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A Legal History of MississippiRace, Class, and the Struggle for Opportunity$
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Joseph A. Ranney

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496822574

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496822574.001.0001

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Legal Legacies of War and Reconstruction

Legal Legacies of War and Reconstruction

(p.76) Chapter Four Legal Legacies of War and Reconstruction
A Legal History of Mississippi

Joseph A. Ranney

University Press of Mississippi

The Civil War destroyed Mississippi’s slave system and its antebellum economy. From 1865 to 1890, lawmakers struggled to define the legal status and rights of newly-freed slaves and to build a new, more diversified economy. The era was marked by sharp legal shifts. Mississippi created one of the nation’s harshest postwar black codes (1866) but then followed a more liberal course during Reconstruction, enacting one of the nation’s first anti-segregation laws (1873). After Reconstruction, the state’s 1890 constitutional convention showed other Southern states how they could prevent blacks from voting while avoiding federal scrutiny. The shifting times were exemplified by Horatio Simrall, a legislator and judge who helped create the 1866 black code and 1890 anti-suffrage provisions but also upheld the 1873 anti-segregation law; and Isaiah Montgomery, who fought for black economic independence but, to the surprise of both races, supported the 1890 suffrage restrictions and urged his fellow blacks not to resist.

Keywords:   Mississippi, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil rights, Civil War

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