By D. Michael Bottoms
In the South after the Civil conflict, the reassertion of white supremacy tended to pit white opposed to black. within the West, in contrast, a substantially diverse drama emerged, rather in multiracial, multiethnic California. country elections in California to ratify Reconstruction-era amendments to the U.S. structure raised the query of even if extending suffrage to black Californians may additionally bring about the political participation of hundreds of thousands of chinese language immigrants.
As historian D. Michael Bottoms indicates in An Aristocracy of Color, many white Californians observed during this and different Reconstruction laws a possibility to the delicate racial hierarchy that they had imposed at the state’s felony procedure throughout the 1850s. yet nonwhite Californians—blacks and chinese language in particular—recognized an extraordinary chance to reshape the state’s race kin. Drawing on courtroom files, political debates, and eyewitness debts, Bottoms brings to lifestyles the huge conflict that followed.
Bottoms starts off by way of reading white Californians’ mid-century efforts to ban nonwhite testimony opposed to whites in court docket. demanding situations to those legislation by means of blacks and chinese language in the course of Reconstruction a trajectory that will be repeated in later contests. every one minority challenged the others for larger prestige in courtroom, on the polls, in schooling, and in other places, using stereotypes and ideas of racial distinction well known between whites to argue for its personal rightful position in “civilized” society. Whites contributed to the melee via sometimes yielding to blacks on the way to maintain the chinese language and California Indians at a disadvantage.
These dynamics reverberated in different kingdom felony structures during the West within the mid- to overdue 1800s and national within the 20th century. As An Aristocracy of Color finds, Reconstruction outdoor of the South in short promised a chance for broader equality yet finally bolstered and preserved the racial hierarchy that favorite whites.
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Extra resources for An Aristocracy of Color: Race and Reconstruction in California and the West, 1850–1890 (Race and Culture in the American West Series)
An Aristocracy of Color: Race and Reconstruction in California and the West, 1850–1890 (Race and Culture in the American West Series) by D. Michael Bottoms