Politics of Forgetting

How Oregon forgot to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment

...In 1959, as part of Oregon's centennial celebration, the legislature finally ratified the Fifteenth Amendment.

Ironically, although the article mentioned the 1868 rescission of the Fourteenth Amendment, it did not call on the legislature to remedy the situation, as it had for the Fifteenth Amendment, with reratification..."

Oregon Council for the Humanities

..."By Cheryl A. Brooks

"Americans can be notoriously selective in the exercise of historical memory."--Ralph Ellison

In 1866, Oregon's attempted rescission of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides equal protection to all citizens, received widespread coverage, but its re ratification of the amendment in 1973 was a nonevent.

It was barely mentioned in the press, and it has since been overlooked by most scholars. The decision to re ratify is important because of what was left untold at the time--namely, the story of the state's veiled and troubling history of racial discrimination.

If we are truly to understand what this remarkable event means for Oregon's constitutional past and its future, we must read between the lines, paying close attention to what seems to have been collectively forgotten.

When societies remember and internalize their history, a common understanding of the past can work as a kind of social cement, binding a community together through shared narrative. However, some aspects of the past become inimical to modern notions of a regional or cultural identity. Such aspects of history tend to be overlooked or even suppressed, preventing any true reconciliation with the past. Oregon's failure to face, or even recall, its history with regard to the ratification, rescission, and re ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment reveals a selective amnesia when it comes to matters of race, and not only serves to whitewash the state's history, but also undermines Oregon's role as a constitutional player.

Search for a White Empire

Oregon's racism during the period leading up to statehood was peculiar to its time and place. Hostilities existed between Indians and white settlers; these sometimes erupted in violence. Early legislation made slavery illegal in Oregon, though the institution still existed in parts of the territory.

African American immigrants were officially excluded, but those already present were generally allowed to stay. Many white settlers who traveled west on the Oregon Trail came from the South or border states, such as Ohio and Illinois. Many were nonslaveholding white Southerners and Midwesterners who wished to settle in an area free of racial troubles.

As controversies over slavery intensified during the mid-nineteenth century, white settlers sought to exclude African Americans from their territories. They hoped to avoid racial conflicts, fearing that white people might be overrun if slavery was allowed to expand. Ed.note: The Gold Rush of California

Like activists in the Free Soil party in the West and Midwest, Oregonians' opposition to slavery was motivated largely by antipathy toward blacks, rather than by any sympathy for their plight. Jesse Applegate, leader of an early migration from Missouri to Oregon Territory, recounted the prevailing attitude among his fellow settlers: "Many [poor whites who migrated to Oregon from slave states] hated slavery, but a much larger number of them hated free negroes worse even than slaves." Ed.note: Why did poor whites hate blacks? Because rich whites used there slaves for mining, and poor whites had to work harder.

The Oregon Territory's 1843 Organic Act prohibited slavery but restricted voting and eligibility for political office to "free male descendents of a white man."

In 1844, the territorial Legislative Committee excluded free blacks from Oregon Territory; those who entered or remained were subject to a flogging by the constable. Although the act was repealed by 1845, other racist legislation followed.

A second exclusion bill, in effect from 1849 to 1854, allowed free blacks who lived in the territory to stay, but barred more from entering. One justification for such laws centered around white fears of combined black and Indian hostilities.

In 1850, Samuel Thurston, Oregon's delegate to Congress, wrote, "This is a question of life and death to us in Oregon." He continued, saying, "long and bloody wars would be the fruits of the commingling of the races."

During the early 1850s, questions of slavery and statehood fostered divisive political discussion and debate. Democrats, who were centered in Salem, agitated for admission to the union, with some members insisting that Oregon should join as a slave state.

Whigs, who were centered in Portland, argued that the territory was too sparsely populated and lacked enough taxable property for statehood to be imminently feasible. Some free-state Whigs and Democrats united under the Republican banner. The Democratic Oregon Statesman decried "Black Republicans," while acknowledging that Oregon voters were unlikely to support slavery on "practical" and economic grounds. Ed.note: Why did questions of slavery and statehood foster divisive political discussion and debate? Was it because the West was fertile land? Was it because poor whites emigrated to the West for opportunity's the South couldn't provide? IF slavery was legalized, would rich whites had run to the West with there slaves to control the market there as well? end note.

After three popular votes defeating statehood and numerous setbacks in the territorial legislature, Oregon finally set a course to join the union, convening a constitutional convention in 1857. The issue of slavery was on the table because of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which asserted the slavery option for territories. Popular sovereignty gave Oregonians the right to decide "for ourselves what we will adopt [and] what we will not adopt," wrote Delazon Smith, editor of the Weekly Oregonian. But, he added, "there is about as much danger [of establishing slavery in Oregon] as there is of ... going to the moon."

More prevalent was the desire for black exclusion, along with denial of rights for all people of color.

The constitutional convention in Salem approved articles restricting blacks from military service and from voting.

Another provision granted property rights equal to those of U.S. citizens only to white resident foreigners.

In addition, Chinese people who arrived in Oregon after 1857 were to be prevented from owning real estate or holding or working a mining claim. As one historian put it, the Oregon constitution "was so thoroughly a 'white man's document' that the provision for the establishment of a 'free and white' militia was offered, debated and rejected as unnecessary."

A provision to exclude "free negroes" was seriously considered, with one delegate moving to bar the Chinese as well.

Although this amendment did not pass, many delegates supported it, including Chief Justice George Henry Williams, who urged his colleagues to "consecrate Oregon to the use of the white man, and exclude the negro, Chinaman, and every race of that character."

Eventually,. . . the delegates decided to submit the exclusion issue directly to the electorate, along with a referendum on slavery.

In November 1857, Oregon voters approved the proposed constitution, rejected slavery (by a vote of 7,727 to 2,645), and excluded free blacks and "mulattoes" (by a vote of 8,640 to 1,081).

As one commentator noted, Oregonians had "no relish for the peculiar institution" of slavery, but they desired less to mingle with free blacks because "we were building a new state on virgin ground; its people believed it should encourage only the best elements to come to us."

Although Oregon joined the union in 1859 as the only state ever admitted with a black exclusion clause in its constitution, several Midwestern states also passed exclusion laws or only admitted blacks with certified proof of free status and large bonds guaranteeing good behavior *Ed note. The Black Codes .

But while the policy of exclusion proved futile in places like Illinois, where African Americans rapidly migrated, Oregon's black population grew by fewer than seventy-five individuals between 1850 and 1860.

During the same period, California's black population increased by nearly four thousand.

Nevertheless, Oregon's government continued to harass racial minorities through a series of enactments and official policies.

In 1860 the legislature passed another tax against Chinese miners.

In 1862 it issued a five-dollar annual poll tax on every "negro, chinaman, kanaka [Hawaiian] and mulatto," with a day of roadwork assessed for each half-dollar unpaid.

The legislature also passed an anti miscegenation statute that year, outlawing marriage between a white person and anyone of "one-fourth or more negro blood."

The law stipulated that anyone who performed a prohibited marriage ceremony faced up to one year in prison and a $100 fine. *Ed. note The Black Codes

During the Civil War, the state's political parties realigned their allegiances to the North or South. Eastern and southern Oregon received an influx of white migrants from Missouri, some of whom had deserted the Confederate army and most of whom were pro-slavery Democrats.

Anti-slavery, pro-Union Republicans, Whigs, and Democrats joined forces under the banner of the Union party. Although Unionists supported the North during the war, the party's leaders continued to pass legislation that disparaged and discriminated against free blacks. Advocates of slavery and the Confederacy, with their political clout diminishing, formed underground militias and secret societies.

Ratification and Rescission of the Fourteenth Amendment

After ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, thus outlawing slavery *Ed note. unless convicted of a crime, in 1865--despite strong opposition from Democrats, who argued that neither Oregon nor Southern states had been consulted and that the amendment violated states' rights--in 1866 the legislature was asked to consider ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which would give citizenship to African Americans *Ed note. 1870 Naturalization Act end note., and strengthen federal control over state actions.

Ratification of the amendment became a dominant issue in the nation as America undertook Reconstruction after the Civil War.

The idea of black citizenship and its associated rights, such as voting, education, political participation, and social equality, was horrifying to the vast majority of white Oregonians.

In 1865, the Oregonian opined:
The Negroes as a class possess no capacity of self-government, and the few who are intelligent enough to take part in public affairs are offset by the multitude who don't ... this nation of the white race should well ponder the question before it admits the African, the Mongolian and the Indian to all its privileges.
The Oregon Statesman, in an editorial published the same year, raised the specter of a "war of the races" if citizenship rights were granted to blacks: "If we make the African a citizen, we cannot deny the same right to the Indian or the Mongolian. Then how long would we have peace and prosperity when four races separate, distinct and antagonistic should be at the polls and contend for the control of government?"

In 1866 the Union party was still in control of the Oregon legislature, but Democrats were on the political rise. Twenty-four Unionists held a slim advantage over nineteen Democrats in the House; in the Senate the margin was seventeen to seven. Democrats spoke out forcefully against ratification. Although some senators tried to refer the issue directly to voters, the legislature ratified the Fourteenth Amendment by a close margin--thirteen votes to nine in the Senate and twenty-five to twenty-two in the House.

However, the 1866 session was marred by a dispute over the election of two Unionist members of the House from Grant County. One had been the acting county clerk at the time of his election and had certified himself and his cohort as winners of the House race.

Later, it was decided that the two seats rightfully belonged to Democrats. Two days after the Fourteenth Amendment vote, the two Unionist members, who had voted in favor of ratification, were expelled and replaced by their Democratic challengers. Had these Democrats been present, the vote would have been twenty-four to twenty-three against ratification.

House Democrats clamored that a lawful body had not validly approved the Fourteenth Amendment in Oregon.

Failing to turn the tide of history, the 1866 legislature instead renewed arguments over states' rights and racial equality by debating the topic of interracial marriage, or miscegenation. Their discussion foreshadowed Constitutional arguments that would be made about marriage and states' rights in the century to come and beyond. A broad statute was drafted prohibiting "any white person, male or female, to intermarry with any Negro or Chinese or any person having one-fourth or more Negro or Chinese blood, or any person having more than one-half Kanaka or Indian blood."

After one representative criticized the wording of the bill for not simply prohibiting intermarriages of "all persons not entirely of the same blood," a Democrat from Lane County stated his desire to pass the bill as worded in order to test the binding force of the Fourteenth Amendment in the courts.

The antimiscegenation bill passed as worded, criminalizing marriage between a person who is white and a person who is from several nonwhite racial groups, with violators subject to imprisonment and county clerks charged with inquiring into the racial pedigree of marriage-license applicants.

During the ensuing year, the now-intertwined issues of Fourteenth Amendment ratification and interracial marriage galvanized the electorate in support of the Democrats.

During his 1868 campaign for the U.S. Congress, Democrat Joseph Smith of Marion County played on Oregonians' deep-seated fears, rhetorically asking voters throughout the state: "Do you want your daughter to marry a nigger?" and "Would you allow a nigger to force himself into a seat at church between you and your wife?"

During the 1868 legislative session, Democrats regained the majority and succeeded in bringing a vote to withdraw ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which had already been adopted by Congress.

The resolution to rescind ratification passed both chambers of the Oregon legislature by a combined vote of thirty-nine to twenty-seven.

Instead of viewing the resolution as merely symbolic, its drafters argued that the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment was illegitimate, stating that the amendment had gained ratification by a three-fourths majority of the states only through the machinations of Reconstruction.

Furthermore, the resolution declared, any state had "a right to withdraw its assent to any proposed amendment."

Although six Southern states had ratified the amendment, creating a three-fourths majority, the resolution stated that legislatures of these states at the time of ratification "were created by a military despotism, against the will of the legal voters of the said states, under the reconstruction acts (so-called) of congress, which are usurpations, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void."

Thus, ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment had not validly occurred, and Oregon had the right to withdraw its assent. The resolution went on to discount the Oregon legislature's ratification in 1866 and recount the election dispute in Grant County, ultimately rescinding the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Road to Re ratification

When the Fifteenth Amendment was submitted to the states in 1869, Oregonians were overwhelmingly hostile to the concept of black voting rights, and in 1870, the Oregon legislature opposed ratification by a large margin.

However, by the time the legislature met that year, the Fifteenth Amendment already had been ratified by a three-fourths majority of the states and was the law of the land. With the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment by Congress, Oregon fell firmly on the losing side in the fight to legally deny voting rights to African Americans and, thus, only grudgingly accepted the legitimacy of such rights.

Although the Fifteenth Amendment made it legal for black men to vote, African Americans in Oregon could not necessarily vote freely. Legally they had voting rights, but this "does not reflect the real-life experience of Black people at that time," according to Darrell Millner, one of Oregon's leading scholars of black studies.

African Americans across the state still had to contend with a five-dollar poll tax and intimidation at the ballot box, especially in Oregon's more rural areas.

However, African Americans in Portland enjoyed a degree of relative collective safety, which allowed them some participation in the political process.

Between 1880 and 1920, black political clubs organized in the metropolitan area and lobbied the legislature to repeal antiblack provisions in the state constitution.

After the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified by Congress, Oregon's race-based policies turned increased attention toward the Chinese. Ed. note *Page Act

Enticed West by the mines and railroads, Chinese laborers became the target of violence as anti-Chinese sentiment spread.

By the 1880s, mobs of angry Oregonians were participating in "anti-coolie" riots and engaging in violence against Chinese workers after the state's Chinese population grew rapidly and a nationwide depression caused widespread unemployment.

Anti-Catholic sentiment also was strong, targeting especially the Irish-American working class, though fear of "the papal superstition of Europe" had long been a theme in state politics.

After settling the territory by displacing Indians, excluding blacks, and taking advantage of Chinese laborers, white Protestant Oregonians came to esteem what historian Malcolm Clark calls "nativism."


Clark describes the mindset of the state's "dedicated xenophobe" who is prepared to set off as alien large sections of native-born:
Blacks because of their color, their alleged inferior intellectual capacity and their equally alleged sexual superiority; Indians because they had the temerity to resist the rape of their lands; Orientals because of their skin, their eyes, their customs, their gods; Jews because of their racial and religious exclusiveness; Catholics because they owe allegiance to the Pope of Rome. To the complete bigot any of these, or all of them, are permanently strangers in the land.
Ed.note 1870 Naturalization Act
As the new century dawned, Oregon's nativism carried on, both officially and unofficially. The sweeping ban on interracial marriage stayed on the books. People of color faced limited career opportunities and restricted housing options.

After World War I, the Ku Klux Klan found a stronghold in Oregon, with recruits numbering as high as two hundred thousand. Burning crosses in communities throughout the state, includ- ing Portland and Eugene, the Klan campaigned for the incongruent virtues of public schools, Protestantism, racial purity, and "100 percent Americanism."

During the 1930s and 1940s, unprecedented numbers of African Americans migrated to Portland to work in the shipbuilding trade, increasing the city's black population by 3,000 percent.

The newcomers were greeted by signs proclaiming "Whites Only," housing discrimination, and Klan threats.

Despite the provincial rhetoric that greeted new arrivals and plagued people of color who remained, racial politics in the West contained layers of complexity not found in Eastern states. The historian Quintard Taylor notes that four major communities of color--African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and American Indians--have interacted with whites in different ways throughout the region and have worked "both competitively and cooperatively among themselves." In post-World War II Oregon, such interactions helped to turn the tide away from official endorsement of institutionalized racism.

In the 1950s the marriage statute again became a fulcrum for discussion about states' rights and equal rights when Oregon began to implement President Truman's policy of "termination," which sought to end federal control of Indian affairs and return Indian governance to the states.

At the Oregon Conference on Indian Affairs in July 1950, which brought together state and federal officials, the superintendents of Oregon's four Indian reservations, and tribal leaders to discuss abolishing the reservation system and creating an assimilated Indian society,

Oregon's 1866 antimiscegenation law became an issue. Boyd Jackson, a Klamath tribal representative, spoke against the law, saying, "You have ... discriminated against us by prohibiting intermarriage among your people."

The conference galvanized those eager to promote Indian assimilation, including moderate Republican Governor Douglas McKay, and created momentum for repeal of the marriage law. A. H. Wright, Director of Indian Education in Oregon and chair of the newly formed Advisory Committee on Indian Affairs, said, "I would like to remove the miscegenation law from the Oregon statutes. Any Oregon statute that is discriminatory in nature should be abolished."

At the governor's direction, the state attorney general looked into the matter, reported that the California Supreme Court had recently overturned a similar antimiscegenation law on equal protection grounds, and recommended that the governor press for repeal of the law. The prospect of intermarriage between blacks and whites created the biggest hurdle to repeal.

Instead of overt revulsion to such unions, as expressed by legislators during the nineteenth century, twentieth-century politicians argued that racial intermarriage would hinder black advancement and be "a crime to unborn children." Ed. note *Eugenics/abortions

However, Senator Philip Hitchcock, a Republican from Klamath Falls who led the fight for repeal, told the Oregon Senate that the 1866 marriage ban was "a disgrace to the state of Oregon, which violates the constitution and the laws of God." Despite strong opposition by three senators from the Portland area, the legislature repealed the marriage ban in May 1951 by a wide margin.

The repeal of the antimiscegenation law represents a crossroads in Oregon's racial politics, when the state began turning away from the overt practice of systematic racism and instead pursued the stated policies of equality and colorblindness. Ed.note Doctrine of Reception

In 1959, as part of Oregon's centennial celebration, the legislature finally ratified the Fifteenth Amendment. "...Ratification of the amendment is particularly important at this time, as it will lend moral support to those persons in the South who feel it is time we accept people as people," remarked Senator William Grenfell, one of the authors of the resolution. "It is time Oregon accepts her rightful role in the union and it is appropriate in our Centennial year."

In an unsigned editorial, published January 30, 1959, the Oregonian wrote that "...the denial of ratification for the Fifteenth Amendment recalled "a bitter era in Oregon politics," when sentiment for the South "was bolstered by emigration from the southern and border states."

The editorial confidently asserted that "...current Oregon sentiment is overwhelmingly to the contrary."

Ironically, although the article mentioned the 1868 rescission of the Fourteenth Amendment, it did not call on the legislature to remedy the situation, as it had for the Fifteenth Amendment, with reratification.

By the second half of the twentieth century, Oregon had begun to actively distance itself from its ugly history of racial discrimination and sought a more progressive identity.

Oregonians, of all races, participated in, and, were, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement.

Portland's black community had established a branch of the NAACP in 1913, though the movement suffered setbacks during the Klan heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. However, responding to the new credo of colorblindness Ed.note European Multiculturalism end note..., and a rapidly growing urban black population.

Oregon passed key pieces of Civil Rights legislation during the 1940s and 1950s, including a "fair employment act" (1949), a "ban on discrimination in vocational schools (1951)", and a "public accommodations law (1953)", along with the 1951 repeal of the ban on interracial marriage.

In 1966 Gladys McCoy was elected to the Portland School Board, becoming the first African American to hold public office in Oregon.

In 1972, Gladys's husband, William McCoy, was elected to the Oregon House, making him the first African American to serve in the state legislature.

As one of his first actions as a member of the House, McCoy asked his colleagues to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.

It came as a surprise to Oregon politicians that their state was not on record in support of the Fourteenth Amendment.

However, the move to correct the situation was conducted in such a way as to minimize any possibility of public education or reconciliation--quickly, in an almost embarrassed silence.

When asked why the issue never garnered much attention or debate, Les Aucoin, one of the cosponsors of the joint resolution to ratify the amendment in 1973, indicates that politicians wanted to quickly rectify the oversight before too many people found out. Ed. note* Like the Naturalization Act of 1807

On April 19, 1973, McCoy briefly testified before the Senate State and Federal Affairs Committee in support of the resolution.

He also recounted the old Grant County dispute and noted that, at the time, the Oregon Legislature was "hopelessly entangled ... in the bitter aftermath of the Civil War reconstruction controversy." McCoy stated, according to meeting minutes, that while "he realized that ratification at this time has no real effect on what has been done constitutionally, ... he wished by passage of HJR 13 to set the Oregon record straight." House Joint Resolution 13 passed overwhelmingly but without fanfare on May 21, 1973.

It is not clear from the record if certified copies of the resolution ever were sent to the General Services Administration, but Congress did note Oregon's re ratification when the Speaker of the House announced a "memorial" of the Oregon Legislature, "ratifying, again (after rescinding previous ratification) the 14th Amendment."

However, the Historical Notes in the U.S. Code mention only the rescission, not the re ratification.

Apparently, McCoy's desire to "set the record straight" was never fulfilled. Politicians got their wish--hardly anyone found out about Oregon's embarrassing oversight.

The Oregonian buried a brief follow-up story at the bottom of page 30, mentioning neither the issue of race nor McCoy's role in introducing the resolution. However, the "illegal" Grant County episode was again rehashed.

At his death in 1996, McCoy was the longest-serving state senator in Oregon. Even his obituary did not mention the contribution, early in his career, of seeing that Oregon finally ratified the Fourteenth Amendment.

Setting the Record Straight

Some political extremists and scholars use Oregon's rescission to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment was never validly ratified by three-quarters of the states. Such arguments tend to be thinly disguised attacks against Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence and its associated guarantees of equal protection, substantive due process, and fundamental rights, which have led to landmark--and controversial--Supreme Court rulings over the last half century. Past ambiguities about whether Oregon ever validly ratified the Fourteenth Amendment--as well as the general lack of knowledge about or record of the 1973 reratification--lend credence to such arguments.

On the other hand, some consider the withdrawal of ratification to be merely a symbolic act. Like its fruitless rejection of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, Oregon's rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment came too late to affect national policy. By this logic, the legislature's 1973 reratification of the Fourteenth Amendment can be seen as even more pointless: a futile correction of a moot point. However, symbolic acts are important when it comes to constitutional interpretation and legitimacy. If Americans do not believe they have a role in the continual framing and reframing of the Constitution, the document loses its legitimacy as the custodian of the true will of "the People." As the scholar Reva Siegel explains, a collective sense of participation in constitutional construction is essential for adherence to the Constitution's authority:
The experience of citizenship as authorizing government depends on an act of identification with "the Founding Fathers"--those who drafted and ratified the Constitution that constitutes us as a nation. Stories about the drafting and ratification of the Constitution supply the basis for claims about the authority of the state. We tell and retell these stories over time, recreating from generation to generation the experience of identification with the acts of the "Founders" on which the authority of the national government rests.

The story line perpetuated by Oregon's anachronistic, partially lost history of the Fourteenth Amendment is that the state never ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, or that its initial ratification of the amendment was null and void due to political machinations. Thus, Oregonians may be less likely to feel bound by the Fourteenth Amendment and the principles for which it stands. However, if the story is that the state initially resisted ratification but later collectively embraced it--at the urging of a pioneering man of color in the state legislature--then perhaps Oregonians can assure themselves that the Fourteenth Amendment completely belongs to them and that they are reconstituted and bound by its dictates.

Unfortunately, Oregonians do not tell this story because they do not know it. Instead, after William McCoy exposed Oregon's failure to properly ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, his discovery and the state's reratification were quickly and quietly forgotten. Rather than taking advantage of the "constitutional moment," the resolution's drafters chose to sweep the matter under the rug. Whether they acted intentionally or instinctively, most elected officials and the media were reluctant to fully deal with the truth behind--or appreciate the significance of--Oregon's belated ratification.

It is not enough to quietly seek to remedy historic wrongs. A culture must come to terms with its past, and the past must be reconciled with the present. Instead, well-intentioned leaders in Oregon unintentionally facilitated a process of collective self-deception. It was as if the repeal of the antimiscegenation statute in 1951 began to recast Oregon, smoothing over the rough lines of its racist past. Although ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1959 elicited some self-reflection, ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1973 was accomplished in a kind of historic vacuum. By the 1970s, Oregon's "dark chapter" no longer fit its progressive identity.

The early-twentieth-century African American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, an ardent proponent of accurately remembering the events of Reconstruction, said that if history is to be the proper guide for a better future, it had to distinguish between "fact and desire." In Oregon's case, the desire for a white empire and the desire to maintain the illusion of an empire with no color lines do a disservice to those who lived and worked to change the racist landscape. Forgetting the Fourteenth Amendment also does a disservice to Oregonians and other Americans who have been part of the process--throughout Oregon's history--of framing the Constitution. It is time finally to set the record straight.

This essay is adapted from "Race, Politics, and Denial: Why Oregon Forgot to Ratify the Fourteenth Amendment," which appeared in the Oregon Law Review (volume 83, 2004). Reprinted by permission. The entire text with complete citations can be downloaded at the Oregon Law Review website.
Published in the Fall/Winter 2006 issue of Oregon Humanities.
© 2006 Oregon Council for the Humanities

..."However, the right to avoid a voidable transaction can be lost (usually lost by delay). These are sometimes referred to as "bars to rescission". Such considerations do not apply to matters which are void ab initio.

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