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Proceedings of the Civil Rights Mass-Meeting held at Lincoln Hall, October 22, 1883. Speeches of Hon. Frederick Douglass and Robert G. Ingersoll.

1883DC-National-Washington_Proceedings (30).pdf

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27

of a citizen of the United States—and Congress provided a remedy when such rights and privileges were invaded, and gave jurisdiction to the Federal courts.

No States, nor the department of any State, can authoritatively define the rights, privileges and immunities of a citizen of the United States. These rights and immunities must be defined by the United States, and when so defined, they cannot be abridged by State authority.

In the case of Bartemeyer vs. Iowa, 18 Wall., p. 140, Justice Field, in a concurring opinion, speaking of the 14th Amendment, says: "It grew out of the feeling that a Nation which had been maintained by such costly sacrifices was, after all, worthless, if a citizen could not be protected in all his fundamental rights, everywhere—North and South, East and West—throughout the limits of the Republic. The amendment was not, as held in the opinion of the majority, primarily intended to confer citizenship in the negro race. It had a much broader purpose. It was intended to justify legislation extending the protection of the National government over the common rights of all citizens of the United States, and thus obviate objection to the legislation adopted for the protection of the emancipated race. It was intended to make it possible for all persons—which necessarily included those of every race and color—to live in peace and security wherever the jurisdiction of the Nation reached. It therefore recognized, if it did not create, a national citizenship. This national citizenship is primarily and not secondary."

I cannot refrain from calling attention to the splendor and nobility of the truths expressed by Justice Field in this opinion.

So, Justice Field, in his dissenting opinion in what are known as The Slaughter-House Cases, found in 16 Wallace, p. 95, still speaking of the 14th Amendment, says:

"It recognizes in express terms—if it does not create—citizens of the United States, and it makes their citizenship dependent upon the place of their birth or the fact of their adoption, and not upon the constitution or laws of any State, or the condition of their ancestry. A citizen of a State is now only a citizen of the United States residing in that State. The fundamental rights, privileges and immunities which belong to him as a free man and a free citizen of the United States, are not dependent upon the citizenship of any State.

  • * * They do not derive their existence from its legislation, and cannot be destroyed by its power."

What are "the fundamental rights, privileges and immunities" which belong to a free man? Certainly the rights of all citizens

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