the races.