Cover image for Color-blind justice : Albion Tourgée and the quest for racial equality from the Civil War to Plessy v. Ferguson
Color-blind justice : Albion Tourgée and the quest for racial equality from the Civil War to Plessy v. Ferguson
Elliott, Mark, 1969 September 23-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2006]

Physical Description:
viii, 388 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
pt. I. The color-blind crusade. Judge Tourgée and the radical Civil War -- pt. II. The radical advance. The making of a radical individualist in Ohio's Western Reserve ; Citizen-soldier: manhood, and the meaning of liberty ; A radical Yankee in the Reconstruction South ; The unfinished revolution -- pt. III. The counterrevolution. The politics of remembering Reconstruction ; Radical individualism in the Gilded Age ; Beginning the Civil Rights Movement ; The rejection of color-blind citizenship: Plessy v. Ferguson ; The fate of color-blind citizenship.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3088 .E55 2006 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Civil War officer, Reconstruction "carpetbagger," best-selling novelist, and relentless champion of equal rights, Albion Tourgee battled his entire life for racial justice. Now, in this engaging biography, Mark Elliott offers an insightful portrait of a fearless lawyer, jurist, and writer, who fought for equality long after most Americans had abandoned the ideals of Reconstruction. Elliott provides a fascinating account of Tourgee's life, from his childhood in the Western Reserve region of Ohio (then a hotbed of abolitionism), to his years as a North Carolina judge during Reconstruction, to his memorable role as lead plaintiff's counsel in the landmark Supreme Court casePlessy v. Ferguson. Tourgee's brief coined the phrase that justice should be "color-blind," and his career was one long campaign to made good on that belief. A redoubtable lawyer and an accomplished jurist, Tourgee wrote fifteen political novels, eight books of historical and social criticism, andseveral hundred newspaper and magazine articles that all told represent a mountain of dissent against the prevailing tide of racial oppression. Through the lens of Tourgee's life, Elliott illuminates the war of ideas about race that raged through the United States in the nineteenth century, from the heated debate over slavery before the Civil War, through the conflict over aid to freedmen during Reconstruction, to the backlashtoward the end of the century, when Tourgee saw his country retreat from the goals of equality and freedom and utterly repudiate the work of Reconstruction. A poignant and inspiring study in courage and conviction, Color Blind Justice offers us an unforgettable portrayal of Albion Tourgee and the principles to which he dedicated his life.

Author Notes

Mark Elliott is Associate Professor of History at Wagner College.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A seminal but nearly forgotten figure in the American Civil Rights movement receives his due in this richly detailed biography by Elliot, history professor at Warner College. The Ohio-born Tourgee (pronounced Toor-zhay) served in the Union Army during the Civil War, studied law and found his life's calling in North Carolina during Reconstruction. African-Americans and civil rights advocates hailed him as a dedicated champion of the political, legal and economic rights of former slaves, while many southern whites called him a Yankee carpetbagger. Later, Tourgee (1838-1905) produced 15 novels, eight books of nonfiction, and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles on race and racial injustice. In addition to founding the National Citizen's Rights Association in 1891, he helped write the nation's first antilynching law in Ohio in 1896 and served as lead attorney in the famed Plessy v. Ferguson, the first constitutional challenge to segregation argued before the Supreme Court. (Tourgee coined the phrase "color-blind justice" in his Supreme Court brief in that losing effort.) Elliott goes a long way toward restoring Albion Tourgee's name to a prominent place on the list of American civil rights heroes. 20 b&w photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved