Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

  • Waldo E. MartinJr.
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Slaves achieved their freedom in the Civil War years through their own efforts, such as serving in the Union army or absconding to the Union lines, as well as through wartime legal measures such as Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863). During Reconstruction (1863–77), the government moved to make ex-slaves full-fledged Americans by abolishing slavery officially (Thirteenth Amendment, 1865), defining blacks as citizens (Fourteenth Amendment, 1868), and removing race as a barrier to the vote (Fifteenth Amendment, 1870). Constitutional law now extended civil rights to blacks and gave them the tools to sustain those rights. The Civil Rights Law of 1875 furthered black civil rights by banning racial discrimination in public accommodations, transportation, theaters, and civil arenas such as jury service. This federal statute clarified and expanded the meanings of civil rights and citizenship as outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment.


Racial Discrimination Fourteenth Amendment Personal Liberty Colored People Public Highway 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Waldo E. MartinJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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