Before Jim Crow

The Politics of Race in Postemancipation Virginia

By Jane Dailey

292 pp., 6.14 x 9.21, 4 illus., 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4901-9
    Published: December 2000
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9918-2
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7106-0
    Published: November 2009

Gender and American Culture

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Long before the Montgomery bus boycott ushered in the modern civil rights movement, black and white southerners struggled to forge interracial democracy in America. This innovative book examines the most successful interracial coalition in the nineteenth-century South, Virginia's Readjuster Party, and uncovers a surprising degree of fluidity in postemancipation southern politics.

Melding social, cultural, and political history, Jane Dailey chronicles the Readjusters' efforts to foster political cooperation across the color line. She demonstrates that the power of racial rhetoric, and the divisiveness of racial politics, derived from the everyday experiences of individual Virginians--from their local encounters on the sidewalk, before the magistrate's bench, in the schoolroom. In the process, she reveals the power of black and white southerners to both create and resist new systems of racial discrimination. The story of the Readjusters shows how hard white southerners had to work to establish racial domination after emancipation, and how passionately black southerners fought each and every infringement of their rights as Americans.

About the Author

Jane Dailey, associate professor of history at The Johns Hopkins University, is coeditor of Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights.
For more information about Jane Dailey, visit the Author Page.


"A nicely written and sharply observed study, which adds theoretical precision and empirical substance to the growing body of scholarship that treats race as a socially constructed, rather than a 'natural,' category of historical analysis."--Journal of American Studies

"Impressive. . . . A sophisticated and complex analysis. . . . A provocative and important work, one that should influence the study of race for years to come."--Journal of Southern History

"[A] fine book."--Journal of American History

"The narrative of the rise and fall of the Readjuster Party provides a mere backdrop against which Dailey explores several fascinating issues . . . . An important addition to the growing literature about race in the late nineteenth-century South."--American Historical Review

"This study aids in developing a more complete picture of race relations and the struggle for equality in nineteenth century America."--Civil War Book Review

"Before Jim Crow is an elegant, often sardonic study of the Readjuster movement."--Times Literary Supplement