Welcoming Ruin

The Civil Rights Act of 1875


The Civil Rights Act of 1875, enacted March 1, 1875, banned racial discrimination in public accommodations – hotels, public conveyances and places of public amusement. In 1883 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional, ushering in generations of segregation until 1964. This first full-length study of the Act covers the years of debates in Congress and some forty state studies of the midterm elections of 1874 in which many supporting Republicans lost their seats. They returned to pass the Act in the short session of Congress. This book utilizes an army of primary sources from unpublished manuscripts, rare newspaper accounts, memoir materials and official documents to demonstrate that Republicans were motivated primarily by an ideology that civil equality would produce social order in the defeated southern states.
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Biographical Note

Alan Friedlander, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (1982), is Professor Emeritus in History at Southern Connecticut State University. He is the author of Processus Bernardi Delitiosi: The Trial of Fr. Bernard Délicieux (American Philosophical Society, 1996), and Hammer of the Inquisitors: Brother Bernard Délicieux and the Struggle Against the Inquisition in Fourteenth-Century France (Brill, 2000).

Richard Allan Gerber, Ph.D., University of Michigan (1967), is Professor Emeritus in History at Southern Connecticut State University, and Adjunct Professor in History at Charter Oak State College. He is the author of The System: The American Constitution in Historical Perspective; Revolution and Union. He has received the Scholarship award from the Organization of American Historians and the Teaching Excellence award from the Lehman College (CUNY).

Table of contents

List of Figures and Maps

1. Prologue: The Civil Rights Act of 1875 in the History of Reconstruction
Historiographical Perspectives
Precedent: The Civil Rights Act of 1866
Charles Sumner’s Quest

2. A Muster of Moths: The Forty-Third Congress of the United States

3. Charge at New Market Heights: Debate in the House of Representatives

4. Purblind Child of Darkness: Sumner’s Civil Rights Bill Passes the Senate

5. The Deadest Corpse: No Exit in the House

6. Horace Redfield’s Journey: The Long Hot Summer of 1874

7. The Shirt of Nessus: Elections in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia
North Carolina

8. Quintessence of Abominations: Elections in Tennessee and Alabama

9. Carry the News to Hiram: Elections in Florida and Louisiana

10. Greeley’s Ghost: Elections in Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Maryland

11. Taliaferro’s Ghost: Border States and the North; Obituary
West Virginia
New Jersey

12. Suffer the Little White Children: Vox Populi Reconsidered

3. If Ruin Comes from This: A House Decided

14. Dear Tom’s Deception: Birth of the Civil Rights Act

15. De Pervisions, Josiar: Civil Rights Dawn

16. Epilogue: Then and Now
Prequel: 1964 to 1875
Sequel: One Step Forwards, One Step Backward

A. Chronology
B. Texts: Civil Rights Proposals; The Civil Rights Act



Scholars of Reconstruction. Persons interested in civil rights, race relations, or in American political or constitutional history. Perfect for libraries and graduate students.