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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
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Jim Crow Stories

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Civil Rights Act (1875)
The Capitol

In 1875, the lame-duck Republican-controlled Congress, in a last-ditch effort to protect what remained of Reconstruction, managed to pass a civil-rights bill that sought to guarantee freedom of access, regardless of race, to the "full and equal enjoyment" of many public facilities. Citizens were given the right to sue for personal damages. The two key clauses read as follows:

"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, publicThe Civil Rights Act of 1875 was rarely enforced and was eventually overturned by a Supreme Court decision in 1883. 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 ... "

Federal courts were given exclusive jurisdiction over all cases arising under the act. Barring any qualified person from serving as a grand or petit juror was made a crime, albeit a misdemeanor. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was rarely enforced was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1883.

-- Richard Wormser

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Did you Know ...


After 1875, Congress didn't pass another civil rights bill until 1957.
Related Pages
Supreme Court Overrules Civil Rights Act

Republican Party

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