Act of April 9, 1866 Ratified December 6, 1868
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Lyman Thurmbull, the author of the Civil Rights Act,
An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their Vindication
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any inhabitant of any State or Territory to the deprivation of any right secured or protected by this act, or to different punishment, pains, or penalties on account of such person having at any time been held in a condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, or by reason of his color or race, than is prescribed for the punishment of white persons, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction, shall be punished by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both . . . .
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the district courts of the United States . . . shall have, exclusively of the courts of the several States, cognizance of all crimes and offences committed against the provisions of this act, and also, concurrently with the circuit courts of the United States, of all causes, civil and criminal, affecting persons who are denied or cannot enforce in the courts or judicial tribunals of the State or locality where they may be any of the rights secured to them by the first section of this act. . . .
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the district attorneys, marshals, and deputy marshals of the United States, the commissioners appointed by the circuit and territorial courts of the United States, with powers of arresting, imprisoning, or bailing offenders against the laws of the United States . . . and every other officer who may be specially empowered by the President of the United States, shall be . . . specially authorized and required, at the expense of the United States, to institute proceedings against . . . every person who shall violate the provisions of this act, and cause him or them to be arrested and imprisoned, or bailed . . . for trial before such court of the United States or territorial court as by this act has cognizance of the offence. . . .
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Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly and willfully obstruct, hinder, or prevent any officer . . . charged with the execution of any warrant . . . or shall rescue or attempt to rescue such person from the custody of the officer . . . or shall aid, abet, or assist any person so arrested . . . to escape from the custody of the officer . . . or shall harbor or conceal any person for whose arrest a warrant or process shall have been issued . . . so as to prevent his discovery and arrest after notice or knowledge of the fact that a warrant has been issued for the apprehension of such person, shall . . . be subject to a fine . . . and imprisonment not exceeding six months. . . .
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Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That whenever the President of the United States shall have reason to believe that offences have been or are likely to be committed against the provisions of this act . . . it shall be lawful for him . . . to direct the judge, marshal, and district attorney . . . to attend at such place . . . for the purpose of the more speedy arrest and trial of persons charged with a violation of this act; and it shall be the duty of every judge or other officer, when any such requisition shall be received by him, to attend at the place and for the time therein designated.
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, or such person as he may empower for that purpose, to employ such part of the land or naval forces of the United States, or of the militia, as shall be necessary to prevent the violation and enforce the due execution of this act.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That upon all questions of law arising in any cause under the provisions of this act a final appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
LA FAYETTE S. FOSTER,
President of the Senate, pro tempore.
In the Senate of the United States, April 6, 1866.
The Significant Fight For Blacks National Birth Right and Identity
The President of the United States having returned to the Senate, in which it originated, the bill entitled “An act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the means of their vindication,” with his objections thereto, the Senate proceeded, in pursuance of the Constitution, to reconsider the same; and, Resolved, That the said bill do pass, two-thirds of the Senate agreeing to pass the same.
Attest: J.W. Forney, Secretary of the Senate | In the House of Representatives U.S. April 9th, 1866.
The House of Representatives having proceeded, in pursuance of the Constitution, to reconsider the bill entitled “An act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the means of their vindication,” returned to the Senate by the President of the United States, with his objections, and sent by the Senate to the House of Representatives, with the message of the President returning the bill:
Resolved, That the bill do pass, two-thirds of the House of Representatives agreeing to pass the same.
Attest: Edward McPherson, Clerk, by Clinton Lloyd, Chief Clerk