Today is the anniversary of the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868 which guarantees birthright citizenship in the United States.
Passed in both houses of Congress by June 1866 it took more than two years to be ratified by the states. Every former Confederate state opposed its ratification until Congress made it a condition for readmission to the Union and the seating of southern Congressmen. Citizenship for freedmen and women in the South opened the possibility of African American men voting and holding office, something anticipated eagerly by the Republican party, depicted here on the cover of Harper's Weekly as the amendment gained support throughout 1867.
Not everyone, of course, welcomed African American votes, particularly California Democrats who would soon push for the closure of Asian immigration to the state out of fear that the 14th Amendment would make citizens of the children of immigrants. Below is a typical anti-Republican cartoon trading on anxieties about the 1…
I've long admired the Depression era reporting of Joseph Mitchell, as well as his later essays for the New Yorker. The book to read, I suppose, is his Up in the Old Hotel. I have been working my way through a late 1930s collection of pieces entitled My Ears Are Bent which collects his various- probably many unprinted- reports on Prohibition era NYC's underworld.
In a section on sports, Mitchell's clear admiration and affection for the plucky 1920s women boxers is matched only perhaps by his discussion of the performance pushed into burlesque as vaudeville audiences declined during the depression.
In an endearing profile he describes the 1930s career of The Countess, Jeanne Vina La Marr, the first woman in America licensed to fight in New Jersey in the mid1920s. Unable to fight contests without a license in NYC, she instead did exhibition in the city, often fighting other women and men, usually in some vaguely legal connection with the burlesque shows and speakeasies.