“When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. Oregon’s founding is part of the forgotten history of racism in the American west.
But the book kind of misses the forest for the trees in not recognizing the fact that the entire state of Oregon was founded as a kind of racist’s utopia. Race isn’t explored in the otherwise excellent book.
Thousands would travel to Oregon in the 19th and 20th centuries, looking for their own versions of utopia. Some brave and noble people made the journey that would become cartoonishly immortalized for at least three generations now in the computer game Oregon Trail. But unfortunately for people of color, that pixelated utopia and vision of the promise land was explicitly designed to exclude them in real life….”
I’ve known about Oregon’s history of excluding blacks for years now (it is mentioned in the American Racial History Timeline), but the story gets murky after the adoption of the state constitution in 1857. After the 14th Amendment was adopted during Reconstruction, federal law superseded state law.