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Impact Of The Jim Crow Laws On Democracy

1776 words - 7 pages

During the early 1900s post reconstruction era, African Americans faced extreme injustice and prejudice in society. By being denied rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and being subject to outright racism, African Americans saw their democratic rights slowly being taken away from them. The Jim Crow laws were the facilitator of this democratic infringement through intimidation, as well as by the failings of our prized judicial system. By denying African Americans certain unalienable rights guaranteed to all American citizens, the Jim Crow laws were one of the greatest contractions of democracy in American history.
The Black codes were the predecessor too, and served as a blueprint for, the Jim Crow Laws. With the emancipation recently freeing thousands of slaves from bondage, whites Americans were now worried about what they would do about the enormous loss of manpower. Having no previous work experience, men and women didn’t know how to function without the slaves and servants they had become so accustomed to. (Wormser) Men were particularly worried about the loss of manpower in their fields. (Wormser) With cotton still the driving crop of the South, farmers needed hundreds of able-bodied men to be able to harvest enough cotton to meet the rising demands. In the home, women were terrified of losing their house slaves. Having no previous experience living home without servants or maids, wives and mothers did not know how to cook, clean, or even take care of their children. (Wormser) To combat this, the Black Codes were enacted to make sure that, regardless of their recent emancipation, African Americans were never really free (fofweb.com). The "… codes were based on an assumption that freedmen were immature and unable to make decisions for themselves." (Williams) Though their strength differed from state to state, their main intention was to deny freedom to newly freed slaves as much as possible (Williams). For example, in Nebraska "Marriages [were] void when one party is a white person and the other is possessed of one-eighth or more Negro, Japanese, or Chinese blood."(Jim Crow Laws). By losing the right to testify in court, vote, serve on a jury, and having the freedom to chose who to marry, African Americans saw their rightful position as a freed citizen with democratic rights dwindle.
In the years following the Reconstruction, the Black Codes changed shape, transforming into the Jim Crow laws. The laws originated down south when southern states moved to rewrite their constitutions (Williams). True to their historically racist attitudes, many southern states used these laws as a route to disenfranchise African Americans as much as possible. Though the Jim Crow laws denied African Americans many rights that the Constitution guarantees all American citizens the greatest one they violated was the right to vote. The laws used their power to essentially eliminate African Americans from the voting box. This was achieved through literacy tests,...

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