Civil Rights Act of 1875
|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|
|Statutes at Large||18 Stat. 335-337|
|United States Supreme Court cases|
|Civil Rights Cases (1883)|
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 335–337), 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 U.S. 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." Eight years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Civil Rights Cases (1883) that the public accommodation sections of the act were unconstitutional, saying Congress was not afforded control over private persons or corporations.
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. 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. It was signed into law by U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875.
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. Grant never commented on the 1875 law, and did nothing to enforce it says historian John Hope Franklin. 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."  Public opinion was opposed, with the black community in support. Historian Rayford Logan looking at newspaper editorials finds the press was overwhelmingly opposed.
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. 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 federal civil rights bill signed into law until the Civil Rights Act of 1957, enacted during the Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is notable as the last major piece of legislation related to Reconstruction that was 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.
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.
- "Civil Rights Bill of 1875, Legislative Interests, The Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved November 12, 2012.
- "U.S. Statutes at Large, 43rd Congress, Session II, chapter 114, pp. 335–37" (PDF). Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- William Gillette (1982). Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869--1879. LSU Press. p. 259.
- "John Mercer Langston, Representative, 1890–1891, Republican from Virginia, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved November 12, 2012.
- Williamjames Hull Hoffer (2010). The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War. JHU Press. p. 121.
- "Civil Rights Bill of 1875, Legislative Interests, The Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood, Black Americans in Congress series". Retrieved May 5, 2009.
- Jean Edward Smith, Grant (2002) pp 566-68.
- John Hope Franklin, "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875" Prologue (1974) 6:225-35.
- Franklin, "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875" p 235.
- William Gillette, Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869--1879 (1982). p 201
- Rayford W. Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson (2nd ed. 1965) p 178.
- Gerber, Richard; Friedlander, Alan (2008). "The Civil Rights Act of 1875: A Reexamination". Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- "Summary of Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts passed by Congress". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Atwell, Mary Welek (2012). "Civil Rights Act of 1875". In Wilbur R. Miller. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia. SAGE. pp. 262–263. ISBN 9781412988780.
- Bitzer, J. Michael (2013). "Civil Rights Act of 1875". In Paul Finkelman. The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. Routledge. p. 300. ISBN 9781135947057.
- Rivera, Alicia (2006). "Civil Rights Act of 1875". In Paul Finkelman. Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From The Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass, vol. 1, A-E. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 285–287. ISBN 9780195167771.
- Gillette, William (1982). "Insignificant Victory: The Civil Rights Act of 1875". Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869--1879. LSU Press. pp. 259–279. ISBN 9780807110065.
- Higginbotham, A. Leon Jr. (1998). "The Supreme Court's Sanction of Racial Hatred: The 1883 Civil Rights Cases". Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process. Oxford University Press. pp. 94–107. ISBN 9780198028673.
- Howard, John R. (1999). The Shifting Wind: The Supreme Court and Civil Rights from Reconstruction to Brown. New York: State University of New York Press. pp. 66–68. ISBN 9780791440896.
- Sandoval-Strausz, A. K. (2007). "Accommodating Jim Crow: The Law of Hospitality and the Struggle for Civil Rights". Hotel: An American History. Yale University Press. pp. 284–311. ISBN 9780300106169.
- Tsesis, Alexander (2010). ""Badges and Incidents of Slavery" In the Supreme Court". The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment. Columbia University Press. pp. 172–181. ISBN 9780231141444.
- Wilson, Kirt H. (2002). The Reconstruction Desegregation Debate: The Politics of Equality and the Rhetoric of Place, 1870-1875. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9780870136177.
- Wynn, Linda T. (2009). "Civil Rights Act of 1875". In Jessie Carney Smith, Linda T. Wynn. Freedom Facts and Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience. Visible Ink Press. pp. 165–167. ISBN 9781578592609.
Dissertations and theses
- Lionel Rowe, Robert Lionel (1974). State Response to the Civil Right Issue, 1883-1885 (M.A. thesis). Portland State University. OCLC 40319075.
- Luckett, Barbara N. (1972). The Civil Rights Act of 1875: A Failure Reconsidered. (M.A. thesis) University of Nebraska at Omaha. OCLC 14633686.
- Weaver, Valerie Whittemore (1966). The Civil Rights Act of 1875: Reactions and Enforcement (M.A. thesis). University of California. OCLC 920414960.
- White, Carolyn Iona (1971). Georgia's Reaction to the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and the Civil Rights Cases of 1883 (M.A. thesis). Atlanta University. OCLC 889990672.
- 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.
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- Congressional Record: Congressional Globe (1833-1873) Provides an index to the "History of Senate Bills and Joint Resolutions" for Senate bill S. 1 during 1873. Retrieved November 18, 2012
- Congressional Record: House Proceedings, 1874 Provides an index to the "History of Senate Bills and Joint Resolutions" for House bill H.R. 796 during 1874. Retrieved November 18, 2012
- Benjamin F. Butler, "Civil Rights: Speech of Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, in the House of Representatives, January 7, 1874," From the Digital Archive Collections of the Mount St. Mary's University. Retrieved October 15, 2014
- "Civil Rights Bill of 1875", The Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood: Legislative Interests Provides a detailed description of the history of the bill from 1870 until its passage by Congress in 1875. Retrieved November 18, 2012
- History Crush: Charles Sumner, Prologue: Pieces of History, The National Archives.gov Provides a short biographical account of Sen. Charles Sumner including details surrounding his efforts to pass the Civil Rights bill in Congress. Includes images of Sumner, personal documents, and bill S. 1 that would later lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Retrieved November 18, 2012
- Summary of Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts passed by Congress Part of the Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 series. Provided by the Office of History and Preservation under the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved November 18, 2012
- "The Trouble has Commenced - A Tale of Anxiety" by Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly. From The New York Times "On This Day" series. Recounts the events on the floor of the House in the United States Congress involving the Civil Rights Bill on February 27, 1875. Retrieved March 16, 2013
- "How Some People Regard the Passage of the Civil Rights Bill" Published in the Daily Graphic on March 3, 1875. From the Old Fulton website. Presents a detractors view on the outcome of the Civil Right Bill. Retrieved July 5, 2014
- Digitized image of Charles Sumners' senate bill S. 1 as introduced during the 43rd United States Congress. From the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved May 18, 2015
- "Some Memories of A Long Life" An excerpt from the memoir of Malvina Shanklin Harlan, the wife of Justice John Marshall Harlan. The excerpt chronicles the effort that Justice Harlan placed into writing an opinion for the Civil Rights Cases (1883). From the Library of Congress. Retrieved May 18, 2015