American Civil Rights


Andrew Johnson

1865 - 1869

Republican President. Wanted Reconstruction to be run by Southerners and pardoned Southern plantation owners. Also tried (but failed due to an alliance between radical and moderate Republicans) to veto key legislature. Survived an impeachment attempt and quietened down afterwards.

Ulysses S. Grant

1869 - 1877

Republican President. Broadly supported Reconstruction but dogged by financial scandals.


1877 - 1881

Republican President. Won on electoral college votes despite failing to win the popular vote. Therefore oversaw the Great Compromise of 1877 and the end of Reconstruction.


1881 - 1885

Republican President. Did little in terms of civil rights.

Grover Cleveland

1885 - 1897

Democratic President. Upheld 1977 Compromise philosophy and did not question white supremacy. Also sent in federal troops to end the Pullman strike.


1897 - 1901

Republican President. Did little for civil rights.

T. Roosevelt

1901 - 1909

Republican President. Held discussions with Booker T. Washington but no action followed.


1909 - 1913

Republican President. Saw civil rights as a state issue.


1913 - 1921

Democrat President. Oversaw US involvement in the First World War. A Southern President who supported segregation and dismissed all African Americans from federal positions. Also showed KKK film "The Birth of a Nation" in the White House.


1921 - 1923

Republican President. President during the boom years and believed in Laissez-faire. Claimed South had a "superior understanding" of African American civil rights.


1923 - 1929

Republican President. President during boom years and a believer of Laissez-faire. Claimed African Americans were "as sacred as every one else" but took no action.


1929 - 1933

Republican President. President during the Wall Street Crash and believed in Laissez-faire. Became very unpopular and lost to Roosevelt in a landslide defeat. Tried to appoint a racist Supreme Court judge but was successfully blocked by NAACP and also tried to use racism to beat F. Roosevelt, thereby ending black support for the Republicans.

F. Roosevelt

1933 - 1945

Democrat President. Extremely popular, especially in contrast to Hoover. His New Deal did trade unions in particular a lot of good and tried to veto powers to allow presidents to sieze striking companies, but failed to take much positive action for African Americans due to his need for Southern Democrats to approve his radical New Deal.


1945 - 1953

Democrat President. Oversaw the Dixiecrat revolution in 1948 when Southern Democrats felt he was doing too much for African Americans but still won the election by a significant margin. However, congressional opposition meant little legislation as passed.


1953 - 1961

Republican President. Not necessarily sympathetic towards African American civil rights and preferred not to be directly involved (a notable exception being the events at Little Rock) but rather to let Congress run itself.


1961 - 1963

Democrat President. A young and very popular president and heavily influenced by his adviser, Attorney General and brother Robert Kennedy, he was very sympathetic towards African American civil rights but struggled to get legislation through Congress. Ultimately his most useful contribution was his assassination and the opportunity it gave Johnson.


1963 - 1969

Democrat President. Paradoxically a Southern Democrat who arguably did more for African American civil rights than any other president. He had already accumulated a great deal of experience in Congress having pushed through the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts and was a skilled politician, using the sympathy following Kennedy's death to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Ultimately, the Vietnam War was his undoing and it severed relations between him and Martin Luther-King.


1969 - 1974

Republican President. Claimed to oppose further African American civil rights action but affirmative action and bussing. He did, however, take a hard line on the black panthers and oversaw their demise. He was brought down by the Watergate Scandal, forced to resign before he was impeached.


1974 - 1977

Republican President. Appointed the first black transport secretary (William T. Coleman) but was uneasy about too much federal intervention in civil rights.


1977 - 1981

Democrat President. PEANUT FARMER!!! Won the 1976 election by gaining 90% of the black vote. Southern Democrat but sympathetic towards African American civil rights.


1981 - 1989

Republican President. Negative towards all civil rights. Ended the New Deal philosophy and broke the PATCO strike, severely hindering the power and popularity of trade unions. Also claimed his administration was "colour blind" and ended affirmative action. Appointed fewer blacks than anyone since Eisenhower, and tried (and failed) to resist the new Voting Rights Act in 1982 and making MLK's birthday a public holiday in 1983. The Civil Rights Restoration Act had to be passed over his veto.


1989 - 1993

Republican President. Promised to be tough on crime, which (due to living conditions) was often black crime. Only 6.9% of his judicial appointments came from ethnic minorities and also appointed Clarence Thomas, a rare black conservative Republican, as a Supreme Court judge.

African Americans

13th Amendment


Freed all slaves in America.

Freedman's Bureau

1865 - 1872

The Freedman's Bureau was a government funded initiative to try to support newly freed slaves and train black lawyers, scientists and doctors. $17 million was spent setting up 4000 schools and 100 hospitals. However, it was unpopular in the south and ended in 1972 (was short-term) and in 1890, 65% of black school children were illiterate compared to 15% of white school children.

Military Reconstruction Act


Divided the South into military districts until conventions set up new state governments and constitutions and were accepted into the union. The ex-confederate states were not accepted unless they ratifies the new amendments.

Civil Rights Act (1867)


Granted full citizenship to all ethnic minorities except Native Americans (strengthened by the 14th Amendment).

14th Amendment


Granted full citizenship and equal protection under the law to all ethnic minorities except Native Americans.

15th Amendment


Granted all citizens the right to vote, regardless of "race, colour or previous condition of servitude". Did NOT include women.

Slaughterhouse case


Supreme Court case that stated that the 14th Amendment protected a person's individual rights but their state civil rights are at the discretion of state governments.

1877 Compromise


Hayes won the 1877 election but did not win the popular vote. In return for the Democrats recognising him as President, he had to remove military leaders from the South, effectively ending reconstruction.

Plessy vs, Fergusson


Supreme Court ruling upholding segregation in the South, on the basis of "separate but equal".

Mississippi vs. Williams


Supreme Court ruling declaring Southern voting restrictions constitutional as they did not explicitly discriminate by race.

Springfield Riots


Riots at the birthplace (and burial site) of Abraham Lincoln after allegations of attempted rape. When police refused to give the man to the rioters, they took revenge by attacking and burning black homes and businesses. An 84 year old black man (rumoured to have made shoes for Lincoln) was lynched for being married to a white woman for 32 years.

Guinn vs. US


The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the NAACP, saying the grandfather clauses in Maryland and Oklahoma were unconstitutional.

Moore vs. Dempsey


Supreme Court ruling that did not uphold the death sentences of 12 African Americans as their trials were dominated by white mobs.

Trudeau vs. Barnes


Supreme Court case ruling that all state appeals must be used before coming to the Supreme Court. This meant the NAACP's work would become slower and more expensive.

7 Supreme Court justices replaced

1937 - 1941

7 of the 9 Supreme Court justices were replaced by Roosevelt in order to be more liberal and therefore more friendly towards his New Deal.

Gaines vs. Canada


Supreme Court case looking into Southern segregation, and ruled separate really must be equal. However, it failed to challenge the principles of Plessy vs. Fergusson.

Brown vs. Board of Education


Supreme Court case ruling segregation unconstitutional as it was psychologically damaging (as proven by the Doll Test)

Browder vs. Gayle


Supreme Court case that ruled segregation on buses following the ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Boynton vs. Virginia


Supreme Court case ruling inter-state travel facilities illegal after the work of the freedom riders.

Civil Rights Act


Landmark legislation passed due to Johnson's skilful exploitation of Congress after Kennedy's death.

Voting Rights Act


Banned any restriction of the vote based on:
educational achievement
knowledge of politics
moral character

Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education


Supreme Court case that upheld bussing.

Green vs. Connally


Supreme Court case that ruled federal funds would not be available for segregated higher education.

Griggs vs. Duke Power Company


Supreme Court upholding affirmative action, saying it was unconstitutional for Griggs Power Company to require blacks to have a degree or pass an intelligence test due to previous educational discrimination.

Miliken vs. Bradley


Supreme Court case that ruled bussing is only constitutional if the segregation was deliberate.

California vs. Baake


Supreme Court case that ended affirmative action when white student Baake claimed he had been rejected from university because he was white, and therefore discriminated against on the basis of race.

Martin Luther-King's birthday made a public holiday


This was despite President Reagan's reluctance.

Native Americans

Treaties begin to be formed


14th Amendment


Did NOT include Native Americans.

Battle of Little Bighorn


Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes defeat General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn under leadership of Crazy Horse and Chief Gall. Added to perception as violent savages.

Carlisle Indian School formed


One of many schools formed to try to assimilate Native Americans, teaching them English and trade skills or domestic skills.

Indian Rights Association formed


Formed to aid process of assimilation by largely religious White Americans. Had a base in Congress used to lobby Congress and criticised organisations such as the Board of Indian Commissioners, calling them dishonest and corrupt.

Dawes Act


Allotted land to families using a patriarchal system, despite many tribes having a matriarchal system. Allotted all Native American Land except that of the 5 civilised tribes. Any remaining land was sold to White Americans. 72 million acres of 150 million acres was lost (48%)

Curtis Act


Extended the Dawes Act to include the 5 civilised tribes, despite attempts by the tribes to form their own state of Sequoyah, but was rejected by Congress, despite winning the referendum at he convention. Another 2 million acres of land was lost and "Sequoyah" became part of the state of Oklahoma.

Lone Wolf vs. Hitchcock


Lone Wolf attempted to sue Secretary of the Interior Ethan Hitchcock, claiming the Dawes Act was a breach of the Medicine Lodge Treaty. However, the Supreme Court ruled against him, declaring Federal Government to have "plenary power" over Native Americans.

State of Sequoyah attmept


In an attempt to keep the self-governing rights the Curtis Act would revoke the next year, the 5 civilised tribes attempted to create their own state called Sequoyah. Despite winning the referendum at the convention, Congress rejected the admission and the land was admitted as part of the State of Oklahoma.

Society of American Indians formed


Formed by 50 Native Americans, this was the first example of a group formed by Native Americans. It aimed to improve health, living conditions, civil rights and local governments, and largely supported assimilation. However, it was crippled by divisions and had very little lasting impact.

Meriam Report


Criticised policy of allotment and conditions on reservations.


15th Amendment


Made no reference to gender.

Trade Unions