Jim Crow: Where and When?

Today I worked my way through the Richmond Daily-Dispatch looking for accounts of Confederate military executions when I came across this little item from February 17, 1865:

The negroes not to ride in the Philadelphia street cars.

–The Philadelphia Ledger contains the following account of the failure of the first regular effort to allow “colored” citizens to ride with whites in the street cars:

The Fifth and Sixth Streets-Railroad Company, with a view of testing how far public opinion desired, and would sanction, the carrying of colored passengers in the city railroad cars, four weeks ago passed an order removing all restrictions to passengers on account of color. The experiment has not been a successful one, and the company has been compelled to impose the restriction again, as the following [ annoucement ] of theirs show:

“At a meeting of the Board of Directors, held on the 6th instant, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

“Whereas, the Frankford and Southwark Passenger Railroad Company have been carrying colored passengers, without restriction, for the last four weeks, and the experiment has resulted in a serious prejudice to the company, arising from hostility to the measure on the part of the patrons of the road, and a want of sympathy on the part of other similar companies; and whereas, the directors, whatever their private views may be, cannot consistently jeopardize the pecuniary interests of the stockholders; therefore.

“Resolved, That the order admitting colored persons be rescinded from and after the 10th instant, except on special cars, to be appropriated.

“Resolved, That every fifth car be appropriated for colored passengers.”

One difficulty with the railroad companies is, that there are not enough colored persons disposed or able to ride in cars to make up for the loss
sustained by white customers refusing to ride with the colored persons, and it is not to be expected that business companies will sacrifice their pecuniary interests to carry out a political or social principle.

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