Civil Rights Act of 1875

Civil Rights Act of 1875
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights.
Acronyms (colloquial)CRA 1875
NicknamesEnforcement Act, Force Act, and Sumner Civil Rights Bill
Enacted bythe 43rd United States Congress
Citations
Statutes at Large18 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)

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 335–337),[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, saying Congress was not afforded control over private persons or corporations.

Legislative history

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]