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Civil Rights Act, 1875 

Guiding Question: To what extent did Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice become a reality for African Americans from Reconstruction to the end of the nineteenth century?

  • I can interpret primary sources related to Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice from the colonial era to the outbreak of the Civil War.
  • I can explain how laws and policy, courts, and individuals and groups contributed to or pushed back against the quest to end slavery.
  • I can create an argument using evidence from primary sources.
  • I can analyze issues in history to help find solutions to present-day challenges.

Essential Vocabulary

Conveyances Transportation

Building Context

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, a leader of the Radical Republicans, introduced the Civil Rights Act in 1870. Sumner’s original bill outlawed racial discrimination in juries, schools, transportation, and public accommodations. Sumner died before the bill was passed but spoke of it even on his deathbed. The bill passed in February 1875, but it was struck down in the Supreme Court in the 1883 Civil Rights Cases.

Civil Rights Act, 1875

Source Link:

. . . 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 [transportation] 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.

Comprehension and Analysis Questions

  1. What does this bill guarantee?
  2. Why do you suppose schools and juries are not included in the final bill that passed?