A myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced "separation" and its pernicious consequences.
Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.
Separate spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours—race and equality. Wending its way through a half-century of American history, the narrative begins at the dawn of the railroad age, in the North, home to the nation’s first separate railroad car, then moves briskly through slavery and the Civil War to Reconstruction and its aftermath, as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life.
Award-winning author Steve Luxenberg draws from letters, diaries, and archival collections to tell the story of Plessy v. Ferguson through the eyes of the people caught up in the case. Separate depicts indelible figures such as the resisters from the mixed-race community of French New Orleans, led by Louis Martinet, a lawyer and crusading newspaper editor; Homer Plessy’s lawyer, Albion Tourgée, a best-selling author and the country’s best-known white advocate for civil rights; Justice Henry Billings Brown, from antislavery New England, whose majority ruling endorsed separation; and Justice John Harlan, the Southerner from a slaveholding family whose singular dissent cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.
Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, Separate provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation’s most devastating divide.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
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About the Author
Steve Luxenberg is the author of Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation and the critically acclaimed Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. During his thirty years as a Washington Post senior editor, he has overseen reporting that has earned numerous national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xi
Prologue April 1896 xiii
Cast Of Characters xxi
Part I Ambition
Chapter 1 Taking Their Seats • Massachusetts, 1838-1843 3
Chapter 2 Harlan of Kentucky • 1853-1857 25
Chapter 3 Brown of New England • 2856-1857 47
Chapter 4 Tourgee of Ohio • 1858-1860 69
Chapter 5 The Free People of Color • New Orleans, 1860 91
Part II War
Chapter 6 "The Harlan Name" • Kentucky, 1858-1862 107
Chapter 7 "A War of Which No Man Can See the End" • Brown in Detroit, 1860-1864 131
Chapter 8 "For This I Am Willing to Die" • Tourgee on the March, 1861-1863 153
Chapter 9 "Claim Your Rights" • New Orleans and Washington, 1863-1864 175
Part III Ascent
Chapter 10 Choosing Sides • Harlan in Kentucky, 1865-1871 193
Chapter 11 "A Taste for Judicial Life" • Brown in Detroit, 1866-1872 215
Chapter 12 Tourgee Goes South • North Carolina, 1865-1870 237
Chapter 13 Equal but Separate • New Orleans and the North, 1867-1871 261
Part IV Precipice
Chapter 14 "Is Not Harlan the Man?" • Kentucky and Washington, 1875-1878 281
Chapter 15 "Uncongenial Strifes" • Brown and Tourgee, 1875-1879 305
Chapter 16 Fool's Errand • North and South, 1880-1883 329
Chapter 17 The Color Line Sharpens • 1883-1888 351
Chapter 18 "The Negro Question" • Mayville, Washington, and New Orleans, 1889-1890 373
Part V Resistance
Chapter 19 "In Behalf of 7,999,999 of My Race" • New Orleans, Mayville, Detroit, and Washington, 1890-1891 397
Chapter 20 Arrest • Mayville and New Orleans, 1892-1893 419
Chapter 21 "You Are Fighting a Great Battle" • Washington, Mayville, and New Orleans, 1893-1895 443
Chapter 22 "In the Nature of Things" • March, April, May 1896 465