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Collisions of Conflict

Studies in American History and Culture, 1820-1920

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Jerzy Sobieraj

This book explores and analyzes the problems and challenges that have resulted from the Civil War, Reconstruction, slavery, and segregation in North America. These painful chapters in American history have continued along racial and regional lines and are of particular interest today when the USA are for the first time governed by an African American president. The postscriptum extends the main narrative by focusing on selected writers’ activities and fiction during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
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Chapter 7 “Wounded in the House of Our Friends”: Segregation in the Republic

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Chapter 7

“Wounded in the House of Our Friends”: Segregation in the Republic

Students of American history and culture most frequently associate the segregation of the races with the 1896 Supreme Court decision in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, forgetting that the court only sanctioned what already existed in several states long before. As David Brown and Clive Webb remind us, referring to their research done in 1960s,

[l]ong before the law sanctioned the separation of the races, segregation had become the pervasive custom and practice across the South. De facto segregation was a pervasive phenomenon in southern cities during the antebellum era. Although it was not systematically enforced, the color line had been re-established before the end of Reconstruction. The segregation laws of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries therefore did not create Jim Crow, but rather added institutional force to existing social practice. (Brown and Webb 191)

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