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As Reconstruction came to an end in the late 1870s, Southern state legislatures began to enact legislation that asserted not only the legal separation of the races, but white supremacy. They were able to do this, in general, because the federal government was beginning to withdraw its support for black equality in the South, a position that became final with the Compromise of 1877 that gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency in return for an end to military occupation of the South. In 1883, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which ensured equal access to public facilities, was unconstitutional, a decision that paved the way for a spate of state segregation laws. The Court gave full sanction to Jim Crow laws with its landmark decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) which established the principle of "separate but equal" in public facilities and accomodations. Jim Crow was also undergirded by a complex system of race etiquette that governed black and white relations and was often enforced by violence.
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