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the resolution of March 1, 1845, annexing Texas, and the act
December 29, same year, admitting Texas into the Union, we made all the people not slaves citizens; also by the treaty of September 27, 1830, we admitted to citizens certain heads of families of Choctaws; also by the treaty of December 29, 1855, we did the same as to the Cherokees; also by the act of March 3, 1843, we admitted to full citizenship the Stockbridge tribe of Indians. Referring to the first section which his colleague had proposed to amend, he said: “Self-evidently this is the whole effect of this first section. It secures, not to all citizens, but to all races as races who are citizens, equality of protection in those enumerated civil rights which the States may deem proper to confer upon any races. Now, sir, can this Government do this? Can it prevent one race of free citizens from being by State laws deprived as a race of all the civil rights for the securement of which his Gorernment was created, and which are the only considerations the Government renders to him for the Federal allegiance which he renders? It does seem to me that that Government which has the exclusive right to confer citizenship, and which is entitled to demand service and allegiance, which is supreme over that due to any State, may-nay, must-protect those citizens in those rights which are fairly conducive and appropriate and necessary to the attainment of his protection as a citizen. And I think those rights to contract, sue, testify, inherit, etc., which this bill says the races shall hold as races in equality, are of that class which are fairly conducive and necessary as means to the constitutional end; to-wit, the protection of the rights of person and property of a citizen. It has been found impossible to settle or define what are all the indispensable rights of American citizenship. But it is perfectly well settled what are some of these, and without which there is no citizenship, either in this or any other Government. Two of these are the right of petition and the right of protection in such property as it is lawful for that particular citizen to own."
The debate was closed by Mr. Wilson, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He said: “This bill, sir, has met with opposition in both houses on the same ground that, in times gone by, before this land was drenched in blood by the slaveholders' rebellion, was urged by those who controlled the destinies of the southern portion of the country, and those who adhered to their fortunes in the North, for the purpose of riveting the chains of slavery and converting this republic into a great slave nation. The arguments which have been urged against this bill in both houses are but counterparts of the arguments used in opposition to the authority the Government sought to exercise in controlling and preventing the spread of slavery.
“Citizens of the United States, as such, are entitled to certain rights, and, being entitled to those rights, it is the duty of the Government to protect citizens in the perfect enjoyment of them. The citizen is entitled to life, liberty, and the right to property. The gentleman from Ohio tells us, in the protection of these rights, the citizen must depend upon the 'honest purpose of the several States,' and that the General Government can not interpose its strong right arm to defend the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and in possession of property. In other words, if the States of this Union, in their 'honest purpose, like the honesty of purpose manifested by the Southern States in times past, should deprive the citizen, without due process of law, of life, liberty, and property, the General Government, which can draw the citizen by the strong bond of allegiance to the battlefield, has no power to intervene and set aside a State law, and give the citizen protection under the laws of Congress in the courts of the United States; that at the mercy of the States lie all the rights of the citizens of the United States; that while it was deemed necessary to constitute a great Government to render secure the rights of the people, the framers of the Government turned over to the States the power to deprive the citizen of those things for the security of which the Government was framed. In other words, the little State of Delaware has a hand stronger than the United States; that revolted South Carolina may put under lock and key the great fundamental rights belonging to the citizen, and we must be dumb; that our legislative power can not be exercised; that our courts must be closed to the appeal of our citizens. That is the doctrine this House of Representatives, representing a great free people, just emerged from a terrible war for the maintenance of American liberty, is asked to adopt.
“The gentleman from Ohio tells the House that civil rights involve all the rights that citizens have under the Government; that in the term are embraced those rights which belong to the citizen of the United States as such, and those which belong to a citizen of a State as such; and that this bill is not intended merely to enforce equality of rights, so far as they relate to citizens of the United States, but invades the States to enforce equality of rights in respect to those things which properly and rightfully depend on State regulations and laws. My friend is too sound a lawyer, is too well versed in the Constitution of his country, to indorse that proposition on calm and deliberate consideration. He knows, as every man knows, that this bill refers to those rights which belong to men as citizens of the United States and none other; and when he talks of setting aside the school laws, and jury laws, and franchise laws of the States, by the bill now under consideration, he steps beyond what he must know to be the rule of construction which must apply here, and, as the result of which this bill can only relate to matters within the control of Congress.”
Comparing Mr. Bingham's proposed amendment with the original bill, Mr. Wilson said: “What difference in principle is there between saying that the citizen shall be protected by the legislative power of the United States in his rights by civil remedy and declaring that he shall be protected by penal enactments against those who interfere with his rights? There is no difference in the principle involved. If we may adopt the gentleman's mode, we may also select the mode provided in this bill. There is a difference in regard to the expense of protection; there is also a difference as to the effectiveness of the two modes. Beyond this, nothing. This bill proposes that the humblest citizen shall have full and ample protection at the cost of the Government, whose duty it is to protect him. The amendment of the gentleman recognizes the principle involved, but it says that the citizen despoiled of his rights, instead of being properly protected by the Government, must press his own way through the courts and pay the bills attendant thereon. This may do for the rich, but to the poor, who need protection, it is mockery. The highest obligation which the Government owes to the citizen, in return for the allegiance exacted of him, is to secure him in the protection of his rights. Under the amendment of the gentleman, the citizen can only receive that protection in the form of a few dollars in the way of damages, if he shall be so fortunate as to recover a verdict against a solvent wrong-doer. This is called protection. This is what we are asked to do in the way of enforcing the bill of rights. Dollars are weighed against the right of life, liberty,
and property. The verdict of a jury is to cover all wrongs and discharge the obligations of the Government to its citizens.
“Sir, I can not see the justice of that doctrine. I assert that it is the duty of the Government of the United States to provide proper protection and to pay the costs attendant on it. We have gone out with the strong arm of the Government and drawn from their homes, all over this land, in obedience to the bond of allegiance which the Government holds on the citizen, hundreds of thousands of men to the battle-field; and yet, while we may exercise this extraordinary power, the gentleman claims that we can not extend the protecting hand of the Government to these men who have been battling for the life of the nation, but can only send them, at their own cost, to juries for verdicts of a few dollars in compensation for the most flagrant wrong to their most sacred rights. Let those support that doctrine who will, I can not."
At the conclusion of Mr. Wilson's speech, Mr. Eldridge, of Wisconsin, moved to lay the whole subject on the table. This motion was rejected-yeas, 32; nays, 118.
The House then rejected Mr. Bingham's proposed amendment, and recommitted the bill to the Committee on the Judiciary.
On the 13th of March the bill was reported back from the committee with some amendments, one of which was to strike out in section one the following words :
“Without distinction of color, and there shall be no discrimination in civil rights, or immunities among citizens of the United States in any State or Territory of the United States on account of race, color, or previous condition of slavery.”
The words were omitted to satisfy some who feared that it might be held by the courts that the right of suffrage was conferred thereby.
Another amendment proposed was the addition of a section to the bill, to-wit:
" And be it further enacted, That upon all questions of law arising in any case under the provisions of this act, a final appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Other amendments proposed and adopted were chiefly of a verbal character.
The main question was finally taken, and the bill passed by the following vote:
YEAS—Messrs. Alley, Allison, Ames, Anderson, James M. Ashley, Baker, Baldwin, Banks, Baxter, Beaman, Bidwell, Blaine, Blow, Boutwell, Bromwell, Broomall, Buckland, Bundy, Sidney Clarke, Cobb, Conkling, Cook, Cullom, Darling, Davis, Dawes, Delano, Deming, Dixon, Donnelly, Driggs, Dumont, Eliot, Farnsworth, Farquhar, Ferry, Garfield, Grinnell, Abner C. Harding, Hart, Hayes, Higby, Hill, Holmes, Hooper, Asahel W. Hubbard, Chester D. Hubbard, Demas Hubbard, John H. Hubbard, Hulburd, James Humphrey, Ingersoll, Jenckes, Julian, Kelley, Kelso, Ketcham, Kuykendall, Laflin, George V. Lawrence, William Lawrence, Loan, Longyear, Lynch, Marston, Marvin, McClurg, McRuer, Mercur, Miller, Moorhead, Morrill, Morris, Moulton, Myers, Newell, O'Neill, Orth, Paine, Perham, Pike, Plants, Price, Alexander H. Rice, Sawyer, Schenck, Scofield, Shellabarger, Sloan, Spalding, Starr, Stevens, Thayer, Francis Thomas, John L. Thomas, Trowbridge, Upson, Van Aernam, Burt Van Horn, Ward, Warner, Elihu B. Washburne, William B. Washburn, Welker, Wentworth, Whaley, Williams, James F. Wilson, Stephen F. Wilson, Windom, and Woodbridge-111.
Nays-Messrs. Ancona, Bergen, Bingham, Boyer, Brooks, Coffroth, Dawson, Denison, Glosbrenner, Goodyear, Grider, Aaron Harding, Harris, Hogan, Edwin N. Hubbell, Jones, Kerr, Latham, Le Blond, Marshall, McCullough, Nicholson, Phelps, Radford, Samuel J. Randall, Willam H. Randall, Ritter, Rogers, Ross, Rosseau, Shanklin, Sitgreaves, Smith, Taber, Taylor, Thornton, Trimble, and Winfield_38.
Nor VOTING/Messrs. Delos R. Ashley, Barker, Benjamin, Brandegee, Chanler, Reader W. Clarke, Culver, Defrees, Eckley, Eggeston, Eldridge, Finck, Griswold, Hale, Henderson, Hotchkiss, James R. Hubbell, James M. Humphrey, Johnson, Kasson, McIndoe, McKee, Niblack, Noell, Patterson, Pomeroy, Raymond, John H. Rice, Rollins, Stilwell, Strouse, Robert T. Van Horn, Henry D. Washburn, and Wright--34.
It is an illustration of the opinion which the minority entertained of the bill to the last, that after it had finally passed, and the previous question had been moved on the adoption of the title, Mr. Le Blond moved to amend the title of the bill by making it read, “A bill to abrogate the rights and break down the judicial system of the States.”
On the 15th of March the amendments made by the House came before the Senate for adoption in that body. While these were under consideration by the Senate, Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, made two motions to amend, which were rejected. He then moved to lay the bill on the table, and was proceeding to make a speech, when he was informed that his motion was not debatable. He then withdrew his motion to lay on the table, and