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Litigating Across the Color LineCivil Cases Between Black and White Southerners from the End of Slavery to Civil Rights$
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Melissa Milewski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190249182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190249182.001.0001

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A Revolution in the Courts

A Revolution in the Courts

(p.27) 1 A Revolution in the Courts
Litigating Across the Color Line

Melissa Milewski

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 traces the long, hard-fought battle over black southerners’ legal rights that took place during and in the wake of the Civil War. Individual African Americans who fought for their rights in the face of incursions by their former masters and other whites were at the front lines of this battle. By appealing to federal agencies like the Freedmen’s Bureau, hiring lawyers, and testifying in courtrooms throughout the South, they mounted a stiff challenge to white southerners’ attempts to continue to largely shut them out of the courts. The federally operated Freedmen’s Bureau and the northern military occupying the South also worked to open southern courts to African Americans during the early years of Reconstruction. In addition, Congressional Republicans’ takeover of Reconstruction helped give some black southerners the federal support to exercise the rights they claimed.

Keywords:   Reconstruction, court, Freedmen’s Bureau, Civil War, law, African American, lawyer, litigant, civil case, South

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