KC Johnson

Reconstruction

Quiz #6 today

1876 election--final Electoral College allocation

1876 election--final Electoral College allocation

Declining Southern support for GOP, 1876 election

Declining Southern support for GOP, 1876 election

Kyvig, Explicit & Authentic Acts, pp. 154-187.

Harper’s Weekly on the disputed election of 1876.

Plus three documents–the 14th amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which represented the high point of civil rights legal and constitutional change during Reconstruction; and the Cruikshank decision, which helped usher the era to a close.

———

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

———

The Civil Rights Act, 1866

(from U.S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 14:27)

An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their Vindication.

Be it enacted, That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of the laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any inhabitant of any State or Territory to the deprivation of any right secured or protected by this act, or to different punishment, pains, or penalties on account of such person having at any time been held in a condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for any crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, or by reason of his color or race, than is prescribed for the punishment of white persons, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be punished by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, in the discretion of the court.

Sec. 3 And be it further enacted, That the district courts of the United States, … shall have, exclusively of the courts of the several States, cognizance of all crimes and offenses committed against the provisions of this act, and also, concurrently with the circuit courts of the United States, of all causes, civil and criminal, affecting persons who are denied or cannot enforce in the courts or judicial tribunals of the State or locality where they may be any of the rights secured to them by the first section of this act….

Sec. 4 And be it further enacted, That the district attorneys, marshals, and deputy marshals of the United States, the commissioners appointed by the circuit and territorial courts of the United States, with power of arresting, imprisoning, or bailing offenders against the laws of the United States, the officers and agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and every other officer who may be specially empowered by the President of the United States, shall be, and they are hereby specially authorized and required, at the expense of the United States, to institute proceedings against all and every person who shall violate the provisions of this act, and cause him or them to be arrested and imprisoned, or bailed, as the case may be, for trial before such court of the United States or territorial court as by this act has cognizance of the offense….

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That the whenever the President of the United States shall have reason to believe that offenses have or are likely to be committed against the provisions of this act within any judicial district, it shall be lawful for him, in his discretion, to direct the judge, marshal, and district attorney of such district to attend at such place within the district, and for such time as he may designate, for the purpose of more speedy arrest and trial of persons charged with a violation of this act; and it shall be the duty of every judge or other officer, when any such requisition shall be received by him, to attend at the place and for the time therein designated.

Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, or such person as he may empower for that purpose, to employ such part of the land of naval forces of the United States, or of the militia, as shall be necessary to prevent the violation and enforce the due execution of this act.

Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That upon all questions of law arising in any cause under the provisions of this act a final appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.

———

[The Cruikshank case did more to gut the civil rights laws than any decision until Plessy v. Ferguson a generation later. The decision begins by listing the charges brought against the defendants and summarizing the Enforcement Act, a key piece of Reconstruction legislation that gave to the federal government the power to enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.]

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Louisiana.

This was an indictment for conspiracy under the sixth section of the act of May 30, 1870, known as the Enforcement Act (16 Stat. 140), and consisted of thirty-two counts.

The first count was for banding together, with intent ‘unlawfully and feloniously to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate’ two citizens of the United States, ‘of African descent and persons of color,’ ‘with the unlawful and felonious intent thereby’ them ‘to hinder and prevent in their respective free exercise and enjoyment of their lawful right and privilege to peaceably assemble together with each other and with other citizens of the said United States for a peaceable and lawful purpose.’

The second avers an intent to hinder and prevent the exercise by the same persons of the ‘right to keep and bear arms for a lawful purpose.’

The third avers an intent to deprive the same persons ‘of their respective several lives and liberty of person, without due process of law.’

The fourth avers an intent to deprive the same persons of the ‘free exercise and enjoyment of the right and privilege to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property’ enjoyed by white citizens.

The fifth avers an intent to hinder and prevent the same persons ‘in the exercise and enjoyment of the rights, privileges, immunities, and protection granted and secured to them respectively as citizens of the said United States, and as citizens of the said State of Louisiana, by reason of and for and on account of the race and color’ of the said persons.

The sixth avers an intent to hinder and prevent the same persons in ‘the free exercise and enjoyment of the several and respective right and privilege to vote at any election to be thereafter by law had and held by the people in and of the said State of Louisiana.’

The seventh avers an intent ‘to put in great fear of bodily harm, injure, and oppress’ the same persons, ‘because and for the reason’ that, having the right to vote, they had voted.

The eighth avers an intent ‘to prevent and hinder’ the same persons ‘in their several and respective free exercise and enjoyment of every, each, all, and singular and several rights and privileges granted and secured’ to them ‘by the constitution and laws of the United States.’

. . .

[And now, for the Court’s basic findings.]

1. Citizens are the members of the political community to which they belong. They are the people who compose the community, and who, in their associated capacity, have established or submitted themselves to the dominion of a government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as their collective rights. The duty of a government to afford protection is limited always by the power it possesses for that purpose.

2. There is in our political system a government of each of the several States, and a government of the United States. Each is distinct from the others, and has citizens of its own, who owe it allegiance, and whose rights, within its jurisdiction, it must protect. The same person may be at the same time a citizen of the United States and a citizen of a State; but his rights of citizenship under one of these governments will be different from those he has under the other.

3. The government of the United States, although it is, within the scope of its powers, supreme and beyond the States, can neither grant nor secure to its citizens rights or privileges which are not expressly or by implication placed under its jurisdiction. All that cannot be so granted or secured are left to the exclusive protection of the States.

4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble for lawful purposes, with the obligation on the part of the States to afford it protection, existed long before the adoption of the Constitution. The first amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting Congress from abridging the right to assemble and petition, was not intended to limit the action of the State governments in respect to their own citizens, but to operate upon the national government alone. It left the authority of the States unimpaired, added nothing to the already existing powers of the United States, and guaranteed the continuance of the right only against Congressional interference. The people, for their protection in the enjoyment of it, must, therefore, look to the States, where the power for that purpose was originally placed.

5. The right of the people peaceably to assemble, for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances, or for any thing else connected with the powers or duties of the national government, is an attribute of national citizenship, and, as such, under the protection of and guaranteed by the United States. The very idea of a government republican in form implies that right, and an invasion of it presents a case within the sovereignty of the United States.

6. The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.

7. Sovereignty, for the protection of the rights of life and personal liberty within the respective States, rests alone with the States.

8. The fourteenth amendment prohibits a State from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and from denying to (p.543)any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws; but it adds nothing to the rights of one citizen as against another. It simply furnishes an additional guaranty against any encroachment by the States upon the fundamental rights which belong to every citizen as a member of society. The duty of protecting all its citizens in the enjoyment of an equality of rights was originally assumed by the States, and it still remains there. The only obligation resting upon the United States is to see that the States do not deny the right. This the amendment guarantees, but no more. The power of the national government is limited to the enforcement of this guaranty.

9. In Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 178, this court decided that the Constitution of the United States has not conferred the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the United States have no voters of their own creation in the States. In United States v. Reese et al., supra, p. 214, it held that the fifteenth amendment has invested the citizens of the United States with a new constitutional right, which is, exemption from discrimination in the exercise of the elective franchise on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The right to vote in the States comes from the States; but the right of exemption from the prohibited discrimination comes from the United States. The first has not been granted or secured by the Constitution of the United States, but the last has been.

10. The counts of an indictment which charge the defendants with having banded and conspired to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate citizens of the United States, of African descent, therein named; and which in substance respectively allege that the defendants intended thereby to hinder and prevent such citizens in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights and privileges granted and secured to them in common with other good citizens by the constitution and laws of the United States; to hinder and prevent them in the free exercise of their right peacefully to assemble for lawful purposes; prevent and hinder them from bearing arms for lawful purposes; deprive them of their respective several lives and liberty of person without due process of law; prevent and hinder them in the free exercise and enjoyment of their several right to the full and equal benefit of the law; prevent and hinder them in the free exercise and enjoyment of their several and respective right to vote at any election to be thereafter by law had and held by the people in and of the State of Louisiana, or to put them in great fear of bodily harm, and to injure and oppress them, because, being and having been in all things qualified, they had voted at an election theretofore had and held according to law by the people of said State,–do not present a case within the sixth section of the Enforcement Act of May 31, 1870 (16 Stat. 141). To bring a case within the operation of that statute, it must appear that the right the enjoyment of which the conspirators intended to hinder or prevent was one granted or secured by the constitution or laws of the United States. If it does not so appear, the alleged offence is not indictable under any act of Congress.

11. The counts of an indictment which, in general language, charge the defendants with an intent to hinder and prevent citizens of the United States, of African descent, therein named, in the free exercise and enjoyment of the rights, privileges, immunities, and protection, granted and secured to them (p.544)respectively as citizens of the United States, and of the State of Louisiana, because they were persons of African descent, and with the intent to hinder and prevent them in the several and free exercise and enjoyment of every, each, all, and singular the several rights and privileges granted and secured to them by the constitution and laws of the United States, do not specify any particular right the enjoyment of which the conspirators intended to hinder or prevent, are too vague and general, lack the certainty and precision required by the established rules of criminal pleading, and are therefore not good and sufficient in law.

12. In criminal cases, prosecuted under the laws of the United States, the accused has the constitutional right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” The indictment must set forth the offence with clearness and all necessary certainty, to apprise the accused of the crime with which he stands charged; and every ingredient of which the offence is composed must be accurately and clearly alleged. It is an elementary principle of criminal pleading, that, where the definition of an offence, whether it be at common law or by statute, includes generic terms, it is not sufficient that the indictment shall charge the offence in the same generic terms as in the definition, but it must state the species,–it must descend to particulars. The object of the indictment is,–first, to furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as will enable him to make his defence, and avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for protection against a further prosecution for the same Cause; and, second, to inform the court of the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to support a conviction, if one should be had. For this, facts are to be stated, not conclusions of law alone. A crime is made up of acts and intent; and these must be set forth in the indictment, with reasonable particularity of time, place, and circumstances.

13. By the act under which this indictment was found, the crime is made to consist in the unlawful combination with an intent to prevent the enjoyment of any right granted or secured by the Constitution, &c. All rights are not so granted or secured. Whether one is so or not is a question of law, to be decided by the court. The indictment should, therefore, state the particulars, to inform the court as well as the accused. It must appear from the indictment that the acts charged will, if proved, support a conviction for the offence alleged.

Mr. Chief Justice Waite delivered the opinion of the court.

. . . We have in our political system a government of the United States and a Government of each of the several States. Each one of these Governments is distinct from the others, and each has citizens of its own who owe it allegiance, and whose rights, within its jurisdiction, it must protect. The same person may be at the same time a citizen of the United States and a citizen of a State, but his rights of citizenship under one of these Governments will be different from those he has under the other. Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 74.

Citizens are the members of the political community to which they belong. They are the people who compose the community, and who, in their associated capacity, have established or submitted themselves to the dominion of a government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as their collective rights. In the formation of a Government, the people may confer upon it such powers as they choose. The government, when so formed, may, and when called upon should, exercise all the powers it has for the protection of the rights of its citizens and the people within its jurisdiction; but it can exercise no other. The duty of a government to afford protection is limited always by the power it possesses for that purpose.

Experience made the fact known to the people of the United States that they required a national government for national purposes. The separate governments of the separate States, bound together by the articles of confederation alone, were not sufficient for the promotion of the general welfare of the people in respect to foreign nations, or for their complete protection as citizens of the confederated States. For this reason, the people of the United States, “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and their posterity (Const. Preamble), ordained and established the government of the United States, and defined its powers by a constitution, which they adopted as its fundamental law, and made its rule of action.

The Government thus established and defined is to some extent a government of the States in their political capacity. It is also, for certain purposes, a government of the people. Its powers are limited in number, but not in degree. Within the scope of its powers, as enumerated and defined, it is supreme and above the States; but beyond, it has no existence. It was erected for special purposes, and endowed with all the powers necessary for its own preservation and the accomplishment of the ends its people had in view. It can neither grant nor secure to its citizens any right or privilege not expressly or by implication placed under its jurisdiction.

The people of the United States resident within any State are subject to two Governments: one State, and the other National; but there need be no conflict between the two. The powers which one possesses, the other does not. They are established for different purposes, and have separate jurisdictions. Together they make one whole, and furnish the people of the United States with a complete government, ample for the protection of all their rights at home and abroad. True, it may sometimes happen that a person is amenable to both jurisdictions for one and the same act. Thus, if a marshal of the United States is unlawfully resisted while executing the process of the courts within a State, and the resistance is accompanied by an assault on the officer, the sovereignty of the United States is violated by the resistance, and that of the State by the breach of peace, in the assault. So, too, if one passes counterfeited coin of the United States within a State, it may be an offence against the United States and the State: the United States, because it discredits the coin; and the State, because of the fraud upon him to whom it is passed. This does not, however, necessarily imply that the two governments possess powers in common, or bring them into conflict with each other. It is the natural consequence of a citizenship (p.551)which owes allegiance to two sovereignties, and claims protection from both. The citizen cannot complain, because he has voluntarily submitted himself to such a form of government. He owes allegiance to the two departments, so to speak, and within their respective spheres must pay the penalties which each exacts for disobedience to its laws. In return, he can demand protection from each within its own jurisdiction.

The government of the United States is one of delegated powers alone. Its authority is defined and limited by the Constitution. All powers not granted to it by that instrument are reserved to the States or the people. No rights can be acquired under the constitution or laws of the United States, except such as the Government of the United States has the authority to grant or secure. All that cannot be so granted or secured are left under the protection of the States . . .

The fourteenth amendment prohibits a State from denying to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws; but this provision does not, any more than the one which precedes it, and which we have just considered, add any thing (p.555)to the rights which one citizen has under the Constitution against another. The equality of the rights of citizens is a principle of republicanism. Every republican government is in duty bound to protect all its citizens in the enjoyment of this principle, if within its power. That duty was originally assumed by the States; and it still remains there. The only obligation resting upon the United States is to see that the States do not deny the right. This the amendment guarantees, but no more. The power of the national government is limited to the enforcement of this guaranty.

No question arises under the Civil Rights Act of April 9, 1866 (14 Stat. 27), which is intended for the protection of citizens of the United States in the enjoyment of certain rights, without discrimination on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, because, as has already been stated, it is nowhere alleged in these counts that the wrong contemplated against the rights of these citizens was on account of their race or color . . .

. . . According to the view we take of these counts, the question is not whether it is enough, in general, to describe a statutory offence in the language of the statute, but whether the offence has here been described at all. The statute provides for the punishment of those who conspire “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise and enjoyment of any right or privilege granted or secured to him by the constitution or laws of the United States.” These counts in the indictment charge, in substance, that the intent in this case was to hinder and prevent these citizens in the free exercise and enjoyment of “every, each, all, and singular” the rights granted them by the Constitution, &c. There is no specification of any particular right. The language is broad enough to cover all.

In criminal cases, prosecuted under the laws of the United States, the accused has the constitutional right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” Amend. VI. In United States v. Mills, 7 Pet. 142, this was construed to mean, that the indictment must set forth the offence “with clearness and all necessary certainty, to apprise the accused of the crime with which be stands charged;” and in United States v. Cook, 17 Wall. 174, that “every ingredient of which the offence is composed must be accurately and clearly alleged.” It is an elementary principle of criminal pleading, that where the definition of an offence, whether it be at common law or by statute, “includes generic terms, it is not sufficient that the indictment shall charge the offence in the same generic terms as in the definition; but it must state the species,–it must descend to particulars. 1 Arch. Cr. Pr. and Pl., 291. The object of the indictment is, first, to furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as will enable him to make his defence, and avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for protection against a further prosecution for the same cause; and, second, to inform the court of the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to support a conviction, if one should be had. For this, facts are to be stated, not conclusions of law alone. A crime is made up of acts and intent; and these must be set forth in the indictment, with reasonable particularity of time, place, and circumstances.

It is a crime to steal goods and chattels; but an indictment would be bad that did not specify with some degree of certainty the articles stolen. This, because the accused must be advised of the essential particulars of the charge against him, and the court must be able to decide whether the property taken was such as was the subject of larceny. So, too, it is in some States a crime for two or more persons to conspire to cheat and defraud another out of his property; but it his been held that an indictment for such an offence must contain allegations setting forth the means proposed to be used to accomplish the purpose. This, because, to make such a purpose criminal, the conspiracy must be to cheat and defraud in a mode made criminal by statute; and as all cheating and defrauding has not been made criminal, it is necessary for the indictment to state the means proposed, in order that the court (p.559)may see that they are in fact illegal. State v. Parker, 43 N. H. 83; State v. Keach, 40 Vt. 118; Alderman v. The People, 4 Mich. 414; State v. Roberts, 34 Me. 32. In Maine, it is an offence for two or more to conspire with the intent unlawfully and wickedly to commit any crime punishable by imprisonment in the State prison (State v. Roberts); but we think it will hardly be claimed that an indictment would be good under this statute, which charges the object of the conspiracy to have been “unlawfully and wickedly to commit each, every, all, and singular the crimes punishable by imprisonment in the State prison.” All crimes are not so punishable. Whether a particular crime be such a one or not, is a question of law. The accused has, therefore, the right to have a specification of the charge against him in this respect, in order that he may decide whether he should present his defence by motion to quash, demurrer, or plea; and the court, that it may determine whether the facts will sustain the indictment. So here, the crime is made to consist in the unlawful combination with an intent to prevent the enjoyment of any right granted or secured by the Constitution, &c. All rights are not so granted or secured. Whether one is so or not is a question of law, to be decided by the court, not the prosecutor. Therefore, the indictment should state the particulars, to inform the court as well as the accused. It must be made to appear–that is to say, appear from the indictment, without going further–that the acts charged will, if proved, support a conviction for the offence alleged.

But it is needless to pursue the argument further. The conclusion is irresistible, that these counts are too vague and general. They lack the certainty and precision required by the established rules of criminal pleading. It follows that they are not good and sufficient in law. They are so defective that no judgment of conviction should be pronounced upon them.

The order of the Circuit Court arresting the judgment upon the verdict is, therefore, affirmed; and the cause remanded, with instructions to discharge the defendants.

3 Responses

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  1. kcjohnson9 said, on March 4, 2009 at 6.35pm

    Given the passage of the 13th-15th amendments, should historians view Reconstruction as a failure?

  2. Robert Hom said, on March 4, 2009 at 8.25pm

    It depends on one’s view of the purpose of Reconstruction. While Congress was able to the 13-15th amendments, these amendments were basically toothless. The 14th amendment, which was meant to guarantee and protect the rights of minorities, was generally used to protect the interests of business over state regulations. Meanwhile, the court refused to see the 14th amendment as incorporating the Bill of Rights to the states. As such, African-Americans were held prisoner by State authorities. Furthermore, Reconstruction did not change anything. Sure, African Americans were freed. But most of them became sharecroppers/tenant farmers. Also, Jim Crow legislation terrorized African Americans and weakened their political power in the South. Once the federal government left the South, they basically handed African Americans over to State authorities, which had no interest in protecting African Americans. While the 13th-15th Amendments were important amendments, it was not until the early twentieth century that they were used to help African Americans.

  3. Matt Vadala said, on March 5, 2009 at 4.08pm

    By no means should historians view the ratifications of the Recon Amendments as a failure. Two major hurdles were overcome in the 13th and 14th amendment’s mandates of non-discrimination because of race, and the assurance of the right to vote for citizens. Reconstruction means to rebuild what once was. There once was a union and the denial of rights and recognition to a race was the reason why there was demolition. Reconstruction brought about the union that once was, and had done so even stronger than before. With the first two amendments, wrongs were righted. The third accomplishes a reinforcement of what was intended to be brought about. The third, meaning the 15th amendment, ensures that if there is a discrepancy with the enforcement of the 13th of 14th amendments, that congress may take action to enforce the legislation. By all means, this is indeed a victory for the 19th century.


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