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By D. Michael Bottoms

In the South after the Civil battle, the reassertion of white supremacy tended to pit white opposed to black. within the West, in contrast, a extensively varied drama emerged, quite in multiracial, multiethnic California. country elections in California to ratify Reconstruction-era amendments to the U.S. structure raised the query of no matter if extending suffrage to black Californians may additionally result in the political participation of millions of chinese language immigrants.

As historian D. Michael Bottoms exhibits in An Aristocracy of Color, many white Californians observed during this and different Reconstruction laws a hazard to the delicate racial hierarchy they'd imposed at the state’s criminal process through the 1850s. yet nonwhite Californians—blacks and chinese language in particular—recognized an unparalleled chance to reshape the state’s race kinfolk. Drawing on courtroom documents, political debates, and eyewitness debts, Bottoms brings to lifestyles the enormous conflict that followed.

Bottoms starts through reading white Californians’ mid-century efforts to ban nonwhite testimony opposed to whites in court docket. demanding situations to those legislation by way of blacks and chinese language in the course of Reconstruction a trajectory that will be repeated in later contests. every one minority challenged the others for larger prestige in court docket, on the polls, in schooling, and in other places, utilizing stereotypes and concepts of racial distinction renowned between whites to argue for its personal rightful position in “civilized” society. Whites contributed to the melee via sometimes yielding to blacks to be able to retain the chinese language and California Indians at a disadvantage.

These dynamics reverberated in different country criminal structures in the course of the West within the mid- to overdue 1800s and national within the 20th century. As An Aristocracy of Color finds, Reconstruction open air of the South in short promised a chance for broader equality yet after all reinforced and preserved the racial hierarchy that favorite whites.

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An Aristocracy of Color: Race and Reconstruction in California and the West, 1850–1890 (Race and Culture in the American West Series) by D. Michael Bottoms


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