The Law and Economics of Post-Civil War Restrictions on Interstate Migration by African-Americans

68 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2008 Last revised: 15 Sep 2008

David Bernstein

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

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Abstract

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.

Keywords: Civil Rights, Migration, Economics

JEL Classification: J6, J7

Suggested Citation

Bernstein, David, The Law and Economics of Post-Civil War Restrictions on Interstate Migration by African-Americans. George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 96-03; Texas Law Review, Vol. 76, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=876873 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.876873

David Eliot Bernstein (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

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