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Connecticut’s Constitutional Amendment denied the franchise to African Americans

coca-cola machineI’m really tired of this puffery regarding Connecticut being “tarnished” because they are shown voting no on the 13th amendment to abolish slavery (the whole “just in time for Oscar” October surprise against Lincoln). Here’s the thing to know about that time, something the film makes very very clear. The key abolitionist was Thaddeus Stevens who all but had to lie to squeak this amendment through. Even people voting on the amendment were not voting for equality.  Voting yes on the 13th amendment did not erase who we were, what we did or what we believed then. It can’t erase that we believed blacks unequal to whites. It can’t erase that even after the end of slavery the Jim Crow laws so badly crippled the black community they are still recovering from decades of it.   And it can’t erase all of the crimes against humanity inflicted since then leading up to today.  So, you know, off your high horse already:

The noteworthy participation of Black soldiers in the Civil War might seem to imply that Blacks would not only be freed of slavery, but gain civil rights as well. Nevertheless, a referendum of Hartford’s white citizens in 1866 denied the franchise to Blacks. Despite the War and despite popular sentiment against slavery, Hartford’s whites were not about to share political power.

The following year in Kentucky, the Klu Klux Klan was formed, which implies that ordinary whites in the U.S. felt so economically insecure they needed to “circle the wagons” to protect what little they had.

The Fourteenth Amendment forced the Connecticut legislature to remove the word “white” from the sixth article in the State Constitution so that Blacks acquired the franchise despite the majority of Hartford’s whites. This might have led to worsened social relations (as in the South), but the fortunes of the North were hinged to an expanding capitalist economy. Sam Colt was, after all, a war profiteer, and the state economy benefited greatly from the production of cloth and the newly invented canned foods needed by a mass army. War brought prosperity to Hartford, which probably mitigated social tensions for a while.

Connecticut’s Jim Crow laws (albeit nowhere near as bad as Kentucky, for example but still):

1879: Military [Statute] Authorized state to organize four independent companies of infantry of “colored men”. Companies were to receive same pay as other companies, including one company parade in the Spring and one in September.

1908: Miscegenation [Statute] Prohibited intermarriage between white persons and those persons having one-eighth or more Negro blood.

1925: Antidefamation [Statute] Prohibited motion picture theaters from showing any film which ridiculed the Negro race.

1933: Miscegenation [Statute] Miscegenation declared a felony.

1935: Education [Statute] Upheld school segregation as originally authorized by statute of 1869.