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|Long title||An 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 by||the 39th United States Congress|
|Effective||April 9, 1866|
|Public law||14 Stat. 27–30|
|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. 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.
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.