Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

by Steve Luxenberg


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A shattering narrative of how a nation embraced “separation” and its pernicious consequences.Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” drew remarkably little attention when the justices announced their decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century.Told through the eyes of the people caught up in the case—the New Orleans resisters who brought it, the best-selling author recruited to argue it, the justices who heard it—Separate wends its way through a half-century of American history, beginning at the dawn of the railroad age, germinating in the soil of slavery and the Civil War, and then bursting forth in the aftermath of Reconstruction as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life. Winner of the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, Separate is a sweeping, swiftly paced, and surprising account of our nation’s most devastating divide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393239379
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 33,844
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Steve Luxenberg is the author of the critically acclaimed
Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. During his thirty years as a Washington Post senior editor, he oversaw reporting that earned numerous national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Prologue April 1896 xiii

Cast Of Characters xxi

Part I Ambition

Chapter 1 Taking Their Seats • Massachusetts, 1838-1843 3

Chapter 2 Harlan of Kentucky • 1853-1857 25

Chapter 3 Brown of New England • 2856-1857 47

Chapter 4 Tourgee of Ohio • 1858-1860 69

Chapter 5 The Free People of Color • New Orleans, 1860 91

Part II War

Chapter 6 "The Harlan Name" • Kentucky, 1858-1862 107

Chapter 7 "A War of Which No Man Can See the End" • Brown in Detroit, 1860-1864 131

Chapter 8 "For This I Am Willing to Die" • Tourgee on the March, 1861-1863 153

Chapter 9 "Claim Your Rights" • New Orleans and Washington, 1863-1864 175

Part III Ascent

Chapter 10 Choosing Sides • Harlan in Kentucky, 1865-1871 193

Chapter 11 "A Taste for Judicial Life" • Brown in Detroit, 1866-1872 215

Chapter 12 Tourgee Goes South • North Carolina, 1865-1870 237

Chapter 13 Equal but Separate • New Orleans and the North, 1867-1871 261

Part IV Precipice

Chapter 14 "Is Not Harlan the Man?" • Kentucky and Washington, 1875-1878 281

Chapter 15 "Uncongenial Strifes" • Brown and Tourgee, 1875-1879 305

Chapter 16 Fool's Errand • North and South, 1880-1883 329

Chapter 17 The Color Line Sharpens • 1883-1888 351

Chapter 18 "The Negro Question" • Mayville, Washington, and New Orleans, 1889-1890 373

Part V Resistance

Chapter 19 "In Behalf of 7,999,999 of My Race" • New Orleans, Mayville, Detroit, and Washington, 1890-1891 397

Chapter 20 Arrest • Mayville and New Orleans, 1892-1893 419

Chapter 21 "You Are Fighting a Great Battle" • Washington, Mayville, and New Orleans, 1893-1895 443

Chapter 22 "In the Nature of Things" • March, April, May 1896 465

Epilogue 489

Acknowledgments 507

Notes 513

Sources 571

Index 581

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