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
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: Suggested Citation