U.S. History/origins of segregation
How social and political developments in the United States influenced the debate over the origins of segregation ?
Southern Segregation was actually a relatively new development. During several centuries of slavery in America, people of different races lived and worked together on plantations in very close proximity. After the Civil War compelled southern whites to grant black slaves their freedom, there were several decades where the races still generally continued to mingle as a new social order developed.
Segregation was actually more common in the North before and shortly after the War. Northern cities tended to segregate themselves into ethnic neighborhoods where immigrants from various countries and their descendents remained in close communities restricted by tradition to others from their own home country or region. When blacks began immigrating to these cities, they began to form their own separate communities.
Shortly after the War, southern States began to pass laws enforcing racial segregation. Its main purpose seemed to be to keep black isolated and prevent social interactions that might help blacks develop an equal status with whites. Early laws, however, were prevented by northern dominated Reconstruction governments and Federal laws. After reconstruction ended and many federal laws were struck down as unconstitutional by the Courts. Reconstruction took a more powerful hold. In the 1880's and 90's, many new segregation laws were passed all over the south. When the Supreme Court held in 1896, that such laws were constitutional, these laws became embedded in the fabric of society for many decades.
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