Civil Rights Act of 1866

Civil Rights Act of 1866
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights and liberties, and furnish the Means of their Vindication.
Acronyms (colloquial)CRA 1866
Enacted bythe 39th United States Congress
EffectiveApril 9, 1866
Public law14 Stat. 27–30
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 61 by Lyman Trumbull (RIL) on January 5, 1866
  • Committee consideration by Judiciary
  • Passed the Senate on February 2, 1866 (33–12)
  • Passed the House on March 13, 1866 (111–38)
  • Vetoed by President Andrew Johnson on March 27, 1866
  • Overridden by the Senate on April 6, 1866 (33–15)
  • Overridden by the House and became law on April 9, 1866 (122–41)
Major amendments
Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Section 1981) P.L. 102–166
United States Supreme Court cases

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (14 Stat. 27–30, enacted April 9, 1866, reenacted 1870) was the first United States federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law.[1] It was mainly intended, in the wake of the American Civil War, to protect the civil rights of persons of African descent born in or brought to the United States.[2]

The Act was passed by Congress in 1866 and vetoed by U.S. President Andrew Johnson. In April 1866, Congress again passed the bill to support the Thirteenth Amendment, and Johnson again vetoed it, but a two-thirds majority in each chamber overrode the veto to allow it to become law without presidential signature.

John Bingham and other congressmen argued that Congress did not yet have sufficient constitutional power to enact this law. Following passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, Congress ratified the 1866 Act in 1870.

  1. ^ White, Deborah (2012). Freedom on My Mind. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 391. ISBN 978-0-312-64884-8.
  2. ^ Civil Rights Act of 1866

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