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Tennessee Law Review



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Ever since the United States was reconstituted after the Civil War, a Confederate narrative of states’ rights has undermined the Reconstruction Amendments’ design for the protection of civil rights. The Confederate narrative’s diminishment of civil rights has been regularly challenged, but it stubbornly persists. Today the narrative survives in imprecise and unquestioning odes to state sovereignty. We analyze the relationship, over time, between assertions of civil rights and calls for the protection of local autonomy and control. This analysis reveals a troubling sequence: the Confederate narrative was shamefully intertwined with the defense of American chattel slavery. It survived profound challenges raised by post-Reconstruction civil rights claimants and by mid-twentieth century civil rights movements. It reemerges regularly to pose questionable but unanswered challenges to calls for national protection of civil rights. Our examination of the Confederate narrative’s jurisprudential effects exposes an urgent need to address the consequential but under-recognized tension between human and civil rights in the United States on the one hand and local autonomy on the other.


The Persistence of the Confederate Narrative

A Companion Atlas

This appendix visually represents the doctrinal argument advanced in The Persistence of the Confederate Narrative written by Peggy Cooper Davis, Aderson Francois, and Colin Starger and published in Volume 84 of the Tennessee Law Review . The six maps below chart the genealogies of key Supreme Court opinions described in the Article. These genealogies link Supreme Court opinions to Reconstruction legislation, Constitutional Amendments and historical events. Click on any of the depicted opinions, laws, amendments, or events to open a new window containing open-source information about the link.

Sources: Supreme Court opinions are provided by CourtListener (a free site that provides verbatim opinion text) and by the Court itself. Reconstruction legislation is represented by documents gathered through original research. Information about historical events and constitutional amendments comes from the open-source repository Wikipedia.

+ Map 1: Congressional Reconstruction 1865-1877

+ Map 2: Early Supreme Court Interpretation 1871-1906

+ Map 3: Justice Harlan, Civil Freedom, and Citizenship 1868-1911

+ Map 4: Enforcing Rights and Enacting Citizenship 1883-1964

+ Map 5: A Sharper Cry for the Federal Sword 1871-1967

+ Map 6: Lost Opportunities to Invoke the People's Narrative 1883-2015



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