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The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 335–337),[2] sometimes called Enforcement Act or Force Act, was a United States federal law enacted during the Reconstruction Era in response to civil rights violations to African Americans, "to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights", giving them equal treatment in public accommodations, public transportation, and to prohibit exclusion from jury service. The bill was passed by the 43rd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875. The law was generally opposed by public opinion, but blacks did favor it. It was not effectively enforced and historian William Gillette says the passage of the law was an "insignificant victory."[3] Eight years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Civil Rights Cases (1883) that the public accommodation sections of the act were unconstitutional.

Civil Rights Act of 1875
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights.
Acronyms (colloquial) CRA 1875
Nicknames Enforcement Act, Force Act, and Sumner Civil Rights Bill
Enacted by the 43rd United States Congress
Citations
Statutes at Large 18 Stat. 335-337
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1 by Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) on May 13, 1870[1]
  • Committee consideration by Senate Judiciary
  • Passed the House on February 4, 1875 (162–99)
  • Passed the Senate on February 27, 1875 (38–26)
  • Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875
United States Supreme Court cases
Civil Rights Cases (1883)

Contents

Legislative historyEdit

The drafting of the bill was performed early in 1870 by Senator Charles Sumner, a dominant Radical Republican in the Senate, with the assistance of John Mercer Langston, a prominent African American who established the law department at Howard University.[4] The bill was proposed by Senator Sumner and co-sponsored by Representative Benjamin F. Butler, both Republicans from Massachusetts, in the 41st Congress of the United States in 1870. Congress removed the coverage of public schools that Sumner had included. The act was passed by the 43rd Congress in February 1875 as a memorial to honor Sumner, who had just died.[5] It was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875.[6]

EnforcementEdit

President Grant had wanted an entirely different law to help him suppress election-related violence against blacks and Republicans in the South. Congress did not give him that, but instead wrote a law for equal rights to public accommodations that was passed as a memorial to Grant's bitterest enemy, the late Senator Charles Sumner.[7] Grant never commented on the 1875 law, and did nothing to enforce it says historian John Hope Franklin. [8] Grant's Justice Department ignored it and did not send copies to US attorneys, says Franklin, while many federal judges called it unconstitutional before the Supreme Court shut it down. Franklin concludes regarding Grant and Hayes administrations, "The Civil Rights Act was never effectively enforced." [9] Public opinion was opposed, with the black community in support.[10] Historian Rayford Logan looking at newspaper editorials finds the press was overwhelmingly opposed.[11]

Constitutional challengeEdit

The Supreme Court, in an 8–1 decision, declared sections of the act unconstitutional in the Civil Rights Cases on October 15, 1883. Justice John Marshall Harlan provided the lone dissent. The Court held the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination by the state and local government, but it does not give the federal government the power to prohibit discrimination by private individuals and organizations.[12] The Court also held that the Thirteenth Amendment was meant to eliminate "the badge of slavery," but not to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was the last civil rights bill to be signed into law by the federal government until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 during the Civil Rights Movement.

LegacyEdit

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is notable as the last major piece of legislation related to Reconstruction that were passed by Congress during the Reconstruction Era. These include the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the four Reconstruction Acts of 1867 and 1868, the three Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871, and the three Constitutional Amendments adopted between 1865 and 1870.[13]

Provisions contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were later readopted by Congress during the Civil Rights Movement as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The 1964 and 1968 acts relied upon the Commerce Clause contained in Article One of the Constitution of the United States rather than the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Civil Rights Bill of 1875, Legislative Interests, The Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Statutes at Large, 43rd Congress, Session II, chapter 114, pp. 335–37" (PDF). Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ William Gillette (1982). Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869--1879. LSU Press. p. 259. 
  4. ^ "John Mercer Langston, Representative, 1890–1891, Republican from Virginia, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  5. ^ Williamjames Hull Hoffer (2010). The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War. JHU Press. p. 121. 
  6. ^ "Civil Rights Bill of 1875, Legislative Interests, The Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ Jean Edward Smith, Grant (2002) pp 566-68.
  8. ^ John Hope Franklin, "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875" Prologue (1974) 6:225-35.
  9. ^ Franklin, "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875" p 235.
  10. ^ William Gillette, Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869--1879 (1982). p 201
  11. ^ Rayford W. Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson (2nd ed. 1965) p 178.
  12. ^ Gerber, Richard; Friedlander, Alan (2008). "The Civil Rights Act of 1875: A Reexamination". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  13. ^ "Summary of Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts passed by Congress". Retrieved November 20, 2012. 

Further readingEdit

BooksEdit

EncyclopediasEdit

MonographsEdit

Dissertations and thesesEdit

JournalsEdit

  • Avins, Alfred (May 1966). "The Civil Rights Act of 1875: Some Reflected Light on the Fourteenth Amendment and Public Accommodations". Columbia Law Review. 66: 873–915. doi:10.2307/1121057. 
  • Franklin, John Hope (Winter 1974). "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875". Prologue Magazine. 6 (4): 225–235. 
  • Gudridge, Patrick O. (April 1989). "Privileges and Permissions: The Civil Rights Act of 1875". Law and Philosophy. 8 (1): 83–130. doi:10.2307/3504632. 
  • Jager, Ronald B. (September 1969). "Charles Sumner, the Constitution, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875". The New England Quarterly. 42 (3): 350–372. doi:10.2307/363614. 
  • Kaczorowski, Robert J. (February 1987). "To Begin the Nation Anew: Congress, Citizenship, and Civil Rights after the Civil War". The American Historical Review. 92 (1): 45–68. doi:10.2307/1862782. 
  • McPherson, James M. (December 1965). "Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Act of 1875". Journal of American History. 52 (3): 493–510. doi:10.2307/1890844. 
  • Murphy, L.E. (April 1927). "The Civil Rights Law of 1875". Journal of Negro History. 12 (2): 110–127. doi:10.2307/2714050. 
  • Spackman, S. G. F. (December 1976). "American Federalism and the Civil Rights Act of 1875". Journal of American Studies. 10 (3): 313–328. doi:10.1017/s0021875800003182. 
  • Weaver, Valeria W. (October 1969). "The Failure of Civil Rights 1875–1883 and its Repercussions". Journal of Negro History. 54 (4): 368–382. doi:10.2307/2716730. 
  • Wyatt-Brown, Bertram (December 1965). "The Civil Rights Act of 1875". Western Political Quarterly. 18 (4): 763–765. doi:10.1177/106591296501800403. 

External linksEdit

Congressional RecordsEdit

OtherEdit