Why did the federal government eventually decide to advance the civil rights agenda

Why did the federal government eventually decide to advance the civil rights agenda

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Why did the federal government eventually decide to advance the civil rights agenda? The progress of civil rights in the United States has been far from linear. In 1856, the Supreme Court  ruled in  Dred Scott v. Sandford  that blacks, whether slaves or not, could never be recognised as citizens  of the state, and that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. Within 150  years, the situation has been completely reversed; the Supreme Court no longer deals with issues  relating to discriminatory practices against blacks, but rather faces questions on the constitutionality  of affirmative action.  Following the end of the Civil War, the XIII, XIV and XV amendments abolished slavery, defined  citizenship   and   granted   all   citizens   equal   rights   and   protections,   and   enfranchised   all   citizens  respectively. However, when Reconstruction ended in 1877, and the federal army withdrew from the  South, civil rights took a turn for the worse.  The Republican Party had traditionally been the main advocate of black rights, perhaps in part for  ideological reasons, but mainly for the partisan reason that blacks tended overwhelmingly to vote  Republican. However, by the 1890s, the Republicans were less inclined to be the torchbearers, on the  national stage, for black rights. This change occurred as a result of three factors; firstly, the Party  accepted that its efforts to create a viable Southern core of voters, comprised of different races, had  failed. It was clear that its support in the south would not be sufficient to ensure successful election  campaigns. Secondly, the electoral dividends for northern politicians criticising in Congress the actions  of   the   southern   whites   had   declined.   Thirdly,   and   perhaps   most   importantly,   massive   electoral  successes in Congress in 1894 and in the Presidential elections of 1896, with support coming from  many different parts of the country, meant that the GOP no longer had to rely on southern black votes.  The Supreme Court also contributed to the discrimination felt by blacks from the 1890s onwards. In  1896, in  Plessy v. Fergusson , the Supreme Court ruled that railroad, and as such other, segregation was  constitutionally permissible under the XIV amendment, under the term of “separate but equal”. Blacks  were disfranchised throughout the southern states, but this was enacted through the imposition of  often impossible literary tests and the introduction of a poll tax, rather than through law which would  have been constitutionally at odds with the XV amendment. The Court of the era, now described as 
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course PPE PPE taught by Professor None during the Summer '08 term at Oxford University.

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Why did the federal government eventually decide to advance the civil rights agenda

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