One often reads that in 1896 in the case of Plessy versus Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court let stand a Louisiana law, the Separate Car Act, that required white and non-white passengers to ride in separate cars on trains. But what is the story of the political events leading to the passage of that law in 1892 (if 1892 is right)?
Some wild guesses:
- Passenger trains were starting to become big business but earlier they'd played a more minor role in the transportation industry in Louisiana, and so escaped the attention of the legislature. When large numbers of people started using them, some regulation started happening. As I said, a wild guess; I have no idea whether this is true.
- Could it have been a reaction by segregationists against some partial desegregation by some railroads? I can imagine some economic incentives to partial desegregation. Say the tickets on the white car are sold out and some passengers who want to get where they're going don't mind riding in "colored" car if that will accomplish their purpose. Again, a wild guess.