Civil Rights in Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century America

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Transcript Civil Rights in Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century America

Civil Rights in Late
Nineteenth/Early Twentieth
Century America
HEH July 23, 2012
John Mercer Langston (1829-1897)
President, National Equal Rights League, 1864-8
Civil Rights Act (1866) Section 1
“…That all persons born in the United States and not subject
to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby
declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens,
of every race and color, without regard to any previous
condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a
punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly
convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and
Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts,
to sue, be parties, and give evidence, inherit, purchase, lease,
sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full
and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security
of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and
shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and
to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or
custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.”
G.N. Barnard, “Slave Quarters on an Old South
Carolina Plantation,” n.d., New York Historical Society
(Penningroth, p. 419)
Section 1, 14th Amendment (1868)
All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are
citizens of the United States and of the State
wherein they reside. No State shall make or
enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges
or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor
shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law; nor deny
to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws.
Civil Rights Act 1875
(ruled unconstitutional by SCOTUS 1883)
• Be it enacted, That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States
shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations,
advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or
water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the
conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to
citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of
servitude. SEC. 2. That any person who shall violate the foregoing section
by denying to any citizen, except for reasons by law applicable to citizens of
every race and color, and regardless of any previous condition of servitude,
the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or
privileges in said section enumerated, or by aiding or inciting such denial,
shall, for every such offense, forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred
dollars to the person aggrieved thereby, . . . and shall also, for every such
offense, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand
dollars, or shall be imprisoned not less than thirty days nor more than one
year . . .
Homer Plessy (1862-1925)
Citizens’ Committee Pamphlet 1893
Chinese Laundry, 19th Century
Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Majority
opinion (Justice Henry Billings Brown)
…every exercise of the police power must be reasonable, and extend only
to such laws as are enacted in good faith for the promotion of the public
good, and not for the annoyance or oppression of a particular class. Thus,
in Yick Wo v. Hopkins…it was held by this court that a municipal ordinance
of the city of San Francisco, to regulate the carrying on of public laundries
within the limits of the municipality, violated the provisions of the
constitution of the United States, if it conferred upon the municipal
authorities arbitrary power, at their own will, and without regard to
discretion, in the legal sense of the term, to give or withhold consent as to
persons or places, without regard to the competency of the persons
applying or the propriety of the places selected for the carrying on of the
business. It was held to be a covert attempt on the part of the
municipality to make an arbitrary and unjust discrimination against the
Chinese race…We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's
argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the
two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so,
it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the
colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.
Justice John Harlan, dissent in Plessy
“There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging
to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few
exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race. But,
by the statute in question, a Chinaman can ride in the same passenger coach with
white citizens of the United States, while citizens of the black race in Louisiana,
many of whom, perhaps, risked their lives for the preservation of the Union, who
are entitled, by law, to participate in the political control of the State and nation,
who are not excluded, by law or by reason of their race, from public stations of any
kind, and who have all the legal rights that belong to white citizens, are yet
declared to be criminals, liable to imprisonment, if they ride in a public coach
occupied by citizens of the white race. It is scarcely just to say that a colored citizen
should not object to occupying a public coach assigned to his own race. He does
not object, nor, perhaps, would he object to separate coaches for his race if his
rights under the law were recognized. But he objecting, and ought never to cease
objecting, to the proposition that citizens of the white and black race can be
adjudged criminals because they sit, or claim the right to sit, in the same public
coach on a public highway.”
Alien Land Laws in the U.S.
(one of two)
• 1864 Washington: any non-citizen can own
land “in like manner and with like effect as if
such an alien were a native citizen of this
Territory or of the United States.”
• 1859 Oregon (Constitution): “No Chinaman,
not a resident of this State at the time of
adoption of this Constitution, shall ever hold
any real estate or mining claim, or work any
mining claim therein.”
Alien Land Laws in the U.S.
(two of two)
1913 and 1920 California
1917 Arizona
1921 Washington, Louisiana
1922 New Mexico
1923 Idaho, Montana, Oregon
1925 Kansas
WWII Arkansas, Utah, Wyoming
Japan’s Consul General Kametaro Iijima and lawyer Juichi Soyeda challenge
California’s Alien Land Law of 1913
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)