The Law and Economics of Post-Civil War Restrictions on Interstate Migration by African-Americans
George Mason University School of Law
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 96-03
Texas Law Review, Vol. 76, 1998
An edited and revised version of this paper later became Chapter 1 of Only One Place of Redress: African Americans, Labor Organizations and the Court from Reconstruction to the New Deal (Duke University Press 2001).
In the decades after the Civil War, southern states attempted to prevent African-Americans from migrating by passing emigrant agent laws. These laws essentially banned interstate labor recruitment. The Supreme Court upheld emigrant agent laws in the little-known case of Williams v. Fears in 1900. The history of emigrant agent laws provides evidence that: (1) state action played a larger role in discrimination against African-Americans than is generally acknowledged; (2) laissez-faire jurisprudence was potentially helpful to disenfranchised African-Americans; and (3) the federalist structure of the U.S. provided African-Americans with opportunities to improve their lot through internal migration. Chapter 1 of the book Only One Place of Redress: African Americans, Labor Regulations and the Courts from Reconstruction to the New Deal (Duke University Press 2001) is based on this Article.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 68
Keywords: Civil Rights, Migration, Economics
JEL Classification: J6, J7
Date posted: June 27, 2008 ; Last revised: September 15, 2008
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