Jim Crow Laws: Oregon and Pennsylvania Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms

Jim Crow Laws: Oregon and Pennsylvania [The editors of Americans All ] (c.1877 - c.1967) Code, Colored, Constitution, Descendant, Felony, Intermarriage, Legislature, Mulatto, Negro, Nurse, Ordinance, Penal Code, Public Transportation, Railroads, Schools, Segregation, Separate But Equal, Slavery, Statute, Supreme Court, Voting, Waiting Rooms


Background information is provided to put the Jim Crow laws in context and explain how minorities were treated prior to the Civil War. In a few cases, the dates of specific information also have been provided. The northern States pioneered viciously discriminatory black codes long before they existed in any Southern State. Most northern States in the 1860’s did not permit immigration by blacks or, if they did, required them to post a $1000 bond that would be confiscated if they behaved improperly. In Oregon, concerns about Asian immigration produced more legislation against Chinese immigrants than against African Americans. Source

In 1844, the legislature passed the Exclusion Law: Persons who brought slaves to Oregon were required to remove them within three years. If they refused, the slaves would be freed. The law also stated that any free black person over the age of eighteen who did not leave the territory in two years if male and three years if female, would be subject to trial. If found guilty they would "receive upon his or her bare back not less than twenty nor more than thirty-nine stripes, to be inflicted by the constable of the proper county. Should the individual still refuse to leave, the punishment would be repeated every six months until he or she did. The law was soon changed so that the "whipping" was repealed, and the law was amended to include a provision for hiring out violators at public auction. Source   In 1849, another Exclusion Bill passed and the preamble to the bill stated “. . . situated as the people of Oregon are, in the midst of an Indian population, it would be highly dangerous to allow free  Negroes and mulattoes to reside in the territory to intermix with Indians, instilling in their minds feelings of hostility against the white race.

1857: The Constitution (Article 1, Section 35) stated: No free negro, or mulatto, not residing in this State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the Legislative Assembly shall provide by penal laws, for the removal, by public officers, of all such negroes, and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the State, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ, or harbor them. When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. Source 

1862: Racist and oppressive legislation was passed that prohibited people of color from voting, qualifying as witnesses in court cases and prohibited marriage between whites and persons of one-fourth or more Negro blood. Many counties and cities had exclusionary ordinances such as "sundown laws", requiring blacks to be out of town or off the streets by sundown. The Oregon legislative session passed a law which enforced an annual poll tax of five dollars to be paid by "every Negro, Chinaman, Hawaiian and Mulatto residing within the limits of this state.” Source

1864: Congress made it illegal for Native Americans to be taught in their native languages. Native children, as young as four years old, were taken from their parents and sent to Bureau of Indian Affairs off-reservation boarding school. Source 

1866: A miscegenation Statute made it unlawful for any white person to intermarry with any "Negro, Chinese, or any person having one-quarter or more Negro, Chinese or kanaka blood, or any person having more than one-half Indian blood." Oregon’s citizens did not pass the Fourteenth Amendment, granting citizenship to Blacks. Exclusion Laws were still in effect making it illegal for Blacks to live in Oregon. Source 

1867: The City of Portland's sixteen black children were denied access to the city's free educational system. Source 

1877: The Nez Perce Tribe clashed with the U.S. Army in their Wallowa homeland in northeast Oregon, and Chief Joseph and his people refused to go to a reservation. Instead, the tried unsuccessfully to go to Canada and freedom, but were stopped just 40 miles from the border. Source 

1880’s Chinese immigrants were driven by mobs out of Oregon City, Mount Tabor and Albina. Source 

1885: Congress banned the admission of contract laborers. The Contract Labor Law was largely a response to Chinese “coolie” labor, but it explicitly had exemptions written into the law that demonstrated occupational preference. Source  

1890s: There was an unwritten understanding among Portland employers that Negroes brought into the state would not be re-employed by another employer. This forced anyone losing his job to leave the state. Source

1890s: Reduction in Chinese immigration contributed to a dramatic increase in Japanese immigrants to Oregon: typically, young males arriving without families. They came to work on railroads, in lumber and canning industries and as farm workers. Many restaurants and businesses posted signs reassuring customers that they employed no Asian help. Source

1905: Oregon Supreme Court upheld segregation in theaters. Source

Pre-1920: Blacks, in most cases, could buy or rent homes wherever they wanted. However, there were some cases where restrictive covenants or exclusionary clauses in real estate deeds, excluded Japanese, Chinese and African Americans from purchasing certain parcels. A restrictive covenant for the U.S. Grant Place subdivision is stated as follows: . . . street known as U.S. Grant Place; and no building thereof shall be used or occupied otherwise than for strictly residence purposes, and shall not be used or occupied by Chinese, Japanese, or Negroes, except that persons of such races may be employed as servants upon said premises. Source 

1920s: As European immigrants came into the area, unions refused to admit blacks and the ugly process of institutionalized discrimination became a reality for Portland's black community. Blacks were refused admission to theaters, hotels and restaurants. A pattern of resident segregation began to form, and it became difficult for blacks to rent houses and apartments. Source

1921: Ophelia Paquet, who was Native American, lost control of her late husband’s estate to her brother-in-law when the Oregon Supreme Court ruled her marriage of thirty-three years null and void, because her husband had been white. Source

1923: The Oregon state legislature, dominated by members of the Klan, passed several restrictive laws. The Alien Land Law prevented first generation Japanese Americans from owning or leasing land. The Oregon Business Restriction Law allowed cities to refuse business licenses to first generation Japanese Americans. Source 

1923: An Oregon WWI veteran was denied U.S. citizenship. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind could not be a naturalized citizen. Anthropologists defined people of India as belonging to the Caucasian race. A previous ruling had affirmed that immigration law referring to “white" meant “Caucasian” as it applied to denying citizenship to light skinned Japanese immigrants. In this case, Justice Sutherland argued that the "common man's" definition of “white” did not correspond to all "Caucasians". Even though Indians were considered “Caucasian” they were not “white”. Therefore, they could not be naturalized. Thus, the color of skin became the legal qualification for citizenship. Source 

1924: A voting Statute and constitutional amendment passed in 1924 required electors to read the constitution in English and write their name. Source  

1926: Oregon repealed its Exclusion Law, which barred Blacks from the state, by amending the state constitution to remove it from the Bill of Rights. Source