Plessy v. Ferguson

(1896)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Statement of the Case

The case begins with a recitation of the facts of the case and its legal posture. On June 7, 1892, Plessy, the defendant also known as the plaintiff in error, paid for a first-class train ticket on the East Louisiana Railway headed from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana, and sat down in an empty seat in the railroad car reserved for whites. He was “of seven-eighths Caucasian and one-eighth African blood” and had such a light complexion that one could not tell that he had any African ancestry. However, Plessy had already decided to challenge the law before boarding the train. Thus, after sitting down, Plessy informed the conductor that he was of mixed blood. He was told he had to move to the section for nonwhites or get off the train. Plessy was “forcibly ejected from said coach” and taken to jail after he refused to move.

Plessy was charged with violating an act of the Louisiana legislature commonly known as the...

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Plessy v. Ferguson (National Archives and Records Administration)

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