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How much would votes sell for in early America?

How much would votes sell for in early America?

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I am reading an essay by Alfred F. Young right now in which the author mentions that Gouverneur Morris said of enfranchising those without property:

Give the vote to people who have no property and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them.

I find the concept of selling votes to be interesting, and I imagine that different elections would have different prices for which votes would sell. I have not been able to find any information on what the range of prices for votes would be, and it seems like a very difficult thing to put a price on. Is there any literature available on the prices which would have been payed for votes in various elections in the period?

In the 1980's, in Duval County, Texas, a 50 dollar food stamp voucher was the bounty if you voted "correctly" in a local election.

I only know this because a co-worker's aunt was busted, along with two associates, for this. She had better lawyers and got the venue changed. Two years probation. Her two 'associates' did time in jail.

A Detailed Brochure for an 1855 Slave Auction Shows How People Were Sold as Property

This 1855 brochure for a New Orleans slave auction staged by the firm of J.A. Beard & May shows how dealers represented the personal qualities, work history, and physical attributes of enslaved people who were up for sale. In this auction, two plantations’ labor “gangs” were to be split up and sold by the heirs of deceased planter and investor William M. Lambeth. (The brochure was digitized by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, and is available via the Internet Archive.)

The “Terms” on the first page of the auction brochure show how the financial structure around purchasing enslaved people had evolved by the middle of the 1850s. Buyers doing business with Beard & May had to provide a down payment of one-third of the price, and could pay the remainder on credit the seller would earn 8% interest “in case of non-payment at maturity.” For buyers who weren’t wealthy enough to buy people outright, an investment in enslaved property was a financial commitment.

The auction brochure’s comments on health (“slightly lame from cut on instep” “sickly” “injured slightly in the head”) convey a reassuring sense of honesty in advertising. As historian Walter Johnson has written, buyers were suspicious of traders, and prided themselves on the ability to discern whether a person up for sale was “likely”—a word that could mean “strong,” “healthy,” “large,” or “willing to work.” Like other traders, Beard & May offered buyers access to the group before the auction, so that they could make their own evaluations by questioning and physically examining the people for sale.

Unusually, the people formerly owned by Lambeth were advertised for sale as family groups. Louisiana was one of the only states that had laws against selling very young children separately from their mothers—as historian Heather Williams writes, “the vast majority of enslaved children [in the United States] belonged to people who had complete discretion to sell them or give them away at will.” Even when an advertisement like this one stipulated that families were to be sold together, Williams writes, “the purchaser usually stood to make the final decision as to whether to take the whole group or only part.”

Voting in the United States

Voting is a process by which a person or a group of people expresses an opinion formally or officially. People vote in many situations (such as when students elect class officers at school). But voting usually refers to the act of citizens choosing candidates for public office or deciding on public issues and laws. In the United States, people vote at the local, state, and federal (national) levels.

Voting in the United States

To vote in the United States, one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old on election day. States also require various periods of residency before voting is permitted. Most states have two other rules as well: A voter cannot be a felon (someone who has committed a serious crime) or mentally incompetent.

In all states, voting is free. It is also voluntary no one can be forced to vote. It is also a crime to try to stop another person from voting. Voting is private &mdash no one can see how another person votes. And a person may vote only once in any election.

Each state, county, city, or ward (division of a city) is divided into voting districts called precincts. Before voting, people must register to vote in the precinct where they live. This consists of filling out a form with one's name, address, and other information. Registration ensures that people vote in the right place. People can usually register by mail.

Registration laws vary from state to state. In some states, citizens can register on election day. Typically, however, the registration deadline is several weeks before this. If a person fails to register in time, he or she will not be allowed to vote. Some states may require re-registration if a citizen misses a certain number of elections or changes address.

On election day, most voters go to a polling place to cast their ballots. This is usually a public building, such as a school, recreation center, city hall, or firehouse. Voters present themselves to the poll workers, provide identification, and receive the materials needed to vote.

Elections may take place at many different times. In the United States, general elections (for federal officials) are held every two years in even-numbered years. They are held on the Tuesday that falls between November 2 and 8.

In most cases, people vote by machine in private voting booths. Because elections in the United States are generally run by state and local governments, many kinds of voting machines and devices are in use. Today these have become increasingly computerized. A voter may touch a computer screen to cast a ballot or may fill out a computer-readable paper form.

People can also vote by mail they submit what is known as an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are especially useful for those who have difficulty getting to the polling place or who are away from their hometowns on election day.

After all the votes have been cast, poll workers and election officials count them (usually with help from computers) and declare which candidates and ballot measures (votes on public issues) have won. (For more information, see the article Elections.)

Winning the Right to Vote

In the early days of the United States, only about 120,000 people in a total population of more than 4 million could vote. Voting was usually limited to free white men who owned property and met certain religious qualifications. Eventually the right to vote became more widespread. By 1860 almost every state allowed all white men over 21 to vote.

After the Civil War (1861&ndash65) the 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave the vote to men of all races. In practice, however, most black people in the South did not gain the right to vote until the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women, after a long political struggle, won the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The right to vote has been further extended in recent decades. In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the Constitution gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. More recently, federal law has guaranteed the vote to people with disabilities and to those whose first language is not English.

Another important advance in the voting process has been the secret ballot. This allows people to vote without worrying about retaliation from others, including those in power. At one time, voting was not private. Before the Civil War, U.S. citizens often said their votes out loud or voted by raising their hands. After the Civil War, printed ballots became common. However, since these were distributed by individual candidates or parties and were often different colors or shapes, it was usually possible to tell whom someone was voting for.

It was not until the 1890s, when the Australian ballot came into use, that voting became truly secret. Under this system (so named for its earlier use in Australia), the names of all qualifying candidates were printed on a single ballot by the government. These could only be distributed at polling places, where voting was done in private booths. The use of voting machines has further ensured the secrecy of the vote.

Voting Today

In the United States, voter turnout &mdash the percentage of qualified voters who vote &mdash often depends on the type of election being held. More people tend to vote in presidential elections than in other kinds. Even in this case, though, many people who are qualified to vote do not. In the 2000 presidential election, for example, only 51 percent of the electorate (all qualified voters) turned out.

This was not considered unusual. But other voting issues during the 2000 election drew considerable public attention. Significant flaws in the voting process were revealed when the vote in Florida required a recount that lasted for 36 days. A close examination of the results showed that thousands of people had voted incorrectly. Thousands of other votes were unclear.

In fact, experts believe that between 1 and 4 percent of all votes are not counted as the voter intended. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to help eliminate voting errors and to give states money to improve their voting systems. However, some computer experts and citizens' groups continue to question the accuracy of computerized voting machines.

In 2004, a proposal to allow military personnel and other U.S. citizens living abroad to vote via the Internet was canceled after computer experts tested the process and found that it would be impossible to prevent hackers from tampering with election results.

Kay J. Maxwell
President, League of Women Voters of the United States

How to Cite This Article

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style:

Maxwell, Kay J. "Voting." The New Book of Knowledge. Grolier Online, 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. (use the date you accessed this page)

Chicago Manual of Style:

Maxwell, Kay J. "Voting." The New Book of Knowledge. Grolier Online (accessed October 12, 2015). (use the date you accessed this page)

APA (American Psychological Association) Style:

Maxwell, K. J. (2015). Voting. The New Book of Knowledge. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Grolier Online (use the date you accessed this page)

Copyright © 2007 Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

African origins Edit

The majority of African Americans are the descendants of Africans who were forced into slavery after being captured during African wars or raids. They were purchased and brought to America as part of the Atlantic slave trade. [3] African Americans are descended from various ethnic groups, mostly from ethnic groups that lived in Western and Central Africa, including the Sahel. A smaller number of African Americans are descended from ethnic groups that lived in Eastern and Southeastern Africa. The major ethnic groups that the enslaved Africans belonged to included the Hausa, Bakongo, Igbo, Mandé, Wolof, Akan, Fon, Yoruba, and Makua, among many others. Although these different groups varied in customs, religious theology and language, what they had in common was a way of life which was different from that of the Europeans. [4] Originally, a majority of the future slaves came from these villages and societies, however, once they were sent to the Americas and enslaved, these different peoples had European standards and beliefs forced upon them, causing them to do away with tribal differences and forge a new history and culture that was a creolization of their common past, present, and European culture . [5] Slaves who belonged to specific African ethnic groups were more sought after and became more dominant in numbers than slaves who belonged to other African ethnic groups in certain regions of what later became the United States.

Regions of Africa Edit

Studies of contemporary documents reveal seven regions from which Africans were sold or taken during the Atlantic slave trade. These regions were:

    , encompassing the coast from the Senegal River to the Casamance River, where captives as far away as the Upper and Middle Niger River Valley were sold
  • The Sierra Leone region included territory from the Casamance to the Assinie in the modern countries of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire
  • The Gold Coast region consisted of mainly modern Ghana
  • The Bight of Benin region stretched from the Volta River to the Benue River in modern Togo, Benin and southwestern Nigeria
  • The Bight of Biafra extended from southeastern Nigeria through Cameroon into Gabon
  • West Central Africa, the largest region, included the Congo and Angola and
  • East and Southeast Africa, the region of Mozambique-Madagascar included the modern countries of Mozambique, parts of Tanzania and Madagascar. [6]

The largest source of slaves transported across the Atlantic Ocean for the New World was West Africa. Some West Africans were skilled iron workers and were therefore able to make tools that aided in their agricultural labor. While there were many unique tribes with their own customs and religions, by the 10th century many of the tribes had embraced Islam. Those villages in West Africa that were lucky enough to be in good conditions for growth and success, prospered. They also contributed their success to the slave trade. [4]

Origins and percentages of African Americans imported into the Thirteen Colonies, French and Spanish Louisiana (1700–1820): [7]

Region Percentage
West Central Africa 26.1%
Bight of Biafra 24.4%
Sierra Leone 15.8%
Senegambia 14.5%
Gold Coast 13.1%
Bight of Benin 4.3%
Mozambique-Madagascar 1.8%
Total 100.0%

The Middle Passage Edit

Before the Atlantic slave trade there were already people of African descent in America. A few countries in Africa would buy, sell, and trade other enslaved Africans, who were often prisoners of war, with the Europeans. The people of Mali and Benin are known for partaking in the event of selling their prisoners of war and other unwanted people off as slaves. [4]

Transport Edit

In the account of Olaudah Equiano, he described the process of being transported to the colonies and being on the slave ships as a horrific experience. On the ships, the enslaved Africans were separated from their family long before they boarded the ships. [8] Once aboard the ships the captives were then segregated by gender. [8] Under the deck, the enslaved Africans were cramped and did not have enough space to walk around freely. Enslaved males were generally kept in the ship's hold, where they experienced the worst of crowding. [8] The captives stationed on the floor beneath low-lying bunks could barely move and spent much of the voyage pinned to the floorboards, which could, over time, wear the skin on their elbows down to the bone. [8] Due to the lack of basic hygiene, malnourishment, and dehydration diseases spread wildly and death was common.

The women on the ships often endured rape by the crewmen. [4] Women and children were often kept in rooms set apart from the main hold. This gave crewmen easy access to the women which was often regarded as one of the perks of the trade system. [8] Not only did these rooms give the crewmen easy access to women but it gave enslaved women better access to information on the ship's crew, fortifications, and daily routine, but little opportunity to communicate this to the men confined in the ship's hold. [8] As an example, women instigated a 1797 insurrection aboard the slave ship Thomas by stealing weapons and passing them to the men below as well as engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the ship's crew. [8]

In the midst of these terrible conditions, enslaved Africans plotted mutiny. Enslaved males were the most likely candidates to mutiny and only at times they were on deck. [8] While rebellions did not happen often, they were usually unsuccessful. In order for the crew members to keep the enslaved africans under control and prevent future rebellions, the crews were often twice as large and members would instill fear into the enslaved Africans through brutality and harsh punishments. [8] From the time of being captured in Africa to the arrival to the plantations of the European masters, took an average of six months. [4] Africans were completely cut off from their families, home, and community life. [9] They were forced to adjust to a new way of life.

Africans assisted the Spanish and the Portuguese during their early exploration of the Americas. In the 16th century some black explorers settled in the Mississippi valley and in the areas that became South Carolina and New Mexico. The most celebrated black explorer of the Americas was Estéban, who traveled through the Southwest in the 1530s. The uninterrupted history of black people in the United States began in 1619, when "twenty and odd" Africans were landed in the Virginia Colony. These individuals were not enslaved but indentured servants—persons bound to an employer for a limited number of years—as were many of the settlers of European descent (whites). By the 1660s large numbers of Africans were being brought to the Thirteen Colonies. In 1790 Black people numbered almost 760,000 and made up nearly one-fifth of the United States population.

In 1619, the first enslaved Africans were brought to Point Comfort on a Dutch slave ship, [10] today's Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, 30 miles downstream from Jamestown, Virginia. They were kidnapped by Portuguese slave traders. [11] The Virginian settlers treated these captives as indentured servants and released them after a number of years. This practice was gradually replaced by the system of chattel slavery used in the Caribbean. [12] As servants were freed, they became competition for resources. Additionally, released servants had to be replaced. [13]

This, combined with the still ambiguous nature of the social status of Black people and the difficulty in using any other group of people as forced servants, led to the relegation of Black people into slavery. Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery in 1641. Other colonies followed suit by passing laws that passed slavery on to the children of slaves and making non-Christian imported servants slaves for life. [13]

Africans first arrived in 1619, when a Dutch ship sold 19 black people to Virginian settlers at Point Comfort (today's Fort Monroe), thirty miles downstream from Jamestown, Virginia. In all, about 10–12 million Africans were transported to the Western Hemisphere. The vast majority of these people came from that stretch of the West African coast extending from present-day Senegal to Angola a small percentage came from Madagascar and East Africa. Only 5% (about 500,000) went to the American colonies. The vast majority went to the West Indies and Brazil, where they died quickly. Demographic conditions were highly favorable in the American colonies, with less disease, more food, some medical care, and lighter work loads than prevailed in the sugar fields. [14]

At first the Africans in the South were outnumbered by white indentured servants, who came voluntarily from Europe. They avoided the plantations. With the vast amount of good land and the shortage of laborers, plantation owners turned to lifetime enslavement of African peoples who worked for their keep but were not paid wages and could not easily escape. Enslaved Africans had some legal rights (it was a crime to kill an enslaved person, and a few whites were hanged for it.) Generally, enslaved Africans developed their own family system, religion, and customs in the slave quarters with little interference from owners, who were only interested in work outputs. Before the 1660s, the North American mainland colonies were expanding, but still fairly small in size and did not have a great demand for labour, so the colonists did not import large numbers of enslaved Africans at this point. [ citation needed ]

The Black population in the 1700s Edit

By 1700 there were 25,000 enslaved Black people in the North American mainland colonies, about 10% of the population. Some enslaved Black people had been directly shipped from Africa (most of them were from 1518 to the 1850s), but initially, in the very early stages of the European colonization of North America, occasionally they had been shipped via the West Indies in small cargoes after spending time working on the islands. [15] At the same time, many were native-born due to the fact that they were born on the North American mainland. Their legal status was now clear: they were enslaved for life and so were the children of enslaved mothers. As white colonizers began to claim and clear more land for large-scale farming and the building of plantations, the number of enslaved Africans who were directly imported from Africa began to rapidly increase from the 1660s to the 1700s and thereafter, since the trade in enslaved people who were coming in from the West Indies was much too small to meet the huge demand for the now fast-growing North American mainland slave market. Additionally, most North American buyers of enslaved people no longer wanted to purchase enslaved people who were coming in from the West Indies—by now they were either harder to obtain, too expensive, undesirable, or more often, they had been exhausted in many ways by the very brutal regime that existed on the island's sugar plantations. By the end of the seventeenth century, drastic changes in colonial tax laws, and the Crown's removal of monopolies that had earlier been granted to a very small number of slave-trading companies such as the Royal African Company, had made the direct slave trade with Africa much easier for other slave traders. As a result, freshly imported young, strong, and healthy Africans were now much more affordable, cheaper in price, and more readily available in large numbers to the North American slave buyers, who by now had preferred to purchase them—even if they were distraught for a while and needed time to adjust to a new life enslaved at a plantation. From about 1700 to 1859, the majority of enslaved people who were imported to the North American mainland came directly from Africa in huge cargoes that were much-needed in order to fill the massive spike in demand for the heavy labour required to work the continually expanding plantations in the Southern colonies (that later became part of the present-day United States), with most enslaved people heading to Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and French or Spanish Louisiana. [15] Unlike the colonies in the South, the Northern colonies developed into much more urbanized and industrialized societies, and they relied less on agriculture as the main source of survival and growth for the economy, so therefore, they did not import many enslaved Africans, and the Black population which lived there remained fairly low for a very long time. However, big Northern cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, had relatively large Black populations (both enslaved and free) for most of the colonial period and thereafter.

From the 1750s, American-born enslaved people of African descent already began to outnumber African-born enslaved people. By the time of the American Revolution, a few of the Northern states had begun to consider abolishing slavery. Some Southern states, such as Virginia, had produced such large and self-sustaining locally-born enslaved Black populations by the natural increase that they stopped taking indirect imports of enslaved Africans altogether. However, other Southern states, such as Georgia and South Carolina, still relied on constant, fresh supplies of enslaved people's labor to keep up with the demand for it, which accompanied their burgeoning plantation economies. These states continued to allow the direct importation of enslaved Africans until 1808, only stopping for a few years in the 1770s due to a temporary lull in the trade which was brought on by the American Revolutionary War. The continuing direct importation of enslaved Africans ensured that South Carolina's Black population remained very high for most of the eighteenth century, with Black people outnumbering whites three to one. In contrast, Virginia maintained a white majority despite its significant Black enslaved population. [16] It was said that in the eighteenth century, the colony South Carolina resembled an "extension of West Africa". All legal, direct importation of enslaved Africans had stopped by 1808, when the now, newly formed United States finally banned its citizens from participating in the international slave trade altogether by law. Despite the ban, small to moderate cargoes of enslaved Africans were occasionally and illegally shipped into the United States directly from Africa for many years, as late as 1859. [17]

Slowly a free Black population emerged, concentrated in port cities along the Atlantic coast from Charleston to Boston. Enslaved people who lived in the cities and towns had more privileges than enslaved people who did not, but the great majority of enslaved people lived on southern tobacco or rice plantations, usually in groups of 20 or more. [18] Wealthy plantation owners eventually became so reliant on slavery that they devastated their own lower class. [19] In the years to come, the institution of slavery would be so heavily involved in the South's economy that it would divide America.

The most serious slave rebellion was the 1739 Stono Uprising in South Carolina. The colony had about 56,000 enslaved people, who outnumbered whites two to one. About 150 enslaved people rose up, seizing guns and ammunition to kill twenty whites before heading for Spanish Florida. The local militia soon intercepted and killed most of the enslaved people involved in the uprising. [20]

At this time, slavery existed in all American colonies. In the North, 2% of people owned enslaved people, most of whom were personal servants. In the south, 25% of the population relied on the labour of enslaved people. Southern slavery usually took the form of field hands who lived and worked on plantations. [21] These statistics show the early imbalance that would eventually tip the scale and rid the United States of slavery. [22]

The later half of the 18th century was a time of political upheaval in the United States. In the midst of cries for independence from British rule, people pointed out the apparent hypocrisies of slave holders' demanding freedom. The Declaration of Independence, a document that would become a manifesto for human rights and personal freedom, was written by Thomas Jefferson, who owned over 200 enslaved people. Other Southern statesmen were also major slaveholders. The Second Continental Congress did consider freeing enslaved people to assist with the war effort. They removed language from the Declaration of Independence that included the promotion of slavery amongst the offenses of King George III. A number of free Black people, most notably Prince Hall—the founder of Prince Hall Freemasonry, submitted petitions for the end of slavery. But these petitions were largely ignored. [23]

This did not deter Black people, free and enslaved, from participating in the Revolution. Crispus Attucks, a free Black tradesman, was the first casualty of the Boston Massacre and of the ensuing American Revolutionary War. 5,000 Black people, including Prince Hall, fought in the Continental Army. Many fought side by side with White soldiers at the battles of Lexington and Concord and at Bunker Hill. But when George Washington took command in 1775, he barred any further recruitment of Black people. [ citation needed ]

Approximately 5000 free African-American men helped the American Colonists in their struggle for freedom. One of these men, Agrippa Hull, fought in the American Revolution for over six years. He and the other African-American soldiers fought in order to improve their white neighbor's views of them and advance their own fight of freedom. [24]

By contrast, the British and Loyalists offered emancipation to any enslaved person owned by a Patriot who was willing to join the Loyalist forces. Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, recruited 300 African-American men into his Ethiopian regiment within a month of making this proclamation. In South Carolina 25,000 enslaved people, more than one-quarter of the total, escaped to join and fight with the British, or fled for freedom in the uproar of war. Thousands of slaves also escaped in Georgia and Virginia, as well as New England and New York. Well-known African-Americans who fought for the British include Colonel Tye and Boston King. [ citation needed ]

The Americans eventually won the war. In the provisional treaty, they demanded the return of property, including enslaved people. Nonetheless, the British helped up to 3,000 documented African Americans to leave the country for Nova Scotia, Jamaica, and Britain rather than be returned to slavery. [25]

Thomas Peters was one of the large numbers of African Americans who fought for the British. Peters was born in present-day Nigeria and belonged to the Yoruba tribe, and ended up being captured and sold into slavery in French Louisiana. [26] Sold again, he was enslaved in North Carolina and escaped his master's farm in order to receive Lord Dunmore's promise of freedom. Peters had fought for the British throughout the war. When the war finally ended, he and other African Americans who fought on the losing side were taken to Nova Scotia. Here, they encountered difficulty farming the small plots of lands they were granted. They also did not receive the same privileges and opportunities as the white Loyalists had. Peters sailed to London in order to complain to the government. "He arrived at a momentous time when English abolitionists were pushing a bill through Parliament to charter the Sierra Leone Company and to grant it trading and settlement rights on the West African coast." Peters and the other African Americans on Nova Scotia left for Sierra Leone in 1792. Peters died soon after they arrived, but the other members of his party lived on in their new home. [27]

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 sought to define the foundation for the government of the newly formed United States of America. The constitution set forth the ideals of freedom and equality while providing for the continuation of the institution of slavery through the fugitive slave clause and the three-fifths compromise. Additionally, free Black people's rights were also restricted in many places. Most were denied the right to vote and were excluded from public schools. Some Black people sought to fight these contradictions in court. In 1780, Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker used language from the new Massachusetts constitution that declared all men were born free and equal in freedom suits to gain release from slavery. A free Black businessman in Boston named Paul Cuffe sought to be excused from paying taxes since he had no voting rights. [28]

In the Northern states, the revolutionary spirit did help African Americans. Beginning in the 1750s, there was widespread sentiment during the American Revolution that slavery was a social evil (for the country as a whole and for the whites) that should eventually be abolished. [ citation needed ] All the Northern states passed emancipation acts between 1780 and 1804 most of these arranged for gradual emancipation and a special status for freedmen, so there were still a dozen "permanent apprentices" into the 19th century. In 1787 Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance and barred slavery from the large Northwest Territory. [29] In 1790, there were more than 59,000 free Black people in the United States. By 1810, that number had risen to 186,446. Most of these were in the North, but Revolutionary sentiments also motivated Southern slaveholders.

For 20 years after the Revolution, more Southerners also freed enslaved people, sometimes by manumission or in wills to be accomplished after the slaveholder's death. In the Upper South, the percentage of free Black people rose from about 1% before the Revolution to more than 10% by 1810. Quakers and Moravians worked to persuade slaveholders to free families. In Virginia, the number of free Black people increased from 10,000 in 1790 to nearly 30,000 in 1810, but 95% of Black people were still enslaved. In Delaware, three-quarters of all Black people were free by 1810. [30] By 1860, just over 91% of Delaware's Black people were free, and 49.1% of those in Maryland. [31]

Among the successful free men was Benjamin Banneker, a Maryland astronomer, mathematician, almanac author, surveyor, and farmer, who in 1791 assisted in the initial survey of the boundaries of the future District of Columbia. [32] Despite the challenges of living in the new country, most free Black people fared far better than the nearly 800,000 enslaved Blacks. Even so, many considered emigrating to Africa. [28]

By 1800 a small number of slaves had joined Christian churches. Free Black people in the North set up their own networks of churches and in the South the slaves sat in the upper galleries of white churches. Central to the growth of community among blacks was the Black church, usually the first communal institution to be established. The Black church was both an expression of community and unique African-American spirituality, and a reaction to discrimination. The churches also served as neighborhood centers where free Black people could celebrate their African heritage without intrusion from white detractors. The church also served as the center of education. Since the church was part of the community and wanted to provide education it educated the freed and enslaved Black people. Seeking autonomy, some black people like Richard Allen (bishop) founded separate Black denominations. [33]

The Second Great Awakening (1800–1830s) has been called the "central and defining event in the development of Afro-Christianity." [34] [35]

As the United States grew, the institution of slavery became more entrenched in the southern states, while northern states began to abolish it. Pennsylvania was the first, in 1780 passing an act for gradual abolition. [36]

A number of events continued to shape views on slavery. One of these events was the Haitian Revolution, which was the only slave revolt that led to an independent country. Many slave owners fled to the United States with tales of horror and massacre that alarmed Southern whites. [37]

The invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s allowed the cultivation of short staple cotton, which could be grown in much of the Deep South, where warm weather and proper soil conditions prevailed. The industrial revolution in Europe and New England generated a heavy demand for cotton for cheap clothing, which caused an exponential demand for slave labor to develop new cotton plantations. There was a 70% increase in the number of slaves in the United States in only 20 years. They were overwhelmingly concentrated on plantations in the Deep South, and moved west as old cotton fields lost their productivity and new lands were purchased. Unlike the Northern States who put more focus into manufacturing and commerce, the South was heavily dependent on agriculture. [38] Southern political economists at this time supported the institution by concluding that nothing was inherently contradictory about owning slaves and that a future of slavery existed even if the South were to industrialize. [39] Racial, economic, and political turmoil reached an all-time high regarding slavery up to the events of the Civil War.

In 1807, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson, Congress abolished the importation of enslaved workers. While American Black people celebrated this as a victory in the fight against slavery, the ban increased the internal trade in enslaved people. Changing agricultural practices in the Upper South from tobacco to mixed farming decreased labor requirements, and enslaved people were sold to traders for the developing Deep South. In addition, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 allowed any Black person to be claimed as a runaway unless a White person testified on their behalf. A number of free Black people, especially indentured children, were kidnapped and sold into slavery with little or no hope of rescue. By 1819 there were exactly 11 free and 11 slave states, which increased sectionalism. Fears of an imbalance in Congress led to the 1820 Missouri Compromise that required states to be admitted to the union in pairs, one slave and one free. [40]

In 1850, after winning the Mexican-American War, a problem gripped the nation: what to do about the territories won from Mexico. Henry Clay, the man behind the compromise of 1820, once more rose to the challenge, to craft the compromise of 1850. In this compromise the territories of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada would be organized but the issue of slavery would be decided later. Washington D.C. would abolish the slave trade but not slavery itself. California would be admitted as a free state but the South would receive a new fugitive slave act which required Northerners to return enslaved people who escaped to the North to their owners. The compromise of 1850 would maintain a shaky peace until the election of Lincoln in 1860. [41]

In 1851 the battle between enslaved people and slave owners was met in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Christiana Riot demonstrated the growing conflict between states' rights and Congress on the issue of slavery. [42]

Abolitionism Edit

Abolitionists in Britain and the United States in the 1840–1860 period developed large, complex campaigns against slavery.

According to Patrick C. Kennicott, the largest and most effective abolitionist speakers were Black people who spoke before the countless local meetings of the National Negro Conventions. They used the traditional arguments against slavery, protesting it on moral, economic, and political grounds. Their role in the antislavery movement not only aided the abolitionist cause but also was a source of pride to the Black community. [43]

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published a novel that changed how many would view slavery. Uncle Tom's Cabin tells the story of the life of an enslaved person and the brutality that is faced by that life day after day. It would sell over 100,000 copies in its first year. The popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin would solidify the North in its opposition to slavery, and press forward the abolitionist movement. President Lincoln would later invite Stowe to the White House in honor of this book that changed America.

In 1856 Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts congressmen and antislavery leader, was assaulted and nearly killed on the House floor by Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Sumner had been delivering an abolitionist speech to Congress when Brooks attacked him. Brooks received praise in the South for his actions while Sumner became a political icon in the North. Sumner later returned to the Senate, where he was a leader of the Radical Republicans in ending slavery and legislating equal rights for freed slaves. [44]

Over 1 million enslaved people were moved from the older seaboard slave states, with their declining economies, to the rich cotton states of the southwest many others were sold and moved locally. [45] Ira Berlin (2000) argues that this Second Middle Passage shredded the planters' paternalist pretenses in the eyes of Black people and prodded enslaved people and free Black people to create a host of oppositional ideologies and institutions that better accounted for the realities of endless deportations, expulsions, and flights that continually remade their world. [46] Benjamin Quarles' work Black Abolitionists provides the most extensive account of the role of Black abolitionists in the American anti-slavery movement. [47]

The Black community Edit

[48] Black people generally settled in cities, creating the core of Black community life in the region. They established churches and fraternal orders. Many of these early efforts were weak and they often failed, but they represented the initial steps in the evolution of Black communities. [49]

During the early Antebellum period, the creation of free Black communities began to expand, laying out a foundation for African Americans' future. At first, only a few thousand African Americans had their freedom. As the years went by, the number of blacks being freed expanded tremendously, building to 233,000 by the 1820s. They sometimes sued to gain their freedom or purchased it. Some slave owners freed their bondspeople and a few state legislatures abolished slavery. [50]

African Americans tried to take the advantage of establishing homes and jobs in the cities. During the early 1800s free Black people took several steps to establish fulfilling work lives in urban areas. [51] The rise of industrialization, which depended on power-driven machinery more than human labor, might have afforded them employment, but many owners of textile mills refused to hire Black workers. These owners considered whites to be more reliable and educable. This resulted in many Black people performing unskilled labor. Black men worked as stevedores, construction worker, and as cellar-, well- and grave-diggers. As for Black women workers, they worked as servants for white families. Some women were also cooks, seamstresses, basket-makers, midwives, teachers, and nurses. [50] Black women worked as washerwomen or domestic servants for the white families. Some cities had independent Black seamstresses, cooks, basketmakers, confectioners, and more.

While the African Americans left the thought of slavery behind, they made a priority to reunite with their family and friends. The cause of the Revolutionary War forced many Black people to migrate to the west afterwards, and the scourge of poverty created much difficulty with housing. African Americans competed with the Irish and Germans in jobs and had to share space with them. [50]

While the majority of free Black people lived in poverty, some were able to establish successful businesses that catered to the Black community. Racial discrimination often meant that Black people were not welcome or would be mistreated in White businesses and other establishments. To counter this, Black people like James Forten developed their own communities with Black-owned businesses. Black doctors, lawyers, and other businessmen were the foundation of the Black middle class. [52]

Many Black people organized to help strengthen the Black community and continue the fight against slavery. One of these organizations was the American Society of Free Persons of Colour, founded in 1830. This organization provided social aid to poor Black people and organized responses to political issues. Further supporting the growth of the Black Community was the Black church, usually the first community institution to be established. Starting in the early 1800s [53] with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and other churches, the Black church grew to be the focal point of the Black community. The Black church was both an expression of community and unique African-American spirituality, and a reaction to European American discrimination. The church also served as neighborhood centers where free black people could celebrate their African heritage without intrusion by white detractors. [50] The church was the center of the Black communities, but it was also the center of education. Since the church was part of the community and wanted to provide education they educated the freed and enslaved Black people. [54] At first, Black preachers formed separate congregations within the existing denominations, such as social clubs or literary societies. Because of discrimination at the higher levels of the church hierarchy, some Black people like Richard Allen (bishop) simply founded separate Black denominations. [55]

Free Black people also established Black churches in the South before 1800. After the Great Awakening, many Black people joined the Baptist Church, which allowed for their participation, including roles as elders and preachers. For instance, First Baptist Church and Gillfield Baptist Church of Petersburg, Virginia, both had organized congregations by 1800 and were the first Baptist churches in the city. [56] Petersburg, an industrial city, by 1860 had 3,224 free Black people (36% of Black people, and about 26% of all free persons), the largest population in the South. [57] [58] In Virginia, free Black people also created communities in Richmond, Virginia and other towns, where they could work as artisans and create businesses. [59] Others were able to buy land and farm in frontier areas further from white control.

The Black community also established schools for Black children, since they were often banned from entering public schools. [60] Richard Allen organized the first Black Sunday school in America it was established in Philadelphia during 1795. [61] Then five years later, the priest Absalom Jones established a school for Black youth. [61] Black Americans regarded education as the surest path to economic success, moral improvement and personal happiness. Only the sons and daughters of the Black middle class had the luxury of studying. [50]

Haiti's effect on slavery Edit

The revolt of enslaved Hatians against their white slave owners, which began in 1791 and lasted until 1801, was a primary source of fuel for both enslaved people and abolitionists arguing for the freedom of Africans in the U.S. In the 1833 edition of Nile's Weekly Register it is stated that freed Black people in Haiti were better off than their Jamaican counterparts, and the positive effects of American Emancipation are alluded to throughout the paper. [62] These anti-slavery sentiments were popular among both white abolitionists and African-American slaves. Enslaved people rallied around these ideas with rebellions against their masters as well as white bystanders during the Denmark Vesey Conspiracy of 1822 and the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831. Leaders and plantation owners were also very concerned about the consequences Haiti's revolution would have on early America. Thomas Jefferson, for one, was wary of the "instability of the West Indies", referring to Haiti. [63]

The Dred Scott decision Edit

Dred Scott was an enslaved person whose owner had taken him to live in the free state of Illinois. After his owner's death, Dred Scott sued in court for his freedom on the basis of his having lived in a free state for a long period. The Black community received an enormous shock with the Supreme Court's "Dred Scott" decision in March 1857. [65] Black people were not American citizens and could never be citizens, the court said in a decision roundly denounced by the Republican Party as well as the abolitionists. Because enslaved people were "property, not people", by this ruling they could not sue in court. The decision was finally reversed by the Civil Rights Act of 1865. [66] In what is sometimes considered mere obiter dictum the Court went on to hold that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories because enslaved people are personal property and the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects property owners against deprivation of their property without due process of law. Although the Supreme Court has never explicitly overruled the Dred Scott case, the Court stated in the Slaughter-House Cases that at least one part of it had already been overruled by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, which begins by stating, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." [67]

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. In a single stroke it changed the legal status, as recognized by the U.S. government, of 3 million enslaved people in designated areas of the Confederacy from "slave" to "free." It had the practical effect that as soon as an enslaved person escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the enslaved person became legally and actually free. The owners were never compensated. Plantation owners, realizing that emancipation would destroy their economic system, sometimes moved their enslaved people as far as possible out of reach of the Union army. By June 1865, the Union Army controlled all of the Confederacy and liberated all of the designated enslaved people. [68]

About 200,000 free Black people and former enslaved people served in the Union Army and Navy, thus providing a basis for a claim to full citizenship. [69] The severe dislocations of war and Reconstruction had a severe negative impact on the Black population, with a large amount of sickness and death. [70]

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 made Black people full U.S. citizens (and this repealed the Dred Scott decision). In 1868, the 14th amendment granted full U.S. citizenship to African-Americans. The 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, extended the right to vote to Black males. The Freedmen's Bureau was an important institution established to create social and economic order in southern states. [4]

After the Union victory over the Confederacy, a brief period of Southern Black progress, called Reconstruction, followed. During the Reconstruction the entire face of the South changed because the remaining states were readmitted into the Union. [71] From 1865 to 1877, under protection of Union troops, some strides were made toward equal rights for African-Americans. Southern Black men began to vote and were elected to the United States Congress and to local offices such as sheriff. The safety provided by the troops did not last long, and white Southerners frequently terrorized Black voters. Coalitions of white and Black Republicans passed bills to establish the first public school systems in most states of the South, although sufficient funding was hard to find. Black people established their own churches, towns, and businesses. Tens of thousands migrated to Mississippi for the chance to clear and own their own land, as 90% of the bottomlands were undeveloped. By the end of the 19th century, two-thirds of the farmers who owned land in the Mississippi Delta bottomlands were Black. [72]

Hiram Revels became the first African-American senator in the U.S. Congress in 1870. Other African Americans soon came to Congress from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. These new politicians supported the Republicans and tried to bring further improvements to the lives of African Americans. Revels and others understood that white people may have felt threatened by the African-American congressmen. Revels stated, "The white race has no better friend than I. I am true to my own race. I wish to see all done that can be done. to assist [Black men]in acquiring property, in becoming intelligent, enlightened citizens. but at the same time, I would not have anything done which would harm the white race," [73] Blanche K. Bruce was the other African American who became a U.S. senator during this period. African Americans elected to the House of Representatives during this time included Benjamin S. Turner, Josiah T. Walls, Joseph H. Rainey, Robert Brown Elliot, Robert D. De Large, and Jefferson H. Long. Frederick Douglass also served in the different government jobs during Reconstruction, including Minister Resident and Counsel General to Haiti, Recorder of Deeds, and U.S. Marshall. [74] Bruce became a Senator in 1874 and represented the state of Mississippi. He worked with white politicians from his region in order to hopefully help his fellow African Americans and other minority groups such as Chinese immigrants and Native Americans. He even supported efforts to end restrictions on former Confederates' political participation. [73]

The aftermath of the Civil War accelerated the process of a national African-American identity formation. [75] Some civil rights activists, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, disagree that identity was achieved after the Civil War. [76] African Americans in the post-civil war era were faced with many rules and regulations that, even though they were "free", prevented them from living with the same amount of freedom as white citizens had. [77] Tens of thousands of Black northerners left homes and careers and also migrated to the defeated South, building schools, printing newspapers, and opening businesses. As Joel Williamson puts it:

Many of the migrants, women as well as men, came as teachers sponsored by a dozen or so benevolent societies, arriving in the still turbulent wake of Union armies. Others came to organize relief for the refugees. Still others. came south as religious missionaries. Some came south as business or professional people seeking opportunity on this. special black frontier. Finally, thousands came as soldiers, and when the war was over, many of [their] young men remained there or returned after a stay of some months in the North to complete their education. [78]

The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for Black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. [79]

In the face of years of mounting violence and intimidation directed at blacks as well as whites sympathetic to their cause, the U.S. government retreated from its pledge to guarantee constitutional protections to freedmen and women. When President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew Union troops from the South in 1877 as a result of a national compromise on the election, Black people lost most of their political power. Men like Benjamin "Pap" Singleton began speaking of leaving the South. This idea culminated in the 1879–80 movement of the Exodusters, who migrated to Kansas, where blacks had much more freedom and it was easier to acquire land. [80]

When Democrats took control of Tennessee in 1888, they passed laws making voter registration more complicated and ended the most competitive political state in the South. Voting by Black people in rural areas and small towns dropped sharply, as did voting by poor whites. [81] [82]

From 1890 to 1908, starting with Mississippi and ending with Georgia, ten of eleven Southern states adopted new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised most black people and many poor whites. Using a combination of provisions such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests, states dramatically decreased Black voter registration and turnout, in some cases to zero. [83] The grandfather clause was used in many states temporarily to exempt illiterate white voters from literacy tests. As power became concentrated under the Democratic Party in the South, the party positioned itself as a private club and instituted white primaries, closing Black people out of the only competitive contests. By 1910 one-party white rule was firmly established across the South.

Although African Americans quickly started litigation to challenge such provisions, early court decisions at the state and national level went against them. In Williams v. Mississippi (1898), the US Supreme Court upheld state provisions. This encouraged other Southern states to adopt similar measures over the next few years, as noted above. Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee Institute secretly worked with Northern supporters to raise funds and provide representation for African Americans in additional cases, such as Giles v. Harris (1903) and Giles v. Teasley (1904), but again the Supreme Court upheld the states. [83]

Segregation for the first time became a standard legal process in the South it was informal in Northern cities. Jim Crow limited black access to transportation, schools, restaurants and other public facilities. Most southern blacks for decades continued to struggle in grinding poverty as agricultural, domestic and menial laborers. Many became sharecroppers, sharing the crop with the white land owners..

Racial terrorism Edit

In 1865, the Ku Klux Klan, a secret white supremacist criminal organization dedicated to destroying the Republican Party in the South, especially by terrorizing Black leaders, was formed. Klansmen hid behind masks and robes to hide their identity while they carried out violence and property damage. The Klan used terrorism, especially murder and threats of murder, arson and intimidation. The Klan's excesses led to the passage of legislation against it, and with Federal enforcement, it was destroyed by 1871. [84]

The anti-Republican and anti-freedmen sentiment only briefly went underground, as violence arose in other incidents, especially after Louisiana's disputed state election in 1872, which contributed to the Colfax and Coushatta massacres in Louisiana in 1873 and 1874. Tensions and rumors were high in many parts of the South. When violence erupted, African Americans consistently were killed at a much higher rate than were European Americans. Historians of the 20th century have renamed events long called "riots" in southern history. The common stories featured whites heroically saving the community from marauding Black people. Upon examination of the evidence, historians have called numerous such events "massacres", as at Colfax, because of the disproportionate number of fatalities for Black people as opposed to whites. The mob violence there resulted in 40–50 Black people dead for each of the three whites killed. [85]

While not as widely known as the Klan, the paramilitary organizations that arose in the South during the mid-1870s as the white Democrats mounted a stronger insurgency, were more directed and effective than the Klan in challenging Republican governments, suppressing the Black vote and achieving political goals. Unlike the Klan, paramilitary members operated openly, often solicited newspaper coverage, and had distinct political goals: to turn Republicans out of office and suppress or dissuade Black voting in order to regain power in 1876. Groups included the White League, that started from white militias in Grant Parish, Louisiana, in 1874 and spread in the Deep South the Red Shirts, that started in Mississippi in 1875 but had chapters arise and was prominent in the 1876 election campaign in South Carolina, as well as in North Carolina and other White Line organizations such as rifle clubs. [86]

The Jim Crow era accompanied the most cruel wave of "racial" suppression that America has yet experienced. Between 1890 and 1940, millions of African Americans were disenfranchised, killed, and brutalized. According to newspaper records kept at the Tuskegee Institute, about 5,000 men, women, and children were murdered in documented extrajudicial mob violence—called "lynchings." The journalist Ida B. Wells estimated that lynchings not reported by the newspapers, plus similar executions under the veneer of "due process", may have amounted to about 20,000 killings. [87]

Of the tens of thousands of lynchers and onlookers during this period, it is reported that fewer than 50 whites were ever indicted for their crimes, and only four were sentenced. Because Black people were disenfranchised, they could not sit on juries or have any part in the political process, including local offices. Meanwhile, the lynchings were used as a weapon of terror to keep millions of African-Americans living in a constant state of anxiety and fear. [88] Most Black people were denied their right to keep and bear arms under Jim Crow laws, and they were therefore unable to protect themselves or their families. [89]

In response to these and other setbacks, in the summer of 1905, W. E. B. Du Bois and 28 other prominent, African-American men met secretly at Niagara Falls, Ontario. There, they produced a manifesto calling for an end to racial discrimination, full civil liberties for African Americans and recognition of human brotherhood. The organization they established came to be called the Niagara Movement. After the notorious Springfield, Illinois race riot of 1908, a group of concerned Whites joined with the leadership of the Niagara Movement and formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) a year later, in 1909. Under the leadership of Du Bois, the NAACP mounted legal challenges to segregation and lobbied legislatures on behalf of Black Americans.

While the NAACP use the court system to promote equality, at the local level African Americans adopted a self-help strategy. They pooled their resources to create independent community and institutional lives for themselves. They established schools, churches, social welfare institutions, banks, African-American newspapers and small businesses to serve the needs of their communities. [90] The main organizer of national and local self-help organizations was Alabama educator Booker T. Washington. [91]

Progressive Era reformers were often concerned with the Black condition. In 1908 after the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot got him involved, Ray Stannard Baker published the book Following the Color Line: An Account of Negro Citizenship in the American Democracy, becoming the first prominent journalist to examine America's racial divide it was extremely successful. Sociologist Rupert Vance says it is:

the best account of race relations in the South during the period—one that reads like field notes for the future historian. This account was written during the zenith of Washingtonian movement and shows the optimism that it inspired among both liberals and moderates. The book is also notable for its realistic accounts of Negro town life. [92]

During the first half of the 20th century, the largest internal population shift in U.S. history took place. Starting about 1910, through the Great Migration over five million African Americans made choices and "voted with their feet" by moving from the South to northern and western cities in hopes of escaping political discrimination and hatred, violence, finding better jobs, voting and enjoying greater equality and education for their children. [93]

In the 1920s, the concentration of Black people in New York led to the cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, whose influence reached nationwide. Black intellectual and cultural circles were influenced by thinkers such as Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor, who celebrated blackness, or négritude and arts and letters flourished. Writers Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay and Richard Wright and artists Lois Mailou Jones, William H. Johnson, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Archibald Motley gained prominence. [94]

The South Side of Chicago, a destination for many on the trains up from Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, joined Harlem as a sort of Black capital for the nation. It generated flourishing businesses, music, arts and foods. A new generation of powerful African-American political leaders and organizations also came to the fore, Typified by Congressman William Dawson (1886–1970). Membership in the NAACP rapidly increased as it mounted an anti-lynching campaign in reaction to ongoing southern white violence against blacks. Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, the Nation of Islam, and union organizer A. Philip Randolph's Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (part of the American Federation of labor) all were established during this period and found support among African Americans, who became urbanized. [95]

Businesses operated at the local level, and included beauty shops, barber shops, funeral parlors and the like. Booker T. Washington organized them nationally into the National Negro Business League. [96] The more ambitious Black businessman with a larger vision avoided small towns and rural areas and headed to progressive large cities. [97] They sent their children to elite Black colleges such as Howard, Spellman, and Morehouse by the 1970s they were accepted in more than token numbers at national schools such as the Ivy League. Graduates were hired by major national corporations. They were active in the Urban League, the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP, and were much more likely to be Episcopalians than Baptists. [98] [99] [100]

Women in the beauty business Edit

Although most prominent African-American businesses have been owned by men, women played a major role especially in the area of beauty. Standards of beauty were different for whites and Black people, and the Black community developed its own standards, with an emphasis on hair care. Beauticians could work out of their own homes, and did not need storefronts. As a result, Black beauticians were numerous in the rural South, despite the absence of cities and towns. They pioneered the use of cosmetics, at a time when rural white women in the South avoided them. As Blain Roberts has shown, beauticians offered their clients a space to feel pampered and beautiful in the context of their own community because, "Inside Black beauty shops, rituals of beautification converged with rituals of socialization." Beauty contests emerged in the 1920s, and in the white community they were linked to agricultural county fairs. By contrast in the Black community, beauty contests were developed out of the homecoming ceremonies at their high schools and colleges. [101] [102] The most famous entrepreneur was Madame C. J. Walker (1867–1919) she built a national franchise business called Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company based on her invention of the first successful hair straightening process. [103]

Soldiers Edit

The U.S. armed forces remained segregated during World War I. Still, many African Americans eagerly volunteered to join the Allied cause following America's entry into the war. More than two million African American men rushed to register for the draft. By the time of the armistice with Germany in November 1918, over 350,000 African Americans had served with the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.[1] [104] [105] [106]

Most African American units were relegated to support roles and did not see combat. Still, African Americans played a significant role in America's war effort. Four African American regiments were integrated into French units because the French suffered heavy losses and badly needed men after three years of a terrible war. One of the most distinguished units was the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Harlem Hellfighters", which was on the front lines for six months, longer than any other American unit in the war. 171 members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Merit. [ citation needed ]

From May 1918 to November 1918, the 371st and 372nd African American Regiments were integrated under the 157th Red Hand Division [107] commanded by the French General Mariano Goybet. They earned glory in the decisive final offensive in Champagne region of France. The two Regiments were decorated by the French Croix de Guerre for their gallantry in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. [ citation needed ]

Corporal Freddie Stowers of the 371st Infantry Regiment was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor—the only African American to be so honored for actions in World War I. During action in France, Stowers had led an assault on German trenches, continuing to lead and encourage his men even after being wounded twice. Stowers died from his wounds, but his men continued the fight on a German machine gun nest near Bussy farm in Champagne, and eventually defeated the German troops. [ citation needed ]

Stowers was recommended for the Medal of Honor shortly after his death, but according to the Army, the nomination was misplaced. Many believed the recommendation had been intentionally ignored due to institutional racism in the Armed Forces. In 1990, under pressure from Congress, the Defense Department launched an investigation. Based on findings from this investigation, the Army Decorations Board approved the award of the Medal of Honor to Stowers. On April 24, 1991—73 years after he was killed in action—Stowers' two surviving sisters received the Medal of Honor from President George H. W. Bush at the White House. [ citation needed ]

Home front and postwar Edit

With an enormous demand for expansion of the defense industries, the new draft law in effect, and the cut off of immigration from Europe, demand was very high for underemployed farmers from the South. Hundreds of thousands of African-Americans took the trains to Northern industrial centers in a dramatic historical event known as the Great Migration. Migrants going to Pittsburgh and surrounding mill towns in western Pennsylvania between 1890 and 1930 faced racial discrimination and limited economic opportunities. The Black population in Pittsburgh jumped from 6,000 in 1880 to 27,000 in 1910. Many took highly paid, skilled jobs in the steel mills. Pittsburgh's Black population increased to 37,700 in 1920 (6.4% of the total) while the Black element in Homestead, Rankin, Braddock, and others nearly doubled. They succeeded in building effective community responses that enabled the survival of new communities. [108] [109] Historian Joe Trotter explains the decision process:

Although African-Americans often expressed their views of the Great Migration in biblical terms and received encouragement from northern black newspapers, railroad companies, and industrial labor agents, they also drew upon family and friendship networks to help in the move to Western Pennsylvania. They formed migration clubs, pooled their money, bought tickets at reduced rates, and often moved ingroups. Before they made the decision to move, they gathered information and debated the pros and cons of the process. In barbershops, poolrooms, and grocery stores, in churches, lodge halls, and clubhouses, and in private homes, southern blacks discussed, debated, and decided what was good and what was bad about moving to the urban North. [110]

After the war ended and the soldiers returned home, tensions were very high, with serious labor union strikes and inter-racial riots in major cities. The summer of 1919 was known as the Red Summer with outbreaks of racial violence killing about 1,000 people across the nation, most of whom were Black. [111] [112]

Nevertheless, the newly established Black communities in the North nearly all endured. Joe Trotter explains how the Blacks built new institutions for their new communities in the Pittsburgh area:

Black churches, fraternal orders, and newspapers (especially the Pittsburgh Courier) organizations such as the NAACP, Urban League, and Garvey Movement social clubs, restaurants, and baseball teams hotels, beauty shops, barber shops, and taverns, all proliferated. [113]

The Great Depression hit Black America hard. In 1930, it was reported that 4 out of 5 Black people lived in the South, the average life expectancy for Black people was 15 years less than whites, and the Black infant mortality rate at 12% was double that of whites. [114] In Chicago, Black people made up 4% of the population and 16% of the unemployed while in Pittsburgh blacks were 8% of the population and 40% of the unemployed. [115] In January 1934, the journalist Lorena Hickok reported from rural Georgia that she had seen "half-starved Whites and Blacks struggle in competition for less to eat than my dog gets at home, for the privilege of living in huts that are infinitely less comfortable than his kennel". [116] She also described most Southern Black people who made worked as sharecroppers as living under a system very close to slavery. [116] A visiting British journalist wrote she "had traveled over most of Europe and part of Africa, but I have never seen such terrible sights as I saw yesterday among the sharecroppers of Arkansas". [117]

The New Deal did not have a specific program for Black people only, but it sought to incorporate them in all the relief programs that it began. [118] [119] The most important relief agencies were the CCC for young men (who worked in segregated units), the FERA relief programs in 1933–35 (run by local towns and cities), and especially the WPA, which employed 2,000,000 or more workers nationwide under federal control, 1935–42. All races had had the same wage rates and working conditions in the WPA. [120]

A rival federal agency was the Public Works Administration (PWA), headed by long-time civil rights activist Harold Ickes. It set quotas for private firms hiring skilled and unskilled Black people in construction projects financed through the PWA, overcoming the objections of labor unions. In this way, the New Deal ensured that blacks were 13% of the unskilled PWA jobs in Chicago, 60% in Philadelphia and 71% in Jacksonville, Florida their share of the skilled jobs was 4%, 6%, and 17%, respectively. [121] In the Department of Agriculture, there was a lengthy bureaucratic struggle in 1933–35 between one faction which favored rising prices for farmers vs. another faction which favored reforms to assist sharecroppers, especially Black ones. When one Agriculture Department official, Alger Hiss, in early 1935 wrote up a directive to ensure that Southern landlords were paying sharecroppers for their labor (which most of them did not), Senator Ellison D. Smith stormed into his office and shouted: "Young fella, you can't do this to my niggers, paying checks to them". [122] The Agriculture Secretary, Henry A. Wallace, sided with Smith and agreed to cancel the directive. [123] As it turned out, the most effective way for Black sharecroppers to escape a life of poverty in the South was to move to the North or California.

An immediate response was a shift in the Black vote in Northern cities from the GOP to the Democrats (blacks seldom voted in the South.) [124] In Southern states where few Black people voted, Black leaders seized the opportunity to work inside the new federal agencies as social workers and administrators, with an eye to preparing a new generation who would become leaders of grass-roots constituencies that could be mobilized at some future date for civil rights. [125] President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed the first federal black judge, William H. Hastie, and created an unofficial "black cabinet" led by Mary McLeod Bethune to advise him. [126] Roosevelt ordered that federal agencies such as the CCC, WPA and PWA were not to discriminate against Black Americans. [126] The president's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt (who was a close friend of Bethune's), was notably sympathetic towards African-Americans and constantly in private urged her husband to do more to try help Black Americans. [126] The fact that the Civil Works Administration paid the same wages to Black workers as white workers sparked much resentment in the South and as early as 1933 conservative Southern politicians who claiming that federal relief payments were causing Black people to move to the cities to become a "permanent welfare class". [127] Studies showed that Black people were twice likely to be unemployed as whites, and one-fifth of all people receiving federal relief payments were Black, which was double their share of the population. [128]

In Chicago the Black community had been a stronghold of the Republican machine, but in the Great Depression the machine fell apart. Voters and leaders moved en masse into the Democratic Party as the New Deal offered relief programs and the city Democratic machine offered suitable positions in the Democratic Party for leaders such as William Dawson, who went to Congress. [129]

Militants demanded a federal anti-lynching bill, but President Roosevelt knew it would never pass Congress but would split his New Deal coalition. [130] Because conservative white Southerners tended to vote as a bloc for the Democratic Party with all of the Senators and Congressmen from the South in the 1930s being Democrats, this tended to pull the national Democratic Party to the right on many issues while Southern politicians formed a powerful bloc in Congress. [131] When a Black minister, Marshall L. Shepard, delivered the opening prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 1936, Senator Ellison D. Smith stormed out, screaming: "This mongrel meeting ain't no place for a white man!" [131] Though Smith's reaction was extreme, other Democratic politicians from the South made it clear to Roosevelt that they were very displeased. In the 1936 election, African-Americans who could vote overwhelmingly did so for Roosevelt, marking the first time that a Democratic candidate for president had won the Black vote. [132]

In November 1936, the American duo Buck and Bubbles became the first Black people to appear on television, albeit on a British television channel. [133]

In April 1937, Congressman Earl C. Michener read out on the floor of the House of Representatives an account of the lynching of Roosevelt Townes and Robert McDaniels in Duck Hill, Mississippi on 13 April 1937, describing in much detail how a white mob tied two Black men to a tree, tortured them with blowtorches, and finally killed them. [134] Michener introduced an anti-lynching bill that passed the House, but which was stopped in the Senate as Southern senators filibustered the bill until it was withdrawn on 21 February 1938. [135] Both civil rights leaders and the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, pressed President Roosevelt to support the anti-lynching bill, but his support was half-hearted at best. [136] Roosevelt told Walter Francis White of the NAACP that he personally supported the anti-lynching bill, but that: "I did not choose the tools with which I must work. Had I been permitted to choose them I would have selected quite different ones. But I've got to get legislation passed to save America. The Southerners by reason of the seniority rule in Congress are chairmen or occupy strategic places on most of the Senate and House committees. If I came out for the antilynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can't take the risk". [136]

Through Roosevelt was sympathetic, and his wife even more so towards the plight of African-Americans, but the power of the Southern Democratic bloc in Congress, whom he did not wish to take on, limited his options. [136] Through not explicitly designed to assist Black Americans, Roosevelt supported the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which imposed a national minimum wage of 40 cents per hour and a forty-hour work week while banning child labor, which was intended to assist poorer Americans. [137] The Southern congressional bloc were vehemently opposed to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which they saw as an attack on the entire Southern way of life, which was based upon extremely low wages (for example the minimum wage was 50 cents per day in South Carolina), and caused some of them to break with Roosevelt. [138] In 1938, Roosevelt campaigned in the Democratic primaries to defeat three conservative Southern Democratic senators, Walter F. George, Millard Tydings and Ellison "Cotton Ed" Smith, whom were all returned. [139] Later in 1938, the conservative Southern Democrats allied themselves with conservative Republicans, forming an alliance in Congress which sharply limited Roosevelt's ability to pass liberal legislation. [140]

After Congress passed the Selective Service Act in September 1940 establishing the draft, A. Philip Randolph, the president of all black Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union had his union issue a resolution calling for the government to desegregate the military. [141] As the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had attended the meeting of the brotherhood that passed the resolution, it was widely believed that the president was supportive. [141] Randolph subsequently visited the White House on 27 September 1940, where President Roosevelt seemed to be equally sympathetic. [142] Randolph felt very betrayed where he learned the military was to remain segregated after all despite the president's warm words. [143] Roosevelt had begun a program of rearmament, and feeling the president was not to be trusted, Randolph formed the March on Washington Movement, announcing plans for a huge civil rights march in Washington DC that would demand desegregation of the military and the factories in the defense industry on 1 July 1941. [143]

In June 1941 as the deadline for the march approached, Roosevelt asked for it to be cancelled, saying that 100, 000 Black people demonstrating in Washington would create problems for him. [143] On 18 June 1941, Randolph met with Roosevelt with the mayor of New York, Fiorello H. La Guardia serving as a mediator, where in a compromise it was agreed that the march would be cancelled in exchange for Executive Order 8802, which banned discrimination in factories making weapons for the military. [144] In 1941, the Roosevelt administration, through officially neutral, was leaning in very Allied direction with the United States providing weapons to Great Britain and China (to be joined by the Soviet Union after 22 June 1941), and the president needed the co-operation of Congress as much possible, where isolationist voices were frequently heard. Roosevelt argued to Randolph that he could not antagonize the powerful bloc of conservative Southern Democrats in Congress, and desegregation of the military was out of the question as the Southern Democrats would never accept it by contrast, as La Guardia pointed out, most of the factories in the defense industry were located in California, the Midwest and the Northeast. [144]

Cotton Edit

The largest group of Black people worked in the cotton farms of the Deep South as sharecroppers or tenant farmers a few owned their farms. Large numbers of whites also were tenant farmers and sharecroppers. Tenant farming characterized the cotton and tobacco production in the post-Civil War South. As the agricultural economy plummeted in the early 1930s, all farmers in all parts of the nation were badly hurt. Worst hurt were the tenant farmers (who had relatively more control) and sharecroppers (who had less control), as well as daily laborers (mostly Black, with least control). [145]

The problem was very low prices for farm products and the New Deal solution was to raise them by cutting production. It accomplished this in the South by the AAA, which gave landowners acreage reduction contracts, by which they were paid to not grow cotton or tobacco on a portion of their land. By law, they were required to pay the tenant farmers and sharecroppers on their land a portion of the money, but some cheated on this provision, hurting their tenants and croppers. The farm wage workers who worked directly for the landowner were mostly the ones who lost their jobs. For most tenants and sharecroppers the AAA was a major help. Researchers at the time concluded, "To the extent that the AAA control-program has been responsible for the increased price [of cotton], we conclude that it has increased the amount of goods and services consumed by the cotton tenants and croppers." Furthermore, the landowners typically let their tenants and croppers use the land taken out of production for their own personal use in growing food and feed crops, which further increased their standard of living. Another consequence was that the historic high levels of turnover from year to year declined sharply, as tenants and coppers tend to stay with the same landowner. Researchers concluded, "As a rule, planters seem to prefer Negroes to whites as tenants and coppers." [146]

Once mechanization came to cotton (after 1945), the tenants and sharecroppers were largely surplus they moved to towns and cities.

Modern safeguards against voter intimidation, electioneering, and fraud

Today each state restricts electioneering in the vicinity of active polling places, and state and federal statutes prohibit voter intimidation and election malfeasance, which come with harsh criminal penalties and the possibility of up to five years of imprisonment.

Voters who speak languages other than English were once duped by deceptive ballots handed out by rival political parties. Now voting materials are available in a variety of languages. Voting systems are tested and certified before elections, and election workers are trained in everything from cybersecurity to chain of custody rules that require them to log the movements of all ballots and election equipment.

"Voter fraud is sufficiently rare that it simply could not and does not happen at the rate even approaching that which would be required to 'rig' an election," writes the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. In a 2007 analysis of the returns from states where fraud was alleged in the 2000 and 2004 elections, the Brennan Center found incident rates of between .0003 and .0025 percent—meaning a voter had a higher likelihood of being struck by lightning (or a car on the way to the polling place). Instances of double voting, ballots cast by ineligible voters, or registrations with flawed addresses did exist, though they were rare and most of the alleged “fraud” came down to human error.

While voter fraud is no longer widely used as a means to suppress the vote as it was in the Jim Crow South, it is now sometimes used as justification for laws that effectively bar some from the polls.

“Instead of inflating the vote by stuffing the ballot box or having people vote repeatedly,” says Hansen, “you [keep] your opponent away from the polls.”

Voter ID laws, which have been around since 1950 but gained steam in this century, are often invoked as an example. In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a provision of the Voting Rights Act that gave the federal government oversight over new voting laws in areas with histories of voter discrimination. Five years after the decision, a nonpartisan federal commission found that at least 23 states had enacted "newly restrictive statewide voter laws.” Most involved voter ID requirements, which proponents say protect against fraud but studies show reduces turnout. A 2006 Brennan Center survey found that up to 11 percent of American voters lack IDs, and the fees, logistics and travel involved in obtaining one can deter some voters. (How the Voting Rights Act was why—and why it's under fire today.)

The laws can have a disproportionate impact on voters of color this year, one study found that strict photo ID laws suppressed voter turnout in racially diverse counties, as compared to predominantly white ones nationwide. As of April 2020, reports Ballotpedia, 34 states enforced or were on track to enforce voter identification requirements.

How much would votes sell for in early America? - History

The Church of England in Early America

Christine Leigh Heyrman
Department of History, University of Delaware
©National Humanities Center

Anglican missionaries
are greeted by Native
Americans on this
bookplate from the
Anglican Society for the
Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts,
which also strove to
convert New England
Puritans. The banner
translates roughly as
&ldquoI go overseas to
give help&rdquo

Courtesy Billy Graham
Center Museum Although the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church, and, today, as the Protestant Episcopal Church) commanded the loyalties of a great many churchgoers in early America, its history has received relatively little treatment from historians&mdashespecially compared with the attention lavished on the Puritans. True, the Church of England in the colonies suffered from a sluggish rate of growth and a shortage of clergymen throughout much of the seventeenth century. But in the century before the American Revolution, that communion&rsquos fortunes prospered: Anglican churches spread along the length of the Atlantic seaboard, the largest concentration being in the coastal South. In these colonies, Anglicanism also enjoyed the advantage of being the established, state-supported church, as it had been in England since the sixteenth century.

The founder of the Church of England was Henry VIII, who broke with the Roman Catholic Church when the pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry aimed merely to supplant the pope as the head of the English church&mdashnot to remodel it along the lines approved by Protestant reformers. But under his Protestant successors, especially Elizabeth I, that was what happened&mdashalthough not at all to the extent desired by English Puritans like the Presbyterians and Congregationalists. Indeed, the Church of England continued to bear a close resemblance the Roman Catholic Church, as it does down to the present.

Like Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism is, historically, a liturgical religious tradition, meaning that great emphasis is placed on observing a formal devotional regimen&mdashthe celebration of saints&rsquo days and other holy days, the performance of elaborate, dramatic ceremonies, the conduct of worship by reciting set prayers&mdashall accompanied by sublime organ music and choral singing and led by priests wearing vestments. And, like Roman Catholics, Anglicans have always favored elegantly constructed churches with ornately decorated interiors. The purpose of all this outward show is to instill those attending worship with a sense of awe and piety. Finally, like Roman Catholics, most (if not all) Anglicans reject Calvinism, with its emphasis on predestination and conversion, and the evangelical ethos often associated with that theology. Anglicans instead stress the capacity of humankind, enlightened by reason, to earn salvation by leading upright, moral lives.

The Church of England also retains Roman Catholicism&rsquos hierarchical form of government: rule of its churches today rests in ascending bodies of clergy, headed by bishops and archbishops. This mode of organization also prevailed in early modern Britain, but the American colonies, lacking a bishop, entrusted enormous authority to local church vestries composed of the most eminent laymen. This was especially true in the South, which led to frequent contests for control and influence between parsons and the vestry.

Guiding Student Discussion

So what your students really need to know is that there was more than one distinctive form of Protestantism in early America: put simply, not every colonial was a Puritan. On the contrary, there were many diverse groups of Protestants within the white population&mdashCongregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Dutch Reformed as well as Anglicans, Quakers, and Lutherans, to mention only the most numerous. But, in historical terms, the MOST IMPORTANT (because they were the largest and most influential communions) were the Anglicans on the one hand and, on the other, the heirs of the Reformed tradition (i.e., Calvinists like the Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, and a host of German &ldquopietist sects&rdquo like the Moravians).

The division between these two groups marked the GREAT DIVIDE in the religious life of most white colonials. The culture of Reformed groups&mdashthe simplicity of their church structures, the emphasis upon the sermon rather than formal rituals and set prayers&mdashcontrasted sharply with that of Anglicanism.

Important as these points are, there is an even more telling contrast. While many Reformed churches embraced an evangelical ethos, especially in the mid-eighteenth century as the Great Awakening spread throughout British North America (and revivals simultaneously swept Protestant Europe), most Anglicans (the Methodists in their ranks being the great exception) rejected evangelical influences. Another way of saying this is that, compared to Reformed churches, Anglicans made less stringent demands on the inner resources of individuals. To wit: Belonging to the Church of England did not require individuals to testify to a conversion experience or to submit to an ascetic code of conduct enforced by the clergy and watchful lay members. Nor was any premium placed on strict doctrinal conformity, for, unlike the members of the Reformed tradition, Anglicans had little taste for dogmatism and tolerated differences of opinion on many points of theology. Instead, their clergy encouraged a temperate, practical piety among the laity through liturgical observance and moral admonition. And many colonials found great comfort in this form of Protestantism. Ordinary Anglican lay people found spiritual satisfaction in hearing intoned from the pulpit the familiar, stately cadences of the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of worship services in the Church of England. They were uplifted and sustained by participating in the yearly cycle of rituals commemorating holy days and by savoring the music supplied by choirs and organs. And they took consolation from carefully composed sermons emphasizing the reasonableness of Christianity, the benevolence of God, and the innate capacity of men and women to make proper moral judgments.

So here is the key difference to stress to your students: that Anglicans understood &ldquobeing religious&rdquo more as a matter of doing rather than feeling, more as a matter of godly behavior and faithful ritual observance than as a dramatic, inward transformation. This is not to say that Anglicans disparaged profound religious emotion, nor is it to say that Reformed churches devalued the importance of leading a moral life. But it is to say that the religious messages of these two Protestant groups differed in their EMPHASIS&mdashin what they told the laity was most essential in seeking God and attaining assurance of salvation. In general, it is accurate to say that Anglicans mistrusted sudden, strong, public expressions of religious emotion&mdashthe weeping, shrieking, and trembling that overcame some participants in evangelical revivals. Such behavior most Anglicans disdained as unseemly and disorderly.

Above all, what bears emphasizing in the classroom is that both the Anglican and Reformed versions of Protestantism were and are equally authentic modes of Christian spirituality. Put another way, the question that should never be asked in any historical discussion of early American religious life is: &ldquoWhich group was most truly Christian&mdashthe Anglicans or the Reformed?&rdquo That is strictly a matter for private judgment your job is to help students appreciate the historic diversity of American religious traditions&mdashand impressing upon them the rich variety within colonial Protestantism is a good place to begin teaching that lesson.

To be sure, this advice is not easy to execute, but your efforts won&rsquot go unrewarded. Most of the young people in my classes at a public university in the mid-Atlantic, no matter what their religious backgrounds, respond to such discussions with great enthusiasm and curiosity, if only because they know so little about the full range of spiritual options even within the Protestant tradition. As all veterans in the classroom know, most adolescents run deeper than they let on to adults, and teaching this material probably will confirm that observation.

Until recently, colonial Anglicanism has not received evenhanded, dispassionate treatment from most American historians&mdashand for several reasons. Part of the difficulty is that some supporters of the Church of England emerged as outspoken loyalists during the revolutionary struggle, which led the ardently patriotic historians of the nineteenth century to portray all Anglicans as traitors to the cause of liberty. Then, too, in the wake of the American Revolution and disestablishment, popular support for Anglicanism all but collapsed: as most of their clergy fled to England, former communicants deserted in droves to other Protestant churches. So it fell to the lot of those victorious evangelical denominations in the nineteenth century&mdashCongregationalists, Presbyterians, and Baptists&mdashto write the first histories of American religious life. Not surprisingly, they gave their former competitors short shrift, portraying Anglican parsons as a despicable lot of incompetents, timeservers, and wastrels, who neglected the spiritual needs of the colonial laity while indulging themselves in drink, dance, and other unmentionable forms of dissipation. As for the Anglican laity, they were merely &ldquonominal&rdquo Christians who, when they bothered to attend worship, did so out of duty or fear rather than any real spiritual conviction. Such negative stereotypes persisted well into the twentieth century even those historians with no denominational ax to grind routinely depicted Anglicanism as a lackluster religious tradition that drew adherents mainly from the ranks of the colonial elite&mdashand only because the Church of England so staunchly upheld their privileged position.

Fortunately, the scholarship of the last two decades has restored greater balance to our understanding of colonial Anglicanism. This research has demonstrated that the link between membership in the Church of England and loyalist affinities was tenuous at best&mdashand in the South, the stronghold of Anglicanism, virtually non-existent. On the contrary, many of the so-called Founding Fathers accounted themselves members of the Church of England. The same studies have established that nowhere in the American colonies was membership in the Church of England restricted to a narrow elite of well-to-do merchants, planters, and lawyers instead, Anglican communicants were drawn from a cross section of colonial society. And while it is true that Anglican clergymen were less than zealous in carrying their message into western backcountry districts, most preferring the comforts of their settled parsonages along the coast, they were not, as a group, notorious for incompetence or immorality. As for the Anglican laity&mdashthe ordinary men and women who were communicants in that church&mdashthey appear to have been no less committed than other Protestants to regimens of frequent family prayer, Bible reading, and moral exhortation. And they took as much solace in Anglican forms of worship as members of the Reformed tradition did in their religious practices. On the other hand, most contemporary scholars would agree that colonial Anglicanism was unwavering in its support of the status quo&mdashthe prevailing hierarchies of class, race, and gender that at least some early evangelicals were more inclined to challenge. In short, the current consensus is that Anglicanism was a socially conservative tradition that nonetheless commanded a broad base of support by virtue of its spiritual appeal to the laity.

If you would like to explore the most recent scholarship on colonial Anglicanism, the best place to begin is with Patricia Bonomi&rsquos Under the Cope of Heaven and Jon Butler&rsquos Awash in a Sea of Faith. For an overview of the attractions of Anglicanism to the southern white laity, see Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740&ndash1790 and the opening chapter of Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross.

Christine Leigh Heyrman was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 1986&ndash87. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies and is currently Professor of History in the Department of History at the University of Delaware. Dr. Heyrman is the author of Commerce and Culture: The Maritime Communities of Colonial New England, 1690&ndash1740 [1984], Southern Cross: The Beginning of the Bible Belt [1997], which won the Bancroft Prize in 1998, and Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the Republic, with James West Davidson, William Gienapp, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff [3rd ed., 1997].

Address comments or questions to Professor Heyrman through TeacherServe &ldquoComments and Questions.&rdquo

The Legal Status of Women, 1776–1830

State law rather than federal law governed women’s rights in the early republic. The authority of state law meant that much depended upon where a woman lived and the particular social circumstances in her region of the country. The disparity in standards can perhaps be seen most dramatically in the experiences of African American women. In the North, where states abolished slavery after the Revolution, black women gained rights to marry, to have custody of their children, and to own property. On paper at least, their rights were identical to those of white women. In the slaveholding South, lawmakers continued to deny enslaved workers these basic human rights. But even in the South, a rising number of freed black women theoretically enjoyed the same privileges under the law as white women. However, racial prejudice against both black and Native American women made it difficult to ensure these rights in practice.

In every state, the legal status of free women depended upon marital status. Unmarried women, including widows, were called “femes soles,” or “women alone.” They had the legal right to live where they pleased and to support themselves in any occupation that did not require a license or a college degree restricted to males. Single women could enter into contracts, buy and sell real estate, or accumulate personal property, which was called personalty. It consisted of everything that could be moved—cash, stocks and bonds, livestock, and, in the South, slaves. So long as they remained unmarried, women could sue and be sued, write wills, serve as guardians, and act as executors of estates. These rights were a continuation of the colonial legal tradition. But the revolutionary emphasis on equality brought some important changes in women’s inheritance rights. State lawmakers everywhere abolished primogeniture and the tradition of double shares of a parent’s estate, inheritance customs that favored the eldest son. Instead, equal inheritance for all children became the rule—a big gain for daughters.

Marriage changed women’s legal status dramatically. When women married, as the vast majority did, they still had legal rights but no longer had autonomy. Instead, they found themselves in positions of almost total dependency on their husbands which the law called coverture. As the English jurist William Blackstone famously put it in his Commentaries on English Law (1765–1769):

By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing.

Coverture was based on the assumption that a family functioned best if the male head of a household controlled all of its assets. As a result, a married woman could not own property independently of her husband unless they had signed a special contract called a marriage settlement. Such contracts were rare and even illegal in some parts of the country. In the absence of a separate estate, all personalty a woman brought to her marriage or earned during marriage, including wages, became her husband’s. He could manage it or give it away, as he chose, without consulting her.

This sounds bad, and it was. But one rule worked to mitigate some of the worst effects of coverture. A married woman had the right to be maintained in a manner commensurate with her husband’s social status. If he refused to provide for her appropriately, she could sue and win support from the courts. While waiting for the court’s judgment, she was permitted to run up charges at local stores and taverns—and her husband had to pay for them. Judges consistently applied this rule, called the doctrine of necessities, in order to prevent men from neglecting their wives. But the courts could not stop husbands from gambling or making bad investments. Women had no protection when their husbands proved irresponsible. If creditors pursued a husband for debts, his wife was entitled to keep only the bare necessities of life. This was usually defined as two dresses (so she would have one to wear while the other was being washed), cooking utensils, and a bed.

Women’s rights to real property—the lands and buildings that constituted most wealth in the early national period—were more extensive than their rights to personalty. A husband could not sell or mortgage the realty his wife brought to their marriage without her consent. He could use it, but he could not convey it because a woman’s real estate, generally inherited from her father, was meant to stay in the family and descend through her to her children. A wife also had important rights to the real property that her husband brought to the marriage or purchased afterwards. He could not sell or mortgage it unless she signed a statement signifying her free consent, which was recorded with the deed. Few mortgagors or buyers would enter into an agreement without the wife’s consent. They knew that she retained her right to be maintained by the property in the event of her husband’s death, even if he died insolvent. Courts were careful to ensure that a wife signed a conveyance of her own free will and not because of pressure from her husband. A court officer questioned her apart from him to confirm that she actually agreed to the sale or mortgage.

One of the most important rights of a married woman was dower, which was designed to provide her with support during widowhood. It consisted of a life estate in one-third of the husband’s real property if there were children and one half if there were not. A “life estate” did not mean actual ownership of the property. It was meant only to provide for the wife as her husband would have done had he lived, under a legal system that recognized her position of dependency within the family. When a widow died, her dower lands descended automatically to her husband’s heirs or to his creditors. A solvent husband could leave his widow more than dower if he chose to. He could even leave her his entire estate in fee simple (absolute ownership). But he could not leave her less. Most couples relied on dower as their standard for how much to leave.

Dower was a legal tradition carried over from colonial days. This and other rules about married women’s property rights were meant to support the family as a unit. They worked reasonably well in an economic system based on landed wealth, under which families typically stayed in one place and rarely sold or mortgaged their farms. They did not work as well, however, in a society like the rapidly expanding and industrializing nineteenth-century United States, where lands changed hands frequently and where there was growth in personal property as well as land.

Under these new circumstances, the old system of property law faltered. It failed to give adequate protection to women and, at the same time, denied them the ability to safeguard their own interests. In recognition of this dilemma, states began to pass married women’s property acts in the antebellum decades. These acts gave wives the same legal rights as single women with regard to their estates and wages. It was piecemeal legislation, enacted reluctantly by male lawmakers who would have preferred to keep women dependent within the family. Yet the lawmakers recognized that these reforms were essential in a capitalist economy based on movable wealth.

Political rights were a function of control over property for men in the republic, but gender alone was the basis for women’s exclusion from voting or holding office. Simply put, men with property had the right to vote in the early national period but women, no matter how wealthy, did not, even though women paid the same taxes as men. The reasoning behind this discrimination rested on the assumption that married women were liable to coercion by their husbands if a wife voted, legislators argued, it meant that a man cast two ballots. As one man put it, “How can a fair one refuse her lover?” Yet single women were also denied suffrage, a clear sign that more was at stake than the power of a husband to influence his wife’s choices at the polls.

Blatantly discriminatory attitudes kept lawmakers from giving women the vote. They did not want to share their political power with daughters, mothers, and wives, just as they did not want to share it with freed black men or immigrants. This pattern can be seen clearly in New Jersey, the one state where women with property were allowed to vote after the Revolution. In 1807 legislators took this right away—not only from women but from black men and aliens as well. As it turned out, discrimination against women in the area of the franchise lasted the longest of any disadvantaged group, at least on paper.

American independence brought women greater freedom from husbands who were abusive, neglectful, or adulterous. In colonial society, divorce was virtually impossible under English precedent, but all of the new states recognized the need to end unhappy marriages. The choice of appropriate remedies varied considerably, however. Some states, particularly in the South, only allowed separate residence with alimony (called divorce from bed and board). Other states granted absolute divorce with the right of the innocent party to remarry. In matters of divorce, social and religious values affected the laws in different parts of the country. The conservatism of divorce laws in the southern states, for example, was probably related to slavery: it was difficult for lawmakers to grant women absolute divorces because of their husbands’ adulterous relationships with slaves. Liberal New England laws, in contrast, stemmed from a longstanding Puritan belief that it was better for unhappy couples to separate and remarry than to be joined forever in a state of discord and temptation to sin.

Child-custody rights also changed after the Revolution. The courts were increasingly willing to bypass colonial precedents that favored men in custody disputes. Instead, they placed young children and daughters (although not sons) under the care of mothers. These reforms reflect the rising importance of the gender-based ideology of separate spheres, which gave women moral preeminence in the private sphere of the home and men supremacy in the marketplace and politics. Women would use the concept of moral motherhood to great advantage in their struggle for social justice over the next century.

Marylynn Salmon is the author of Women and the Law of Property in Early America (1989) and The Limits of Independence: American Women, 1760–1800 (1998).

How much would votes sell for in early America? - History

This module has four parts. The first displays the dramatic growth of cotton production in the United States from 1790 to 1860. The second displays the spread of slavery during those same decades. The third allows you to compare the two trends on a single screen, and the fourth graphs the spectacular growth of cotton as a key export crop during this period . As the first map makes clear, cotton was an insignificant crop in the United States prior to 1800. By 1860, however, cotton production dominated large portions of the American South and was by far the most lucrative agricultural commodity in the entire nation. The second map shows that slavery was concentrated in the Chesapeake and Carolina areas in 1790, where it was still principally associated with the growing of tobacco. By 1860, however, riding the great wave of cotton production, the use of slave labor had spread across the entire South. Comparing the two maps will permit you to draw some conclusions about the relationship between these two developments.

How much would votes sell for in early America? - History

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August 7, 1820 - Population in America continues to rise. The census of 1820 now includes 9,638,453 people living in the United States, 33% more than in 1810. The most populated state is New York, with 1,372,812 residents. The center of U.S. population now reaches 16 miles east of Moorefield, West Virginia.

September 28, 1820 - To prove that a tomato is not poisonous, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson eats one in public in Salem, New Jersey.

November 1 to December 6, 1820 - The election of James Monroe to a second term in office comes with a landslide victory in the Electoral College with Monroe defeating John Quincy Adams by a tally of 231 to 1.

Buy Chronology

February 23, 1821 - The first pharmacy college is founded in the Philadelphia College of Apothecaries. Also this same year, the first women's college in the United States of America, Troy Female Seminary, is founded by Emma Willard.

March 30, 1822 - Florida becomes an official territory of the United States.

April 27, 1822 - Civil War general and 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, is born.

April 3, 1823 - American political boss, William Magear Tweed, is born.

December 2, 1824 - When the Electoral College vote yielded no majority, John Quincy Adams would be elected president by the House of Representatives on February 9, 1825, outpolling fellow Democrat Republicans, now a loose coalition of competing factions, including Andrew Jackson, who had actually received a higher number of Electoral College votes, 99, than Adams, 84. It was not a majority due to votes for Henry Clay, 37, and William Crawford, 41. In the first election with popular vote totals, Adams garnered less votes there as well, with 105,321 to 155,872 to Jackson.

April 1, 1826 - The internal combustion engine named the "Gas Or Vapor Engine" is patented by American Samuel Morey.

July 4, 1826 - Two founding members of the United States pass away on Independence Day Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President, and John Adams, 2nd President. On the same day, Stephen Foster, American songwriter and poet, is born.

September 3, 1826 - The first United States warship to navigate the world, the U.S.S. Vincennes, leaves New York City under the command of William Finch.

October 26, 1826 - Kit Carson, mountain man of the western lands, is wanted in Franklin, Missouri, after running away to join a trading party at the age of 16. A reward of one cent is offered for his return to his bondage to learn the saddler's job in Franklin. In 1826, David Edward Jackson, for whom Jackson Hole, Wyoming is named, as well as Jedediah Smith and William Sublette purchase William Ashley's interest in the fur trade, and the company, later to become known as the Rocky Mountain Fur Company when these men sold in 1830, continued to profit from the fur trade across the mountain west.

Early, Absentee, and Mail Voting


The percentage of voters who cast their ballots on a voting machine at a polling place on Election Day has declined steadily over the past decade, while the number of states offering early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and vote by mail has increased.

The total number of voters who voted early, absentee or by mail more than doubled from 24.9 million in 2004 to 57.2 million in 2016, representing an increase from one in five of all ballots cast to two in five of all ballots cast.

The number of U.S. citizens voting early more than doubled from nearly 10.2 million early ballots cast in 2004 to 24.1 million early ballots cast in 2016.

Early, Absentee, and Mail Voting

Voting in the Unites States in the 21st century has undergone some significant changes since the Norman Rockwell image of the voter in the polling booth. One of the most significant changes is the trend of more and more people receiving and casting ballots before Election Day.

Each state has its own laws and regulations governing when, where, and how voters can cast ballots. All states allow for some form of absentee voting by mail, however this process is administered in different ways by the states, including:

Excuse required absentee voting: A voter must provide a reason why they are casting an absentee ballot and cannot appear to vote on Election Day.

No-excuse required absentee voting: A voter does not need to provide a reason why they are casting an absentee ballot and cannot appear to vote on Election Day.

Permanent absentee voting: A voter can sign up once to receive an absentee ballot and will receive absentee ballots in all future elections.

Vote by mail: All registered voters in the jurisdiction are mailed a ballot.

Additionally, certain states allow for early voting, which allows qualified voters to cast a ballot in person at designated locations and during specific times prior to Election Day. In the Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), early voting data includes both early votes cast on voting machines and absentee ballots that are cast at an in person location prior to Election Day.

More People Voting Early, Using Mail and Absentee Ballots

Percent Voting Absentee, By Mail, or Early, 2004-16

There has been a steady increase in the number and percentage of voters voting early in both presidential and off year federal election years since 2004, when the EAVS was first administered the percentage voting early more than doubled from 2004-2016, rising from 8.4 percent to 17.2 percent, with nearly 10.2 million early ballots cast in 2004 and 24.1 million early ballots cast in 2016. The number of absentee ballots cast by absentee voters nearly doubled, from 14.7 million in 2004 to 24.8 million in 2016. Mail voting was tracked beginning in 2008, and the number showed a steady increase through 2016, more than tripling from 2.4 million in 2008 to 8.2 million in 2016. The total number of voters who voted by one of these three methods more than doubled from 24.9 million in 2004 to 57.2 million in 2016, or from one in five of all ballots cast to two in five of all ballots cast.

States with More Than 50% of Ballots Cast Via Early, Mail, and Absentee Voting, 2016

Trends in the States

In 2016, 16 states showed a combined percentage of greater than 50 percent of votes cast early, by mail, or via absentee voting.

Colorado, Oregon and Washington have the highest rates because each is a mail voting state and almost all of their votes were mail ballots. Six additional states reported over 50 percent of their votes as absentee ballots: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, and Utah. Seven states reported having over 50 percent of their votes cast early: Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.


Early, absentee and mail voting has had a variety of impacts on the election process, including implications for voter accessibility. The 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) found that “33 percent of voters 70 years and older voted absentee, compared to 20 percent of voters in their thirties” and that “30 percent of voters with a disability that kept the voter ‘from participating fully in work, school, housework, or other activities’ voted absentee, compared to 22 percent of voters without a disability.” 1 Similarly, a report on the participation of individuals with disabilities found that: “Individuals with disabilities also report voting by mail at much higher rates than do individuals not reporting a disability. This is especially true for people with disabilities that constrain them getting out of the house – people with self-care and independent living difficulties.” 4

Another trend to watch is the way voters return ballots they receive in the mail. In the states where election officials mail ballots to all registered voters, recent data shows the majority of those voters do not return their ballots in the mail. They either drop them off at designated locations or at drop boxes.

Amber McReynolds, director of elections for the City and County of Denver, has said: “Essentially, it’s ballot delivery. And I very specifically say that. I don’t call it ‘vote by mail.’ And the main reason why is that most voters actually return their ballot in person, as opposed to using the Post Office to mail it back.” 3 In her county in 2016 for example, 80 percent of those who cast a mail ballot dropped those ballots off rather than used the mail. 4

Denver is not alone. The 2016 SPAE asked mail voters how they returned their ballots. In Colorado, 73 percent of those surveyed said they dropped them off in person, 59 percent reported they did so in Oregon, and 65 percent in Washington. 5

Looking Ahead

EAVS data show that the percentage of voters who cast their ballots on a voting machine at a polling place on Election Day has declined steadily over the past decade, while the number of states offering early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and vote by mail has increased. As more states consider options such as vote by mail, the EAVS will capture if and how this trend continues.

1 “2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, Final Report,” Charles Stewart III, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, p. 13.

2 “Defining the Barriers to Political Participation for Individuals with Disabilities,” Thad E. Hall and R. Michael Alvarez, May 14, 2012, p. 4.

3 Amber McReynolds, director of elections for the City and County of Denver, “View it From a Different Angle,” U.S. Election Assistance Commission Election Data Summit, Aug. 12, 2015, /videos/view-it-from-a-different-angle-amber-mcreynolds-director-of-elections-denver-co/.

5 “2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, Final Report,” Appendix 4.


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