Nell Irvin Painter – Suffrage

Already in 1878 certain parishes in Louisiana had begun to require Blacks to carry passes in order to move about on the public roads. In addition, protection papers – membership cards in fictitious Democratic clubs – served the same purpose elsewhere. If a Black man refused to “join” such a Democratic club, he made himself fair game for White Leaguers or mercenaries, on the roads or in his own home. Membership in these Democratic clubs indicated that the individual in question had promised to vote Democratic (and could be held to that promise).

The need for passes and protection papers effectively abridged Black’s freedom to come and go as they wished. For them, this circumscription recalled slavery and the Black Code regimes. To Henry Adams and his fellows, it was a warning presaging their future in the Redeemed South.

  • P.101, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3

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