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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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United States, and provided expressly that: "All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, privileges, and facilities of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres and other places of public amusement, without regard to race or color." And yet, the Supreme Court said: "No carrier of passengers can conduct his business with satisfaction to himself, or comfort to those employing him, if on one side of a State line his passengers, both white and colored, must be permitted to occupy the same cabin, and on the other to be kept separate." What ride had the other State to pass a law that passengers should be kept separate, on account of race or color? How could such a law have been constitutional? The Civil Rights Act applied to all States, and to both sides of the lines between all States, and produced absolute uniformity—and did not put the caption to the trouble of dividing his passengers. The court further said: "Uniformity in the regulations by which the carrier is to be governed from one end to the other of his route, is a necessity in his business." The uniformity had been guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act, and the statute of the State of Louisiana was in exact conformity with the 14th Amendment , and the Civil Rights Act. The Court also said: "And to secure uniformity, Congress, which is untrammeled by State lines, has been invested with the exclusive power of determining what such regulations shall be."
Yes. Congress has been invested with such power, and Congress has used it in passing the Civil Rights Act—and yet, under these circumstances, the court proceeds to imagine the difficulty that a captain would have in dividing his passengers as he crosses a State line, keeping them apart until he reaches the line of another State, and then bringing them together, and so going on through the process of dispersing and huddling, to the end of his unfortunate route!
It is held by the Supreme Court, that uniformity of duties is essential to the carrier, and so essential, that Congress has control of the whole matter. If uniformity as to the rights of passengers is equally desirable—and under the 13th and 14th Amendments, Congress has the exclusive power to state what the rights, privileges, and immunities of passengers shall be. So that, in 1877, the Supreme Court decided that the States could not legislate—and in 1883, that Congress could not, unless the State had!. If Congress controls the inter-state commerce upon the navigable waters, it also controls inter-state commerce upon the railways. And if Congress has exclusive jurisdiction in the one case, it has in the other. And if it has exclusive ju-
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