Web Module # 1
Lynch Law and Segregation
the end of the Civil War, Southern whites sought to control the
former slaves in the South and undermine the influence of the
Republican Party. A favorite method was to use mob violence
or its threat by informal groups or organized groups such as the
Klu Klux Klan. Gradually, following the end of Reconstruction
in 1877, these extra-legal methods, although never completely
abandoned, were replaced with the systematic building of legal
restrictions to segregate African- Americans from white
society. Popularly referred to as Jim Crow laws they
affirmed the second-class citizenship of the former slaves and
their descendents by denying them even the most basic civil rights
of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
These restrictions were upheld by the decision of the United States
Supreme Court in Plessy v Ferguson (1896) by declaring that
separate but equal public accommodations were sanctioned by the
United States Constitution.
violence was never accepted by African-Americans. One of the
most outspoken and tireless leaders against lynch law was Ida B.
Wells-Barnett. Born a slave in 1862 she managed to gain a
college education and pursued her love of journalism. First
in editorials, in her Memphis, Tennessee newspaper Free
Speech, she spoke out forcefully about the practice of lynching
and exposed its darkest inspirations and intense brutality.
After her newspaper’s office was burned she moved to Chicago
where she continued her crusade until her death in 1931.
Segregation also was never accepted by African-Americans.
Beginning in the 1880s, a debate over how best to fight segregation
animated the black community. The most prominent
African-American in the late Nineteenth Century was Booker T.
Washington. Born a slave, he worked his way through Hampton
Institute and in 1881 became the President of Tuskegee Institute in
Alabama. Living in the South and depending on Southern
philanthropy, Washington followed a cautious route, but his goal
always remained to end the system of racial segregation. His
Atlanta Exposition Address (1895) was widely circulated and
met with an overwhelming favorable response throughout the United
the Twentieth Century, Washington’s position was attacked by
a new group of young African-Americans. Lead by W.E.B. Du
Bois, a Harvard Ph.D. in history, these mostly Northern black
intellectuals believed that Washington’s public remedy for
segregation was not the answer. Du Bois, who taught at
Atlanta University and had first supported Washington, broke with
the famous leader in a book titled The Souls of Black Folks
(1903). His efforts to chart a new course lead eventually to
the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP). Funded in part by Northern white
philanthropy, this inter-racial organization would assume the
leadership role in the struggle for African-American Civil
This web module exercise is designed to introduce students to
the nature of race relations at the turn of the 20th
Century and the African-American response to these
conditions. The exercise has three components.
- For the preliminary analysis of the documents do the
- Read the documents (note you have a choice with regard to the
Lynch Law documents).
- Guided by the questions, describe the content of each
- What is the historical context for each document? (Why was the
- How do the documents contradict other documents?
- For the final analysis each Web Module Analysis Group must
submit a single report that does the following.
- Building on your preliminary analysis explains what the
materials taken together tell us about race relations and the
debate over them at the turn of the century.
- What evidence within the documents most informs and supports
Lynch Law in Georgia
text: Lynch Law in Georgia
pamphlet was authored by Ida B. Wells-Barnett and widely circulated
in the North. It contains the reports of several lynchings
and the results of an investigation by a Chicago police officer
into the brutal mutilation and lynching of a Samuel Wilkes (alias
Hose) in 1899.
one of the lynching accounts and the report of the police
officer at the end of the pamphlet.
you describe the lynching you have selected?
- What are the justifications given for the lynching?
- Was the mob wild or under control?
- What do you think the real motives of the mob were?
- What does the police officer determine was the cause of this
Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Address
text: Booker T. Washington Speech
full text: http://www.longman.awl.com/history/primarysource_17_6.htm
Washington delivered this famous speech at the Cotton State
Exposition of Industry and the Arts held in Atlanta, Georgia.
you describe the general tenor of the speech?
- What are Washington’s goals?
- How does he feel his goals are best achieved?
- Do you think the site of the speech influenced the content?
W.E.B.Du Bois Critique of Booker T. Washington (1903)
text: W.E.B. Du Bois Critique
full text: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/text/1642d-WEB.html
you characterize W.E.B. Du Bois’ criticism of Booker T.
Why does he criticize Washington’s ideas?
- What about Washington’s ideas undermine his goals?
- What does Du Bois propose as an alternative program?
- Do the two agree on any issues?
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