Jim Crow Triumph of the One-Drop Rule

Jim Crow Triumph of the One-Drop Rule
Essays on the Color Line and the One-Drop Rule
by Frank W Sweet
May 1, 2005

In the 1913-1914 school year, three children, wards of G.W. Tucker, were expelled from the Dalcho, South Carolina, public school on the ground that their family surname (Kirby) was rumored to be of Croatan1 origin. Tucker appealed to the state Board of Education and was turned down. He appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court in Tucker v. Blease, 1914 South Carolina.2

Inspection of the record suggests that the case was not even arguable. The state’s Constitution was clear. As set by Ben Tillman’s 1895 Constitutional Convention, it defined endogamous group membership via a one-eighth blood-fraction rule.3 The school segregation statute was equally clear. It did not contain any rule determining whether a child was Black, but relied on the Constitution. The trial testimony was clear. No witness testified that the Kirby children had any Black ancestry at all, much less one-eighth.

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