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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 (31).pdf

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Current Saved Transcription [history]

of the United States are equal. Their immunities and privileges must be the same. He who makes a discrimination between citizens on account of color, violates the Constitution of the United States.

Have all citizens the same right to travel on the highways of the country? Have they all the same right to ride upon the railways created by State authority? A railway is an improved highway. It was only by holding that it was an improved highway that counties and States aided in their construction. It has been decided, over and over again, that a railway in an improved highway. A railway corporation is the creation of a State--an agent of the State. It is under the control of the State--and upon what principle can a citizen be prevented from using the highways of a State on an equality with all other citizens?

These are all rights and immunities guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Now the question is--and it is the only question--can these rights and immunities, thus guaranteed and thus confirmed, be protected by the general Government?

In the case of The U.S. vs. Reese, et al., 92 U. S., p.207, the Supreme Court decided, the opinion having been delivered by Chief-Justice Waite, as follows:

"Rights and immunities created by, and dependent upon, the Constitution of the United States can be protected by Congress. The form and the manner of the protection may be such as Congress in the legitimate exercise of its legislative discretion shall provide. This may be varied to meet the necessities of the particular right to be protected."

This decision was acquiesced in by Justice Strong, Bradley, Swayne, Davis, Miller and Field. Dissenting opinions were filed by Justices Clifford and Hunt, but neither dissented from the proposition that "rights and immunities created by or dependent upon the Constitution of the United States can be protected by Congress," and that "the form and manner of the protection may be such as Congress in the exercise of its legitimate discretion shall provide."

So, in the same case, I find this language:

"It follows that the Amendment" - meaning the 15th - "has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional right, which is within the protecting power of Congress. This, under the express provisions of the second section of the Amendment, Congress may enforce by appropriate legislation."

If the 15th Amendment invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional right - that is the right to vote - and if for that reason that right is within the protecting power

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