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  • | Letter

    Letter from Claudius Crozet to the President and Directors of Public Works, November 15, 1850

    Claudius Crozet reports on his disagreement with the Tunnel's general contractor.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Claudius Crozet to the Board of Public Works, Reporting the Progress of Work for November, 1853

    Claudius Crozet reports on labor costs and the national labor market as it affects the Blue Ridge tunnel project. He encourages the Board to consider a mixed labor force of white and enslaved black workers as a means to keep both in check.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Claudius Crozet to the Board of Public Works Reporting the Condition of Work, August 2, 1853

    Claudius Crozet explains what he thinks prompted the strike among the Tunnel workers in April 1853 for $1.50 a day wages.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Claudius Crozet to Governor John B. Floyd, November 15, 1850

    The Kelly contract dispute occupied the first year of Claudius Crozet's project to build the Blue Ridge Tunnel. This letter from Kelly to the Governor of Virginia explains the contractor's view of his contract and his disagreement with Claudius Crozet, the chief engineer. Kelly claims his contract was to include the building of some parts of the project, while Crozet let these to another contractor at a much lower price.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Claudius Crozet Reporting the Condition of Work Under his Charge, December 1, 1854

    Commenting on the unreliablity of Irish labor, Claudius Crozet recommends to the Board of Public Works that they hire black enslaved labor instead.

  • | Letter

    Letter from A. J. Rux to E. H. Stokes, February 22, 1861

    In this February 22, 1861 letter from A. J. Rux to E. H. Stokes, Rux describes the sale of a female slave named Harriett for $1,000. He confides to Stokes that he is "ashamed" of the low price he received, but notes that Harriett's "same old complaint" and break out attempts were so frustrating that "I sold her where I don't think we will ever hear from her again."

  • | Book

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

    In these excerpts from her memoir, Harriet Jacobs writes of the segregation and prejudice she faced in the North almost immediately after escaping from slavery.

  • | Newspaper

    In The First-Class Car

    The plight of three African American passengers on a Georgia railcar is recounted in this reprint from the Macon Telegraph.

  • | Newspaper

    Georgia Letter

    The plight of middle- and upper-class African Americans on Georgia railways and in public accommodations is briefly addressed in this report from Savannah, Georgia.

  • | Newspaper

    Fight on Class Law

    The Anti-Separate Coach Committee of Kentucky begins to lobby against the Jim Crow laws recently passed by the state legislature.

  • | Newspaper


    A correspondent of the New York Age reports on an Atlanta Evening Journal article recounting the expulsion of Reverend T. H. Lee from a Georgia Railroad Company coach.

  • | Legal decision

    Excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson dissent

    These excerpts from Justice John Harlan's dissent from the Supreme Court's Plessy v Ferguson decision include scathing counter-arguments to the majority decision that asserted the legality of "separate but equal" facilities.

  • | Legal decision

    Excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson decision

    These excerpts from the Supreme Court's Plessy v Ferguson decision outline primary points of the seven-man decision that asserted the constitutionality of "separate but equal" facilities.

  • | Legal decision

    Draft of Catharine Brown, Evidence Given

    Catharine Brown's case--Case No. 4582--was scheduled to go to trial in October 1868 in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, but was delayed because of various procedural motions by the railroad's attorneys. When these motions were denied, the case was tried over three days in March 1870. The all white jury rendered a verdict of guilty against the railroad company and awarded Brown $1,500 in damages. Then, the defendant railroad attorney's sought an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is their statement of argument, denying that the railroad used violence or made derogatory remarks. Furthermore, in denying Brown's claims, the railroad argued that there were distinctions between through and local passenger types of service, even on the Baltimore and Ohio, and that separate colored cars on local lines were run at the request of black passengers.

  • | Newspaper


    The New York Times reported on its front page the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Catharine Brown's case. The case aroused Republicans to reconsider the intent and purpose of the Congress in the midst of the Civil War because it turned on the railroad's Congressional charter from 1863 which clearly barred any discrimination on the basis of race or color. The railroad's main argument before the Supreme Court rested first on the idea that separate cars were customary, locally sanctioned, and equally accommodated, and second on the specious reasoning that because they carried colored passengers they had not violated the Congressional charter--colored persons were carried, just in a different car. The spirit of the Congress in 1863, the Court decided, suggested otherwise. The decision, however significant and newsworthy, was sorely limited in its application. Only a handful of railroads in the District of Columbia possessed such language in their originating charters.

  • | Newspaper

    Couldn't Ride on the Sleeper

    The ejection of Reverend H. F. Lee from a Georgia railcar is reported.

  • | Contract

    Contract for Negro Slaves, December 23, 1853

    In December 1853, George A. Farrow and David Hansbrough signed a contract with the Blue Ridge Railroad to provide fifty slaves to assist in the construction of the Blue Ridge railroad tunnel.

  • | Photograph

    Contrabands at Cumberland Landing, Virginia, May 1862

    In the Peninsular Campaign, Federal forces encountered thousands former slaves who sought freedom and work in the Union army camps. Even if slaves fled slavery, their status was unclear in the first year of the war. In July 1862 Congress declared such refugees from slavery ?forever and henceforth free.?

  • | Letter

    Claudius Crozet's Monthly Report for December, 1853

    In his report Claudius Crozet explains the high costs of white labor and the difficulties of securing enslaved labor.

  • | Annual report

    Circular to the Bondholders and Creditors of the Southern Railroad Company, of the State of Mississippi

    This September 11, 1865 circular reports on the condition and financial status of the Southern Railroad Company after the Civil War.