Guinn v. United States

(1915)

Context

The Guinn case was one of the first major court cases in which the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) played a role, filing a brief, and represented one of the few times in the early twentieth century when the federal government appeared on the side of African Americans in a legal battle. Guinn was also one of the first challenges to discriminatory voting laws, which had been restricting voting rights to certain segments of American society for more than forty years. The first such laws appeared in the post–Civil War Reconstruction period. African Americans and poor whites gained allies in the White House when the Republican Party—the party of Abraham Lincoln—took power in 1860; meanwhile, southern Democrats—supporters of segregationist policies at that time—vowed to wrest their power back using any and all means to achieve their ends. Despite the fact that the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the...

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Edward White (Library of Congress)

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