Disenfranchisement about Race and Class in the Post-Civil War United States
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This essay looks at the post-Civil War United States and how patterns of disenfranchisement developed. Besides the commonly acknowledged race-based discrimination, I argue that class rose to prominence as a second factor in “stripping the vote.” Together, class and race mutually reinforced each other in both the South and the North. Both Southern and Northern legislatures developed measures to bar both black and poor white voters. Not only were these immigrants racialized as “semi-whites,” there was a revival of strong criticism of the poor in general. The two trends in North and South met forces in ideological arguments against universal male suffrage, epitomized in Francis Parkman’s famous essay, that mirrored those seen at the nation’s founding. Understanding this rise of reactionary movements against progress is vital as a class, and race-based discrimination has not disappeared today.
Disenfranchisement, The South, The North, Black people, Class and Race