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J Afr Am St (2010) 14:337358 DOI 10.

1007/s12111-009-9104-7 A RT I C L E S

Politics, Rights, and Spatiality in W.E.B. Du Boiss Address to the Country (1906)
Robert W. Williams

Published online: 11 August 2009 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract Organized in 1905, the Niagara Movement opposed racial discrimination in the U.S.A. and promoted its goals and means for racial uplift. During its second meeting in 1906 at Harpers Ferry, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote the Address to the Country, which set forth a series of demands for political and civil rights, and also called for Congressional intervention to secure those rights. This paper explores the critical spatiality of race, politics, and rights that inheres within the Address so that one can better understand the nationalizing strategy advocated by the Niagara Movement. Such a strategy implicated spatiality both as an end goal that supported civil and political rights via dismantling segregation and other discriminatory spatial structures, and also as a meansa politics of scalethat expanded the scope of political struggles to national arenas. Keywords Race . Civil rights . Niagara movement . Political rights . Geographical scale

Introduction The Niagara Movement, when created in 1905, was intended to establish a nationwide organization to oppose racial discrimination and to promote its own specific goals and strategies for racial uplift. By so doing, it directly challenged the leadership of Booker T. Washington. At the second meeting of the Niagara Movement in 1906 at Harpers Ferry, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote the Address to the Country (ATTC), which is also cited as Address to the Nation (Du Bois 1906a; New York Times 1906). The Address articulated a set of demands for political and civil rights, and also called for Congressional intervention to secure those demands.

R. W. Williams (*) Political Science, Bennett College, 900 East Washington St., Greensboro, NC 27401, USA e-mail: e-mail:


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Underlying the political arguments of the Address was an implicit and critical conception of the spatiality of politics. This paper will interpret Du Boiss 1906 Address in terms of space, place, and scaleintertwined concepts often used by geographers to study the spatiality of society. Space, from a critical-geographic perspective, is not merely a measurable distance; it is not a geometric plane in which all points are of equal significance; and it is not a neutral container in which humans act and interact (Curry 1996). Space arises from social relations and social practices that are constituted in the multiform dimensions of the world. In its dialectical ways space is produced by human actions and social relations, and in turn space influences humans via the constraints and opportunities induced by those same spatial structures. Although Du Bois in the Address to the Country did not specify authors or works of geography, he was aware of the importance of space and place in interpersonal situations (e.g., in his The Souls of Black Folk, 1903) and of geographical factors in history (e.g., in his John Brown, 1909, The Negro, 1915, and The World and Africa, 1947), to mention only a few examples of the spatial dimensions of his thought (also see Du Bois 1935). In addition, Du Bois in his local studies, like The Negroes of Farmville, Virginia (1898) and The Philadelphia Negro (1899a) examined particular locales so as to better understand the specificity and diversity of African American lives and conditionsall with the intention of challenging White supremacist ideas of supposed African American uniformity and alleged inferiority. In such studies Du Bois suggested solutions to end racial discrimination that involved both Black and White efforts, including Black educational attainment and moral uplift as well as White tolerance and Christian fellowship. The ATTC is significant in that context because of its explicit emphasis on what I have called herein its critical spatiality. Thus, although many of his socialscientific works were localized in scope, Du Boiss politics, especially via the Niagara Movement, increasingly included a national scalar orientation. My intention in this essay is to reconstruct the arguments of the Address via a geographical framework, clarifying its inherent critical spatiality of race, politics, and rights. By exploring the spatiality of politics implicit within the ATTC one can better understand the nationalizing strategy advocated by Du Bois and the Niagara Movement. That particular strategy implicated spatiality in terms of both an end goal to dismantle myriad cases of discriminatory spatial structures (e.g., segregated facilities) across the nation, and also a means to expand the scope of the political struggle to national arenas via a politics of scale. For a critical concept of spatiality, such as can be inferred from Du Boiss overall ideas and the Address itself, spaces of discrimination had been constructed and legitimated via discourses and acts, both official and unofficial. However, as the ATTC strongly implied, a critical spatiality also might be used to inform and create liberatory tools for the fight against racial and social injustice. The insights found therein thus help us to better grasp, as exemplified in the ATTC, how space, place, and scale have intersected historically with race in U.S. society and its political movements. Considering the Address in terms of critical spatiality will augment other studies that have examined race with regard to spatial structures and their implicit racialized social relationships. Such other studies include research on specific areas, like the notable Black Metropolis (Drake and Cayton 1945), on apartheid and

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segregation (Jackson 1989; Johnson 1944), and on social movements and protests (Dwyer 2000; Peake and Schein 2000; Self 2000). Also investigated are geographic processes, such as spatially related human behavior in inner cities (Harvey 1972; Rose 1971), and rural-to-urban migration (Drake and Cayton 1945; Tolnay 2003; Woodson 1918). Accordingly, with their emphases on dynamic processes, such studies have theoretically helped to undermine past works that had stressed environmental determinism with its focus on naturalizing racial differences in terms of climatic zones or other geographical factors (Peet 1985). Also of spatial importance are the interpretations of the Black Nation thesis which holds not only that African Americans are an oppressed community, or nation, within a racist U.S.A., but that they should have the right to self-determination within their own territory, whether defined within extant U.S. borders or abroad (Delany 1852; Forman 1984; Haywood 1948; Muhammad 1997; also see Dawson 2001). Adding to the previous works are the few studies that have examined the spatial dimensions in Du Boiss thought (e.g., Miller 1989; Wilson 2002). Nonetheless, his 1906 Address has not received scholarly attention from a spatial perspective, thereby warranting further scrutiny. Various African American organizations existed prior to the founding of the Niagara Movement. Annual conferences at Tuskegee Institute and Hampton University as well as the National Negro Business League primarily emphasized self-help as a way to racial uplift, rather than political activism for equality and freedom (Meier 1966: Ch. VIII). Other organizations were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that focused on political tactics and goals, such as the National Afro-American Council and the Committee of Twelve for the Advancement of the Interests of the Negro Race (Adams 1902; Mebane 1900; Meier 1966: 7071, 128130; National Afro-American Council 1898). The National Association of Colored Women sought both to promote self-help and to politically challenge Jim Crow laws (Terrell 1898: 13). Despite the presence of such organizations and because of what they deemed to be the accommodationist influences of Booker T. Washington, Du Bois and a few others, such as Freeman Murray and Monroe Trotter, took an independent course (Lewis 1993: 310; Norrell 2009). In 1905, Du Bois planned the first meeting of what was to become the Niagara Movement. The participants convened in a hotel at Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. It was the first such meeting of African Americans in the new 20th Century oriented towards political solutions to the political and social problems confronting African Americans (Du Bois 1905; Du Bois and Trotter 1905; also see Lewis 1993 and Rudwick 1957). The first meeting set up committees in various states in order to facilitate the Movements organizational strategy and to challenge segregationist policies (McMurry 2000: 278). Subsequently, Northern state chapters were encouraged to pursue civil rights legislation in their particular states (Rudwick 1957: 189). In mid-August 1906, the second meeting of the Niagara Movement was held in Harpers Ferry at Storer College (Barber 1906). The numbers had increased and women were allowed to participate in a few of the meetings sessions; women also held their own auxiliary sessions (Lewis 1993). Moreover, the Movements constitution made no gender distinction (Giddings 2008: 453)a point illustrated in two documents on Women and the Niagara Movement (Niagara Movement 1906a, b). Women indeed participated actively over time in various ways, such as in


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promoting membership and in mobilizing for reforms against segregation (Nahal and Matthews 2008; Rice 2005). Nonetheless, women apparently did not occupy direct roles in influencing the movement at the highest leadership levels (Giddings 2008: 453). Such gender biases limited the definition of citizenship promulgated by the ATTC, as will be discussed below. Three more annual meetings of the Niagara Movement were held; the fifth and last conference was convened in 1909. Over time the state organizations of the Movement did meet with a few successes: e.g., the D.C. branch helped to oppose Jim Crow railroad cars in both the courts and Congress (Hershaw 1908; also Niagara Movement 1908). The Movement eventually ended in the months following the fifth meeting, but its weaknesses had become increasingly evident over its short life span. According to Rudwick, the Niagara Movement was plagued by its own organizational inexperience and by harassed by the accommodationist Tuskegee Machine (Rudwick 1957: 177; also see Nelson 2002: 1612). In addition, other factors seriously weakened the Movement, such as internal disagreements, the diminishing interest of some members, a paucity of financial resources, and the lack of a mass base of working-class support (Du Bois 1907a, b; Lewis 1993: 375377; Nelson 2002: 161; Rudwick 1957: 192198). After the formation of the NAACP in 1909, Du Bois requested that Niagara Movement members support the new association (Lewis 1993: 439). This paper initially examines the Address in terms of the idea of rights in U.S. political thought and history. This section ends by posing three questions about the spatial scale of rights and about the governmental arenas best able to secure those rights. The next sections provide a spatial interpretation of the Address in terms of scale and place. Finally, the paper analyzes the nationalizing strategy proposed in the ATTC, including its caveats and limitations.

Of Rights and Politics in the United States In the history of U.S. political thought on rights, one major perspective holds that natural rights are not given by government, but rather are conferred by a divine power. Natural rights pre-exist government. In the social contract tradition of political thought, governments are designed and created to protect those natural rights and the subsidiary but still important rights called positive rights (Levy 1999: 7). Various political movements within U.S. history, including those seeking rights for women and persons of color, have used the language of natural rights. The Declaration of Independence is of course the locus classicus for the articulation of natural rights in the U.S.A.a point made by the free African American Benjamin Banneker when he referred to slavery as a denial of basic rights in a 1791 letter to Thomas Jefferson (Latrobe 1845: 15). Life, liberty, and happiness are natural rightsas fundamental to the U.S. founders as to their intellectual precursors (e.g., John Locke 1963; see also McDonald 1985). Natural rights also include the right to travel and to marry (Levy 1999: 250254). Positive rights are those rights derived as a way to promote the natural rights. Governments are intended to protect individuals via creating and enforcing positive rights. Positive rights include the right to vote, the right to hold office, the right to avoid having

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troops quartered in personal homes during times of peace, the right to bail, and the right of presumed innocence in legal cases (Levy 1999: 17, 254). In the Address to the Country Du Bois demanded the natural and positive rights that were enjoyed by other Americans, especially by White males. He wrote: First, we would vote; with the right to vote goes everything . . . . Second. We want discrimination in public accommodation to cease. Third. We claim the right of freemen to walk, talk, and be with them that wish to be with us. Fourth. We want the laws enforced against rich as well as poor; against Capitalist as well as Laborer; against white as well as black. Fifth. We want our children educated. (Du Bois 1906a: 368) For Du Bois, the securing of those rights for African Americans would also benefit the U.S.A. as a whole because then the country would be adhering to its political ideals (Du Bois 1906a: 367). In the five sets of rights demanded in the Address, Du Bois did not seem to challenge the classical liberal perspective that informed much of the American political thought on rights. However, Du Bois emphasized voting rights as the first right to be secured when he wrote: with the right to vote goes everything: Freedom, manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters, the right to work, and the chance to rise, and let no man listen to those who deny this (Du Bois 1906a: 368). This emphasis on voting rights, a positive right, raises an interesting observation. John Locke in his Second Treatise on Government, considered a major philosophical influence on Americas founding (McDonald 1985: 60), had elaborated first on natural rights, laws, and liberties before discussing government and its role (Locke 1963). Du Bois, however, strongly emphasized the political means needed to safeguard people and the exercise of their natural rights. The inequalities and constraints on freedom generated by actual discrimination were real experiences and not part of a philosophers hypothetical state of nature. Du Boiss ideas on rights had more in common with the tradition of Thomas Paine. Paine wrote in 1795: The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery.... (Paine 1908: 267). Du Bois surely would have agreed. Du Bois did not create his own elaborate theory of natural and positive rights. Nevertheless, he did provide a philosophical grounding which can be found in several essays written at approximately the same time as the ATTC. Therein, Du Bois justified a definition of African Americans in terms of their fundamental humanity, which would mean that as humans they would possess the natural rights enjoyed by other races. A crucial essay to examine in this regard is Du Boiss The Development of a People (1904b). He set forth four overlapping phases of human advancement historically considered (1904b: 294). He wrote: The average American community of to-day has grown by a slow, intricate and hesitating advance through four overlapping eras. First, there is the struggle for sheer physical existence.... Above this comes the accumulation for future subsistencethe saving and striving and transmuting of goods for use in days


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to come.... Then in every community there goes on from the first, but with larger and larger emphasis as the years fly, some essay to train the young into the tradition of the fathers.... And, finally, as the group meets other groups and comes into larger spiritual contact with nations, there is that transference and sifting and accumulation of the elements of human culture which makes for wider civilization and higher development. These four steps of subsistence, accumulation, education and culture-contact are not disconnected, discreet stages. (Du Bois 1904b: 295) He then provided descriptions of what he designated as typical examples of the worst and the best African American households. The so-called best household manifested the indicators of social progressespecially those in the United States and thereby provided the foundation of humanness upon which rights could be justified. In his words: What the figures of Negro advancement mean is, that the development has been distinctly and markedly in the right direction, and that, given justice and help, no honest man can doubt the outcome. The giving of justice means the recognition of desert wherever it appears; the right to vote on exactly the same terms as other people vote; the right to the equal use of public conveniences and the educating of youth in the public schools. (Du Bois 1904b: 309) By possessing the capacity to develop and progress socially African Americans possessed the natural rights inherent in humans and the positive rights derived therefrom. Du Boiss social-scientific research of those early years documented many advances defined according to the prevalent social indicators of the time: literacy, property, wealth accumulation, educational attainment, etc.. But lest some of Du Boiss fellow Americans hold that all or most African Americans advance to a certain level before being considered fully citizens with the rights of citizens Du Bois argued that rights should not be withheld because of, in his elitist wording, any lack [of] the breeding and culture which the most satisfactory human intercourse requires (Du Bois 1911: 362). In his contemporaneous essay The Future of the Negro Race in America he demonstrated that the exercise of rights and social improvement were mutually reinforcing: indeed, the protection of rights for all African Americans greatly facilitated their opportunities for achievement (1904a: 1618). That point could be inferred also from the overlapping stages of human progress that he had discussed in The Development of a People. It should be noted that such a position seems at odds with Du Boiss earlier view that voting rights could be limited justifiably to Whites and Blacks who possessed what he quoted as sufficient civilization and intelligence (1899b: 3227). Although in the Address Du Bois was demanding only extant rights that had already been secured for Whites (and especially White males), his demands were directed at the national government, specifically Congress (Du Bois 1906a: 368). The demands in the ATTC also highlighted the spatiality inhering in rights, or more pointedly the spatiality inhering in the practice and enforcement of rights. One way to understand this spatiality of rights is to relate it to the Fourteenth Amendment. Du Bois implicitly invoked the Fourteenth Amendment (ratified in 1868) and its equal protection and due process clauses. But Du Boiss interpretation of those clauses did

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not agree with the conventional jurisprudence of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1906. The Fourteenth Amendment addressed two crucial facets of African American existence since emancipation. First, the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizens as those who were born or naturalized in U.S. territory (thereby overturning the Dred Scott case of 1856, which held that Blacks were not citizens and had no rights that would be recognized). The Fourteenth Amendment was a constitutional way to reinforce what the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (14 Stat. 27) had previously done, which was to define citizenship in terms of birth within U.S. territory. Second, the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896 decided how and, crucially for the purposes of this essay, where the Fourteenth Amendment was to apply to African Americans. The equality in the equal protection clause was to be construed as a right to equal condition, not as a right to occupy the same places or to utilize the same institutions as Whites. According to the Supreme Court in its Plessy decision, African Americans were not being denied equal protection to the extent that the Black facilities were (supposedly) equal to the White facilities. Du Boiss push for the recognition and enforcement of rights in the Address both continued and extended the points that he put forward in other published works. For example, in The Philadelphia Negro Du Bois had expressed deep concern over the denial of basic rights to Black Philadelphians (Du Bois 1899a). He also emphasized the individual moral and cultural developments that he deemed necessary for African Americans to be worthy U.S. citizens (Schfer 2001). In 1903 he argued forcefully for political and civil rights in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). In 1905 Du Bois and William Trotter wrote the Declaration of Principles for the first Niagara Movement meeting (Du Bois and Trotter 1905). In both the Declaration and the ATTC the cultural/moral dimensions were paramount, including personal hard work and family well-being. Yet both the Declaration and the Address stressed, indeed demanded, more of a political solution than did The Philadelphia Negro, probably because the latter in Du Boiss own view was a more neutral social-scientific work. According to Du Bois, the need to protect the rights of African Americans and others in the numerical minority was a necessity because of the way that U.S. democracy was practiced. In a later work Du Bois wrote of the often extreme reverence for majorities in American politics (Du Bois 1920). He criticized the arrogance of what he called the divine right of majorities: those in the majority, which we could reasonably infer were Whites, did not need to listen to those in the minority (Du Bois 1920: Ch. VI). He argued that some groups could not become a majority, including pointedly, African Americans and, in the era before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, women in general. Such demographic groups thereby faced difficult challenges when seeking to obtain equal opportunities or to express their political voices. Majority rule without protection for the rights of numerical minorities only made a sham of U.S. democracy. The Address conveyed a multidimensional understanding of rights: rights were constitutive of humans per se; rights secured the personal expression of individual citizens; and rights justified the protection of citizens from the oppression of others, including any oppression from governmental units, like states. Crucially, the ATTC was to challenge, via an implicit spatial vocabulary, the geography of citizenship


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derived from the Fourteenth Amendment and its interpretation via the Plessy case. Although the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship in a way that constituted it in national terms, the Supreme Courts ruling in Plessy allowed the states to define and even to delimit the practical, day-to-day application of citizenship on matters of where citizens were permitted to be. As can be readily observed, Du Bois in the ATTC did not incorporate gender in his treatment of citizenship and its rights (Fletcher 2006; Keiter 2006; Schecter 2001: 132 133). Overall, Du Bois is acknowledged for his support for womens suffrage and higher education. Yet his pro-feminism on certain issues did not preclude Du Boiss use of what has been called his masculinist bias (James 1996). Some scholars argue that Du Bois often conceptualized African American women as passive and in need of rescue by Black men (e.g., Carby 2000). A case in point is his 1906 Address to the Country. As indicated above, women participated in the Niagara Movement but were limited in their leadership roles within the entire organization itself. Within the text of the ATTC, Du Bois exemplified a masculinist bias, very noticeably in the scope of what the exercise of rights would protect (e.g., manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters). The implication of the ATTC within the historical context of early 20th Century America is that women were not fully agentic citizens like men. Womens concerns and experiences were less valuable than those of men (Fletcher 2006). Consequently, such a diminution of women tended to privilege men in the roles of citizens. This ultimately points to a major contradiction within the idea of rights as spatially delineated by the ATTC. The spatial dimensions of rights, as implied within the Address, pose three questions. (A) Was the spatial scope, or scale, for the practice of political rights to be national or subnational? (B) Was there a particular governmental branch (or branches) that was best suited to secure rights? Examining those questions in the following sections will raise the debate over whether a state or the national government is a more appropriate territorial unit for protecting citizens rights. The third question asks: (C) What are the consequences of the masculinist biases in the ATTC as they relate to a critical spatiality of rights, most specifically to a politics of scale? Examining that question will illustrate the extent of the emancipatory potential in the Niagara Movement itself. The Politics of Scale in the Address to the Country The Address was a militant document. The securing of rights would require a political movement and a specific strategy, specifically a politics of scale to combat the discriminatory spatial structures of White supremacism. Du Bois in the ATTC supplied pertinent examples of oppressive spatial structures that arose from White supremacism, including segregated public transportation; discriminatory access and use of public spaces; and segregated and decrepit educational facilities (Du Bois 1906a: 368). Those spatial structures involved the how by which the effects of un/ official discrimination came to be articulated in particular places. Such effects entailed the segregation of people and activities into certain areas as well as the expectation of certain behaviors in interpersonal settings (Johnson 1944). By analyzing spatial structures created via socio-political practices and discourses we

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can better understand how social power and inequalities persist over time regardless of whether the policies were legitimated via authoritative political processes. Scale conceptualizes how we make sense of multiple social processes as they are articulated spatially for the individual, community, national state, global region, and the world itself. Scale does not refer to discrete layers nested together (Howitt 2002). Rather, the scales at which individuals, communities, countries, etc. experience social processes, and by which they as agents relate to each other, are interconnected dynamically. Scale is produced via social struggles over how to resolve societal problems (Herod 1991). The production of scale implicates a politics of scale. In the work of E.E. Schattschneider (1975) the places where a group gained resources and allies are intertwined with how a group conceived and publicized the nature of a social issue. A group with more local support or resources might seek to narrow the scope of conflict, as Schattschneider termed it, to subnational areas, and thereby cast an issue as more local in scale. A contending group, perhaps with fewer local resources, might wish to broaden the scope of conflict so as to incorporate actors and governmental institutions at the national level. Crucially, there is no natural scale no local, state, national, or international levelpre-given in the nature of an issue. Rather, struggles between groups define, and thereby fundamentally constitute, the scale of the issue being contested. Du Bois was advocating a politics of scale when he demanded that the national legislature secure the rights of African Americans. The Address conveyed an implicit politics of scale in at least two ways: (a) as an understanding of where rights were to be secured within a political structure; and (b) as a strategy of a political movement. The politics of scale articulated in the ATTC consisted of an expansion of the scope of conflict as a political strategy as well as an assertion that the national government was the level at which rights were to be protected. Because natural rights in U.S. political thought were considered pre-political, governments did not confer them. Nevertheless, following the social contract tradition, governments in general were intended to protect the rights from violation. Many early American political debates revolved around the question of which unit of government was to secure those rights. In an American context this pitted subnational units like states against the national government. Those debates posed a central question. Was there a natural governmental level that best secured the natural and positive rights? To phrase it differently, did a particular government unit or configuration of units help to secure rights? During the ratification period for the U.S. Constitution the so-called antiFederalists engaged in a vigorous debate with the Federalists in the burgeoning public sphere of the new country. Federalists, who supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, argued for the necessity of a national government that could protect the country from foreign attack and domestic turmoil, and that could foster the development of a national economy (Federalist Papers 1987: Nrs. 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 41; see also McDonald 1985). The anti-Federalists, on the contrary, expressed deep concerns that the authority of the national government, as specified in or construed from the proposed Constitution, could lead to tyranny (Main 1974). The Anti-Federalists typically believed that communities and states were the protectors of rights and the ways of life within those subnational units. They believed that more localized governments


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were the best promoters of personal rights and accordingly were the best guardians against an overbearing national government. For the anti-Federalists the larger the extent of a territory, the more distant was the government from the citizens, both physically and emotionally, and thereby the more likely such a national government could become tyrannical (e.g., Agrippa 1787: 235; Brutus 1787: 114). As one anti-Federalist, using the pseudonym of the Federal Farmer, wrote: The state governments will exist, with all their governors, senators, representatives, officers and expences [sic]; in these will be nineteentwentieths of the representatives of the people; they will have a near connection, and their members an immediate intercourse with the people; and the probability is, that the state governments will possess the confidence of the people, and be considered generally as their immediate guardians. (Federal Farmer 1787: 412) Interestingly, the Federalists tended to agree with their foes on the importance of communities and states to the people themselves: people have natural attachments to state governments rather than to a national government (Federalist Paper 1987: Nr. 46; also see Nr. 17). They emphasized that the U.S. Constitution would safeguard vital rights via establishing the correct balance between state and national governmental levels. The Federalist Papers also indicated that distance between the national government and the state governments and localities would induce vigilance on the part of all concerned (Federalist Paper 1987: Nr. 84). The national government could protect liberties and rights by protecting states from foreign invasion and from domestic unrest, while the state governments would represent and secure the rights of those within their borders. The anti-Federalists remained skeptical (e.g., Brutus 1787: 116; Federal Farmer 1787: 41; also see R. H. Lee 1914: 487; 5079). Despite Federalist arguments against a listing of rights (Federalist Paper 1987: Nr. 84), a compromise was struck in order to ensure the passage of the Constitution. A set of amendments known as the Bill of Rights was eventually passed to protect individuals from a potentially oppressive national government. The compromises represented by the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights, however, did not preclude later controversies. In effect, a scale politics of rights has characterized the debates. The appropriate scale of natural and positive rights was neither self-evident nor pre-given. It was not to be found in the extent or size of the territory. Rather, the particular institutional configurations of federalism that were created over the course of U.S. history emerged via the struggles between contending groups, such as between the Federalists and anti-Federalists, and still later, between states rights advocates of the mid-19th and mid-20th Centuries and their opponents in the civil rights movements. Views on states rights have varied over time but they are predicated in general on the Tenth Amendment, which reserves power to the states or to the people. Supporters of states rights typically have considered that the U.S. Constitution was a compact between states to form a new country and national government (Calhoun 1831). Accordingly, the Constitution was not a compact among or between individuals within the whole of the United States. The states were the primary actors ostensibly securing the rights of those dwelling within their respective

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borders. Historically, Americans wielding the weapon of states rights have used it to defend against a national government that they believed had overreached its constitutional authority. States rights became a rallying cry on issues of importance to the antebellum South, including tariffs and slavery. John C. Calhoun sought to provide philosophical support for the pre-Civil War South. Calhoun was concerned that the interests of a numerical minority could conflict with numerically larger states in the national political arenas. For Calhoun Southern Whites were a numerical minority which often clashed with Northern politicians in Washington. Calhoun proposed nullification of national policies by Southern states who would interpose themselves between their citizens and the national government (Calhoun 1851). Calhouns solution did not materialize and ultimately the antebellum South decided that secession from the Union was the course of action to follow (Hofstadter 1989; von Holst 1892). During the civil rights era of the 20th Century, the issue of states rights came to the fore when and where Whites considered that the conventional racial order was being transgressed. In reaction to national government actions and the activism of numerous civil rights groups, much support for the old order was expressed. To put it more strongly, the states rights advocates responded quite vigorously and sometimes violently in their opposition to equal rights and societal opportunities for African Americans. In addition to the extralegal actions of White Citizens Councils, racist law enforcement officers, and the night riders of the KKK, those opposing civil rights used a variety of political and legal devices in their attempt to define rights, and thereby to pursue a scalar politics, in terms favorable to the subnational units. Legal means included state-level litigation that opposed desegregation in public schools and public accommodations. There were also pronouncements by Southern state and national politicians on the alleged unconstitutionality of various national policies or legal decisions. For example, the Southern Manifesto was issued in 1956 by several Southern U.S. Senators to oppose the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education (Southern Manifesto 1956). Also, President Kennedys proposed civil rights bill was attacked on constitutional grounds, such as by a Virginia anti-civil rights organization in 1963 (Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government 1963). Printed materials widely distributed across the South often depicted the civil rights groups as outside agitators and the national government as an invading force seeking to overturn both the U.S. Constitution and Southern heritage. During electoral races many Southern politicians at all levels of government used states rights as a campaign position. Even national politicians, such as President Nixon and his reelection strategy of 1972, incorporated themes from the South in order to woo White voters. In those many examples, the states rights proponents argued that rights and interests were grounded in the communities of the state and should not be controlled or attacked by those from outside the states or from Washington, D.C. itself. In the Address to the Country Du Bois demanded that Congress resolve many of the abiding forms of racial discrimination (Du Bois 1906a: 368). For Du Bois and the other members of the Niagara Movement, the state governments and hegemonic White communities were not willing to solve the countrys race problems in the political terms deemed necessary to achieve racial justice. The physical proximity of the people of the state to the subnational government was no guarantee of their


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protection, whether for their physical bodies or for their equally important rights. Accordingly, Du Bois had directed the political message of the ATTC at national governmental arenas. The rights of the U.S. Constitution must be secured by the national government, specifically Congress, which presumably possessed the resources to bring a recalcitrant White supremacism under some sort of control. Blacks were citizens and citizenship was not essentially grounded in a state; rather, citizens were first and foremost members of the national political community, even if also residents of a particular state. Therefore, the ATTC advocated and promoted a scalar politics of rights, interpreting rights in ways which removed states and local governments from definingindeed, diminishingthem. The nationalizing strategy of the Niagara Movement and its Address to the Country was not without some risk of failure. Heretofore many politicians and officials in national governmental institutions, like the U.S. Supreme Court and the presidency, had not been stalwart supporters of civil rights. The Supreme Court over time had supported numerous laws that harmed African Americans (e.g., the Dred Scott and Plessy cases, among other cases; Kluger 1976). Addressing Congress was necessary from a strategic perspective because the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided that separate public transportation facilities were constitutionally equal. As a consequence, only the national legislature could tackle the disfranchisement of African Americans and in principle could craft legislation that would render Jim Crow laws illegal (see Giles v. Harris in 1903). Moreover, U.S. Presidents had not been strong defenders of African American political and civil rights, often being more willing to provide patronage jobs for Blacks than to stand up for policies supporting their rights. Accordingly, Du Bois needed to convince Congress to take up the case and therefore he cast the issue of rights as national in scope. Yet did Congress have the political will? Over time, Congress has generated a mixed record of support for civil rights. Congress on occasion promoted pro-civil rights Constitutional amendments (especially post-Civil War), but it also had passed legislation like the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. At the end of the Reconstruction era Southern Democrats began to occupy crucial Congressional positions from which to hinder civil rights legislation. Nevertheless, short of armed revolution or the creation of separatist enclaves, the legislative arenas of the national government offered, as the ATTC suggested, some chance of success because those arenas could directly assault racial discrimination. The Significance of Place in the Address to the Country The concept of place further expresses the spatiality of politics implicit within the Address. Place is intimately related to space in so far as particular spots, locations, or areas within a larger tapestry of space can be discerned, not only by geographers but also by non-geographers (Tuan 1977). Places embrace the meaningfulness of life for individuals, groups, communities, societies, polities, and arguably for all of humanity. Du Bois stressed two dimensions of place in the ATTC. First, place was where quotidian life occurred; places embodied the richness and complexity of human experiences and aspirations. Second, historically important activities and people were commemorated in the spots where significant events had occurred. In both senses, the ATTC emphasized the meaningfulness of place.

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The first dimension of place in the Address involved the significance of everyday places for people. Du Bois characterized quotidian life in terms of the dignity that anyone had a right to expect in the normal conduct of ones daily activities, especially in public spaces and public accommodations (Du Bois 1906a: 368). The briefness of this critique in the ATTC was amplified in other works: e.g., Du Boiss personal experiences in public spaces were recounted in The Souls of Black Folk, such as when his accidental bump into a White woman on a city street prompted her to respond with a racially charged tirade (1903). The second dimension of place in the Address focused on the symbolism of place. Indeed, the second meeting of the Niagara Movement in 1906 was intentionally held in an historic spot, Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry well illustrated the importance of place for the social struggles that sought to emancipate the enslaved. It was there that John Brown the abolitionist planned to strike both symbolic and practical blows against slavery. Abolitionist words were to be matched with abolitionist force: mortal men were inspired to act by religious principles of divinely ordained human freedom. Leading an interracial group of men, Brown wished to gather weapons from the U.S. arsenal and then to conduct a guerilla-style war against slave-owners. The geographical position of Harpers Ferry in the farreaching mountain chain would allow Brown and his forces to penetrate into the heartland of the slave-holding South (Du Bois 1909). John Brown and his men failed in their attempt, yet Harpers Ferry became a hallowed place symbolizing for many the beginning of the end of slavery (Quarles 2001). Harpers Ferry in later decades became a place of pilgrimage for those supporting racial justice; the Niagara Movements 1906 meeting hence was only one of many commemorations held in that small city, including one by Frederick Douglass (Douglass 1881). During the course of the 1906 Niagara Movement meeting the participants took an early morning walk fraught with emotional and political import (Lewis 1993). They went to the site of the physically relocated fire house, the building where Brown had made his last stand. Approaching it, they took off their shoes and circled the building. In the Address Du Bois described the meaning of that morning walk: here on the scene of John Browns martyrdom we reconsecrate ourselves, our honor, our property to the final emancipation of the race which John Brown died to make free (Du Bois 1906a: 369). On this rock we have planted our banners (Du Bois 1906a: 369). The inspiring commemoration also included powerful speeches delivered later in the day by Du Bois and by Reverdy Ransom, whose The Spirit of John Brown was particularly noteworthy (Barber 1906: 408; Ransom 1906; also see Quarles 2001: Ch. 1). The literal and figurative invocation of place connects with the politics of scale, for humans are implicated in more than one geographical scale. We are embodied beings and thereby create and recreate a bodily scale through our daily activities. With regards to Harpers Ferry, one relatively small area encapsulates the heart of a vigorous and unrelenting commitment for abolition, support of which extended to other places, North and South, within the U.S.A. As such, a specific area becomes interwoven with other places, all of which are unified behind an ideal of basic human rights that sought to embrace the whole of the country with its practice. From the perspective of the Address, if rights were to mean anything, and if rights were to be exercised at local or statewide levels, then they needed to be


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framed in national terms and safeguarded nationally. Here, place as particularity the individual in a specific localewas theoretically and philosophically integrated with scale. Within the context of U.S. race relations the rights of an individual person in a particular place were meaningless unless rights were secured by nationally based laws to protect whole categories of specific places, like public transportation and public accommodations. The ATTC therefore importantly connected scale and place in terms of rights within the space of the entire United States. In keeping with the symbolism of place and the nationalizing scalar politics of citizenship, the 1906 Niagara Movement meeting was remembered on its centennial. Seemingly in accord with the national/local orientation of the original meeting, the U.S. National Park Services Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in cooperation with the local Harpers Ferry Historical Association sponsored a series of commemorative events in August 2006. Local citizens and visitors, academics and interested lay persons, and Blacks, other persons of color, and Whites attended numerous activities that offered music, crafts, historical lectures, and scholarly symposiaall intended to present the enduring import of the Niagara Movement and its democratic values in the historic place that had inspired the original participants (Harpers Ferry Centennial Commemoration 2006).

Discussion: Caveats to Du Boiss Politics of Scale In the Address to the Country Du Bois mixed the politics of scale with his politics of place in order to tackle the unjust spatial structures of racial oppression and Jim Crow. In general, the spatiality of politics has been an important part of social protests in the U.S.A. For the ATTC, the politics of scale was evidence in the attempts to bypass the state governments. Because various state governments were reluctant to make changes, then Congress as a national governmental arena would be a major focus for the Niagara Movement. This section raises three caveats to the nationalizing strategy of the ATTCs politics of scale: (a) the practical effects of the geographically varied constituencies of the Congresspersons; (b) the practical effects of rural-to-urban migration; and (c) the theoretical lacuna resulting from the ATTCs masculinist biases with regard to the spatial structures of gender oppression. Through a direct call for Congress to act Du Boiss demands in the Address encountered a serious limitation to the politics of scale within the American polity: the territorial units in which politicians run for office were spatially differentiated. Such is part of the U.S. governments separation of powers that divided overall authority into three main branches. In order to protect against any single branch from becoming too powerful each shared some of the responsibilities for governance, thereby providing both oversight and in principle a way to counterbalance the other branches (Federalist Papers 1987: Nr. 51). Congress was authorized to legislate; the president to execute the laws; and the Supreme Court (in the aftermath of the Marbury v. Madison case) to decide the constitutionality of governmental policies. Crucially for this institutional configuration, the Congress and the presidency were to be based on different constituencies with varying geographical expressions (Federalist Papers 1987: Nrs. 10, 39, 60). U.S. Senators spanned their state, while

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Representatives were located in districts within the state. Although Presidents in principle encompassed the entire nation, the Electoral College that directly voted on the President was composed of Electors from the individual states. It was assumed in the Federalist Papers that all such constituencies were rooted in particular places, and that any dangerous commonality of purpose (e.g., to gain control over government) would be undermined by divergent self-interests in the various areas of the country (Federalist Papers 1987: Nrs. 10, 37, 51, 60; also see John Dickinson 1801: Letter VII, 141142). Interests were assumed to be so diverse across so large an area as the United States that, in the words of Federalist Paper Nr. 51, an unjust combination of a majority of the whole [was] improbable, if not impracticable (see James Madison 1840: 806 for his comments on 6 June 1787). According to the Federalists, to the extent that population demographics change, then presumably the interests of constituencies would change, and thereby political issues might also change. The Federalists held that the different levels of government, in addition to the particular interests of different regions, would make it difficult to dominate the Congress and thereby difficult to dominate the entire country (Lowi 1984). Danger could arise if a commonality of interest was found or created. A region or even the whole country then might be gripped, as the Federalists indicated, by the mischiefs of faction (Federalist Papers 1987: Nr. 10), or as the anti-Federalists strongly argued, by the so-called tyrannies of the majority. Although the Address was not explicit about the political-geographical dimensions of the U.S.A., I believe that Du Bois well understood the spatial differentiation of constituencies within the overall American polity. The interests of different constituencies may vary in particulars, but what presumably would unite them would be an appeal to that which all held in common, especially with regard to the rights of Americans. In that way, Du Bois could try to persuade the entire country as well as Congress to act in the interests of all Americans, and by doing so, also incorporate African Americans in the countrys political life. In his attempt to gain the widest possible support in as many areas of the country as possible, Du Bois framed the words and symbolism of the Address to raise issues and concerns that the Whites of the era, especially White men, probably would find compelling. Implicitly he asked whether White men would suffer to have their votes removed or their families put in jeopardy. Rights therefore were not abstractions debated by philosophers, but were the stuff of flesh-and-blood people. The ATTC conveyed the underlying message evocatively: African Americans were no different from those of other races in the love for their families and in the desire to be honest, hard-working citizens. That Du Boiss words in the Address did not fully convince Whites will come as no surprise. Indeed, the difficulties in achieving equality of rights have been evident in the long history of struggles from 1619 onwards. The struggles not only had to contend with enduring White supremacism, but also with particular political institutional configurations. Under conditions of widespread racial oppression and animosity, the federalist arrangement of state and national governments, as well as the spatially differentiated constituencies of elected officials within national and subnational governments, did not conduce easily or quickly to the enforcement of civil and political rights. Entrenched interests favoring segregation and related policies could and did hinder efforts at reform.


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Because of the many institutional obstructions, support for political changes would seem to require a more broadly based movement across the U.S.A. In hindsight one can examine whether the Niagara Movement had a sufficiently strong base of support that could have allowed a nationalizing politics of scale to be successful. The Movements membership was composed primarily of elites: educated, middle-class African Americans, often professionals, who would stand their ground against the White elites in Washington, D.C. and in the state houses around the country. The Movements highest leadership ranks were confined to elite males. One could argue that the Niagara Movements base of support was not broad enough to sustain a nationwide movement (Rudwick 1957: 199). Certainly, the Movement cooperated with an interracial organization called the Constitution League, which increased their reach and resource base (although there was some overlap of membership: Rudwick 1957: 190). Nonetheless, membership in the Niagara Movement and in attendance at its annual and other special meetings fluctuated. The numbers varied over time: from a reported 170 members in 1906 (Du Bois 1906b: 44) to nearly 400 members recorded in 1908 (Niagara Movement 1908), and from attendance at Thanksgiving Day events sponsored by the Movement listed as 10,000 (Du Bois 1906b: 44) to attendance at the third annual meeting measured at about 800 (Lewis 1993: 339) to later annual meetings with much fewer in attendance (Lewis 1993: 375). The fluctuations in membership and attendance were understandable because large attendance at events did not necessarily bespeak similar levels of support for the sponsoring organization itself. Ultimately, the Niagara Movement had difficulties gaining and maintaining a wide grass-roots base that could cut across the spatially differentiated constituencies of the governmental branches. In the decades following the Niagara Movements demise, the struggles over civil rights increasingly intensified. A national push for governmental action on rights historically has been conjoined with more widespread, localized actions that reinforced efforts in the national institutional arenas. Here arises the second caveat to Du Boiss nationalizing strategy posed in the ATTC: the practical effects of African American internal migration. Du Bois was quite aware of the rural-to-urban movements of Blacks from the South to the North (e.g., 1899a; 1901). Although not explicitly examined in the ATTC, the rural-to-urban migrations would come to characterize one avenue for national political changes. A politics of scale should take into account the ways that the spatial concentration of African Americans into particular places, like cities, could influence national politics (Rose 1971), or to use the language of this essay, could influence a nationalizing politics of scale on issues of civil and political rights. From roughly the 1930s onwards local politics yielded one way that slowly pressured national political arenas: African Americans began to be elected for Congressional political offices for the first time since the last one was elected in 1901 (U.S. Congress 2008: 234239). As a vital lesson for a nationalizing scalar politics, local conditions and political institutions can be influential at a national level, once political rights are enforced. Indeed, the ATTC had not examined the political effects of a spatial concentration of Blacks in cities. But, in fairness to Du Bois, quite possibly the lack of acknowledgment within the Address arose because of the ongoing repression of the franchise by various states (U.S. Congress 2008: 154) and because of the mercenary aspects of party machine politics in some cities (Du Bois 1899a: Sec.55).

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Over the course of the 20th Century numerous local activities occurred contemporaneously with the campaigns to pass national legislation and with the legal actions in the state or federal judiciaries. Such local activities were many and varied, such as voter registration drives to empower the disfranchised, literacy campaigns to broaden the intellectual horizons, Freedom Rides to challenge segregated bus stations, sit-ins to confront segregated lunch counters, and community organizations to provide food and health care (Branch 1999; Draper 1970; Newton 1974; Powledge 1991; Ture and Hamilton 1992). Country-spanning organizations, like the Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP, and the National Urban League pursued both nationally oriented legal and political strategies as well as more localized actions in the states and communities. The grassroots efforts of such varied activists as Ella Jo Baker, James Farmer, Fanny Lou Hamer, Floyd McKissick, James Meredith, Bob Moses, Rosa Parks, and Robert F. Williams were synergistically coupled with the efforts of organizations like the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee among others. Thus, for the U.S. civil rights movement as a whole a politics of scale has historically entailed multi-scale strategies from a plethora of sometimes independent, sometimes allied organizations. The formal institutions of government did not necessarily occupy the roles that Du Bois had envisioned or implied in the Address. Repeated attempts to craft civil rights legislation failed in the Congressional sessions convened throughout the first half of the 20th Century (Mann 2007). However, Congress ultimately did come to pass the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968, as well as the Voting Rights Acts of 1965. The U.S. court system eventually became a vital arena for fostering civil rights and freedoms for African Americans. Various litigation efforts in state or federal district courts were used by civil rights organizations to reach the national judicial institution of the Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court decided various cases that chipped slowly away at the edifice of White supremacism in public and commercial spaces, ranging from Sweatt v. Painter (1950), which invalidated segregated law schools to Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which dismantled segregated public schools, to Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which held that restrictive covenants on housing could not be legally enforced by state courts, to Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), which overturned segregated public accommodations, thereby upholding portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Interestingly, the presidencya national institution not directly addressed in the ATTCbecame a crucial, often hesitant, weapon in the nationalization of the civil rights agenda. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower provided important steps along the roads leading to civil rights. President John Kennedy typically pursued a behind-the-scenes and sometimes reluctant approach to promoting civil and political rights (Branch 1989, 1999). After Kennedys assassination, President Lyndon Johnson shepherded various civil rights bills through Congress, helping them to become the laws of the land (Mann 2007; Schulman 1995). The occupant of the White House hence can nationalize an issue by embodying the concerns of the American public and the ethos of American democracy. Yet for all of the potential to unify the country presidents must be politically determined to act. As regards the third caveat to Du Boiss politics of scale, the masculinist biases of the Address did not challenge the spatial structures of gender oppression because


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the ATTC did not emphasize women as conscious, political agents and because the ATTC did not attack directly the public/private dichotomy that historically has typified womens roles in U.S. society. Perhaps this reflected some measure of compromise with fellow Niagarite Trotter and others who held anti-feminist views. Nonetheless, Du Bois himself used masculinist language similar to the ATTC in various other writings (Carby 2000). Accordingly, the ATTC tended to reinforce the construction of gender on scales that limited women to (solely or perhaps predominantly) to private, domestic spheres. Some might argue that various African American women themselves often considered the home to be a crucial place to promote racial uplift (e.g., see Cooper 1892). Yet for intellectuals and activists like Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B. WellsBarnett the world outside the home proved a useful battleground for their efforts to combat racial and gender oppression. Notwithstanding such national and international activities by Black women, the public/private split was used not merely to reinforce the roles women played in the private realm, but also to hinder them from occupying other roles in the public sphere, including voting, holding elected office, etc. (McDowell 1999: 73). The point to note as regards the scalar politics espoused by the ATTC is that by failing to address gender issues the ATTC provided only partial, albeit important, support for racial uplift and social justice (Fletcher 2006; Keiter 2006; Schecter 2001). Hence, by omitting gender aspects in a politics of scale, the ATTC and the Niagara Movement in general were limited in their emancipatory potential to liberate and empower oppressed African American men and women. For the elder Du Bois the political successes of the modern civil rights movement were yet to come. By the 1930s his disillusionment with the effectiveness of a nationalizing politics of scale resulted in writings like A Negro Nation Within the Nation (1935). In keeping with the more explicit, rather unorthodox socialistic perspective of his later years, Du Bois advocated that Blacks self-segregate into democratically controlled economic cooperatives. Gone was a politics of scale that focused on U.S. national institutions; in its stead Du Bois promoted a different scalar politics, one oriented to fostering democracy and racial uplift within African American communities across the country.

Remarks in Closing The Address to the Country helped to illuminate a paradox in the application of rights within U.S. history. For political rights to be exercised at state and local levels, the rights of U.S. citizens needed to be mutually constituted and secured at the national level. The restrictions that subnational governments placed on citizens, and indeed on the very definition of who was a citizen, demanded that a conception of rights be framed in national terms. The perseverance of the womens movements and their varied successes like suffrage also has illustrated that the struggle for gender rights incorporated a national dimension. After the mighty efforts of those committed to promoting civil and political rights, some of the goals sought in the Address to the Country much later became the law of the land, such as an end to de jure segregation, even if there has been no end to the negative effects of de facto, or structural, discrimination. The three branches of the

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U.S. national government became crucial institutional arenas for myriad struggles. No one governmental arena was solely or best suited for protecting political rights. Each of the branches played a role because each had the opportunity to promote racial justice at particular historical junctures. Each branch, following its own procedural ways and institutional will, reinforced the idea that civil and political rights were national in scope and that citizenship fundamentally was constituted in national terms. The Address was a manifesto speaking to those committed to the ideals of Du Bois and others, as well as a call to open-minded Americans of all races. Its definition of citizens rights as national in scale and its support for a nationalizing strategy of political action will be remembered as vital to the struggles for furthering democracy in America. Likewise, its lacunae on the issues of gender and womens rights should inspire us to critically scrutinize any reasons offered as to why some might be excluded from the equal protection of the laws and from a full social and political participation in our American commonwealth.
Acknowledgments I appreciated the useful suggestions made by Dr. Anthony J. Lemelle, Jr. and the anonymous reviewers. I also wish to thank Dr. Mona Basta for her helpful comments on the draft manuscript.

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