The Main Factor Affecting The Rights Of African Americans In The Period 1865-1941

Submitted By chaaaaarlotte
Words: 1012
Pages: 5

‘The main factor affecting the rights of African Americans in the period 1865-1941 was federal government action’

During the period 1865-1941 a lot had happened in the regards to the rights of African Americans. The practice of formal segregation between blacks and whites had been introduced and implemented and the rights of the African Americans were experiencing very little improvement. From looking at the sources I can see that the majority of them agree with the statement however it is not entirely accurate.

Source one is a speech from President Rutherford B. Hayes during his inaugural address. As it is his inaugural address, he is attempting to gain support and will want please as many people as he can. He claims he wants to promote the interest of ‘the whites and the colored people both and equally’ which suggests he wants to create an equal society. However, he was a white southerner who was racist and he therefore is unlikely to follow through with his proposition. During the time, an electoral commission had found in favour of Hayes, whose path to office was smoothed with an agreement, later known as the compromise. This agreed that the democrats would accept him as president, even though he didn’t get the popular vote, providing he promised to withdraw troops from the south. So this shows that he was trying to pull the country together as one in order to please the republicans and he was more interested in keeping his position through the support of the south rather than improving conditions for the African Americans.

Source six has a similar concept to source one. It is a letter from the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She says that her husband, President Roosevelt, claimed that it was ‘unconstitutional for the federal government to step in in the lynching situation.’ This is in fact a lie. The president knew that if he tried to intervene on the lynching issues arising in the south, he would lose southern support. He wanted to keep the country together as the country was still crippled from the effects of the Wall Street crash of 1929. This, again, shows that the rights of African Americans are seen as a side effect of gaining support for the president. The fact that the first lady brings up the issues for the African Americans shows that the President did have the opportunity to change the conditions for them but was more focused on keeping his southern support.

Source two is a quote from Justice Brown, summarising at Plessy vs Ferguson. He is saying that the separation of the races is not implying the African Americans are inferior, and that this is only their perception of it. The Plessy vs Fergusson case is an extremely important court case in that it gave legal standing to the idea of separate but equal. The Plessy vs Ferguson court case set the precedent for formal segregation. There is an obvious continuity with the formal segregation as from source seven, from 1942 which is 46 years after the Plessy vs Ferguson case, President F.D Roosevelt orders that there will be no employment discrimination in the defence industry. From these two sources I can see that federal government obviously has a significant impact on the rights of African Americans as even though the court case was 46 years before, formal segregation was still occurring.

From source three, it can be determined that the federal government wasn’t the only factor affecting African American’s rights. It is a picture of Booker T. Washington having dinner at the White House with President T. Roosevelt in 1901. Booker T. Washington was a black leader with a pragmatic approach. The fact that he was in the White House shows the he was in the position to affect the rights of African Americans, Washington set up the Negro business league and the Tuskagee institute, and so he, along with