To what extent did the US president hinder rather than help the development of African American civil rights in the period from 1865-1992?

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Nisha sharma

To what extent did the US president hinder rather than help the development of African American civil rights in the period from 1865-1992?

It can be argued that over the period 1865-1992 the majority of the presidents hindered the development rather than help as the presidents Johnson to Cleveland actively slowed down the civil rights. However, it can also be said that some of presidents did help the African Americans to a large extent, for example in the 1960s Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson actively help the African American’s through their policies. Presidents at the start of the time period might have hindered the development because of their white supremacist views, prioritising reconstruction and the need to maintain white Democrat support in the South. Presidents between Cleveland and Kennedy and after Ford can be categorised as passive relating to the issue of Civil Rights.  They were distracted many events such as the Great Depression, Vietnam and the Cold War which lead to hinder the development of African American. Although most hindered the development and were passive, by 1992 presidents had created Civil Rights for African Americans.  In this essay I will be discussing the both side of the argument in which I will include the Presidents who helped the development of African American and those who hinder the development.

 Presidents hindered the development of African Americans Civil Rights because at the start of the time period they frequently held White Supremacist views. For example, Johnson at the start of the period can be seen as actively hindering the development of African American Civil Rights. Johnson clearly opposed civil right legislation as the civil war was his priority. Although he insisted on the south ratifying the 13th Amendment, he then allowed them to develop their own ‘Black Codes’.  This discriminated against African Americans and prevented them from voting with clauses as the ‘Grandfather Clause’. These clauses allowed only Black people with literate skills to vote, knowing full well that as slaves they would not have been able to read.  Therefore it can clearly be said that Johnson was hindering the development of Civil Rights for African Americans and continued to facilitate institutional racism within the USA as the society and Johnson held white supremacist view.

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Another example of a president hindering the development of civil rights is Hayes as the Jim Crow laws were developed during his presidency.  These laws segregated the black community, hindering the development of their civil rights. These laws very influential as they as reflected the social attitude at that time for example in Plessy v Ferguson case the supreme court ruled the racial segregation of railway carriages as constitutional and this acted as a legal precedent for segregation in all form of public life. These laws damaged the civil right development as public saw segregation legal.

 From 1885 till 1916 ...

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This uses many useful examples to discuss the question and retains its focus but the structure is too simplistic and so it can be difficult to follow the thread of the essay. Proof reading would have been useful.