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Long after Mills, Southern disfranchising conventions worried expressely about whether their work would survive challenge under the Reconstruction Amendments; suffrage provisions were self-consciously crafted to minimize the risk, perceived as real, that the federal courts would invalidate them.
In The Canon, I sought to document how recent and fragile the white electoral majorities were that approved disfranchisement in a border state like North Carolina, and how even in the deepest South, the disfranchising constitution of Alabama was adopted by a thin, nominal majority itself made possible only by overwhelming fraud.
But while the convention was debating ratification, the popular vote in Alabama took place; as described in The Canon, the Alabama disfranchising constitution was rejected in the white counties and adopted only because it won overwhelming--and obviously fraudulently--majorities in the black counties.
I will not belabor the point by going through the record in other disfranchising states.
As a brief example from yet one more state, consider South Carolina: only 38 percent of white voters there voted in the referendum for a disfranchising constitution, which passed only by 31,402 votes to 29,523 votes--despite widespread fraud designed to get the referendum passed.
For once the Supreme Court effectively blessed the disfranchising constitutions, those constitutions then created an electorate in their own image.
There whites were deeply divided over disfranchisement; when the disfranchising constitution of 1900--just before Giles--was submitted for popular approval, it passed with only 58.
76) The disfranchising constitution was approved with only 57% of the vote (a margin of 26,879 votes), and the total vote was against it in 54 of the state's 66 counties.
In the odd context of an appeal from a murder conviction, the disfranchising provisions of the 1890 Mississippi Constitution had been brought to the Court in Williams v.
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