A Grandfathered Clause

Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 06:12 am
What are the origins of the term "grandfathered clause?"

For instance, to make exceptions in a current set of rules they are "grandfathered" in.

I can't find anything that explains where that phrase originated. I'm assuming it has to do with some sort of elitism in which someone was included or excluded based on their geneology.

Is there a specific instance that inspired the action as being labeled a grandfathered event?
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Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 07:03 am
Butrflynet - Looks like I found something:

Link to Grandfather Clause
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Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2003 07:28 am
Thanks Phoenix. Interesting bit of history there.

Looks like the Supreme Court only outlawed the content of that specific Grandfather Clause and not the mechanism itself.
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Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2003 05:24 pm
From American Heritage online:
NOUN: 1. A provision in a statute that exempts those already involved in a regulated activity or business from the new regulations established by the statute. 2. A clause in the constitutions of several southern states before the year 1915, intended to disfranchise African Americans by exempting from stringent voting requirements all lineal descendants of persons who were registered voters before 1867.

In other words, if your grandfather couldn't vote, neither can you.
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Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2003 07:24 pm
Wy wrote:
In other words, if your grandfather couldn't vote, neither can you.

Actually, Wy, that's the complete opposite of the situation. It was: if your grandfather could vote, then so could you.

But your confusion is understandable. Both the dictionary definition you provided and the link that Phoenix supplied got it wrong too.

Grandfather clauses were not meant to disenfranchise blacks: they were meant to enfranchise poor whites. The literacy, property, and/or poll tax requirements were all designed to exclude blacks. If those requirements had been applied uniformly to all eligible voters, however, they would have disenfranchised a large number of poor, illiterate whites as well. So the southern legislators devised the grandfather clause, which only aided whites (presumably no black citizen had a lineal forbear who could legally vote before 1867). As a result, grandfather clauses effectively enlarged the franchise by allowing whites, who would otherwise have been disqualified by the literacy, property, and/or tax requirements, to vote.

So, contrary to what you may have read, grandfather clauses didn't disenfranchise blacks (that was accomplished through other means), they enfranchised whites.
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Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2003 08:04 pm
Either way, the result was that white folks could vote and black folks couldn't; that sounds like disenfranchisement to me...

I understand what you're saying, tho, it's not the grandfather clauses that did the disenfranchising, it's the "stringent voting requirements" (presumably, among others, literacy requirements) that did that.
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