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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the Civil Rights Mass-Meeting held at Lincoln Hall, October 22, 1883. Speeches of Hon. Frederick Douglass and Robert G. Ingersoll.
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In the United States v. Harris, 106 U.S., 640 the Supreme Court says:
"It is clear that the 13th Amendment, besides abolishing forever slavery and involuntary servitude within the United States, gives power to Congress to protect all citizens from being in any way subjected to slavery or involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, and in the enjoyment of that freedom which it was the object of the amendment to secure."
This declaration covers the entire case.
I agree with Justice Field:
"The 18th Amendment is not confined to African slavery. It is general and universal in its application—prohibiting the slavery of white men as well as black men, and not prohibiting mere slavery in the strict sense of the term, but involuntary servitude in every form." 16 Wallace, 90.
The 13th Amendment declares that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist. Who must see to it that this declaration is carried out? There can be but one answer. It is the duty of Congress.
At last the question narrows itself to this: Is a citizen of the United States, when denied admission to public inns, railway cars and theatres, on account of his race or color, in a condition of involuntary servitude? If he is, then he is under the immediate protection of the general government, by virtue of the 13th Amendment; and the Civil Rights Act is clearly constitutional.
If excluded from one inn, he may from all; if from one car, why not from all? The man who depends for the preservation of his privileges upon a conductor, instead of the Constitutions, is in a condition of involuntary servitude. He who depends for his rights—not upon the laws of the land, but upon a landlord, is in a condition of involuntary servitude.
The framers of the 13th Amendment knew that the negro would be persecuted on account of his race and color—knew that many of the States could not be trusted to protect the right of the colored man; and for that reason, the general government was clothed with power to protect the colored people from all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude.
Of what use are the declarations in the constitution that slavery and involuntary servitude shall not exist, and that all persons born or naturalized in the United States shall be citizens—not only of the United States, but of the States in which they reside—if, behind these declarations, there is no power to act—no duty for the general government to discharge?
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