On this day:
1866 – President Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866. His veto is overridden by Congress and the bill passes into law on April 9.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27-30, enacted April 9, 1866, was the first United States federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law. It was mainly intended to protect the civil rights of persons of African descent born in or brought to America, in the wake of the American Civil War. This legislation was enacted by Congress in 1865 but vetoed by President Andrew Johnson. In April 1866 Congress again passed the bill. Although Johnson again vetoed it, a two-thirds majority in each chamber overcame the veto and the bill therefore became law.
John Bingham and some other congressmen argued that Congress did not yet have sufficient constitutional power to enact this law. Following passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, Congress reenacted the 1866 Act in 1870.
Introduction and amendment
The author of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was Senator Lyman Trumbull, who introduced the bill in the Senate. Congressman James F. Wilson summarized what he considered to be the purpose of the act as follows, when he introduced the bill in the House of Representatives:
It provides for the equality of citizens of the United States in the enjoyment of “civil rights and immunities.” What do these terms mean? Do they mean that in all things civil, social, political, all citizens, without distinction of race or color, shall be equal? By no means can they be so construed. Do they mean that all citizens shall vote in the several States? No; for suffrage is a political right which has been left under the control of the several States, subject to the action of Congress only when it becomes necessary to enforce the guarantee of a republican form of government (protection against a monarchy). Nor do they mean that all citizens shall sit on the juries, or that their children shall attend the same schools. The definition given to the term “civil rights” in Bouvier’s Law Dictionary is very concise, and is supported by the best authority. It is this: “Civil rights are those which have no relation to the establishment, support, or management of government.”
During the subsequent legislative process, the following key provision was deleted: “there shall be no discrimination in civil rights or immunities among the inhabitants of any State or Territory of the United States on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” John Bingham was an influential supporter of this deletion, on the ground that courts might construe the term “civil rights” more broadly than people like Wilson intended. Weeks later, Senator Trumbull described the bill’s intended scope:
This bill in no manner interferes with the municipal regulations of any State which protects all alike in their rights of person and property. It could have no operation in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, or most of the States of the Union.
The next day, on April 5, 1866, the Senate overrode President Johnson’s veto. This marked the first time that the U.S. Congress ever overrode a president’s veto for a major piece of legislation.
Formally titled “An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their vindication”, the Act declared that people born in the United States are not subject to any foreign power are entitled to be citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude. A similar provision (called the Citizenship Clause) was written a few months later into the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 also said that any citizen has the same right that a white citizen has to make and enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court, and inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property. Additionally, the Act guaranteed to all citizens the “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and … like punishment, pains, and penalties…” Persons who denied these rights on account of race or previous enslavement were guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction faced a fine not exceeding $1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.
The Act used language very similar to that of the Equal Protection Clause in the newly proposed Fourteenth Amendment. In particular, the Act discussed the need to provide “reasonable protection to all persons in their constitutional rights of equality before the law, without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. …”
This statute was a major part of general federal policy during Reconstruction, and was closely related to the Second Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866. According to Congressman John Bingham, “the seventh and eighth sections of the Freedmen’s Bureau bill enumerate the same rights and all the rights and privileges that are enumerated in the first section of this [the Civil Rights] bill.”
Parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 are still in effect in the 21st century, according to the United States Code:
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.
This section of the United States Code, § 1981, is based on section one of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Enactment, constitutionalization, and reenactment
Senator Lyman Trumbull was the Senate sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and he argued that Congress had power to enact it in order to eliminate a discriminatory “badge of servitude” prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment. John A. Bingham, principal author of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, was one of several Republicans who believed (prior to that Amendment) that Congress lacked power to pass the 1866 Act. In the 20th century, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately adopted Trumbull’s Thirteenth Amendment rationale for congressional power to ban racial discrimination by states and by private parties, in view of the fact that the Thirteenth Amendment does not require a state actor.
To the extent that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 may have been intended to go beyond preventing discrimination, by conferring particular rights on all citizens, the constitutional power of Congress to do that was more questionable. For example, Congressman William Lawrence argued that Congress had power to enact the statute because of the Privileges and Immunities Clause in Article IV of the original unamended Constitution, even though courts had suggested otherwise.
In any event, there is currently no consensus that the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 actually purports to confer any legal benefits upon white citizens. Congressman Samuel Shellabarger said that it did not.
After the Civil Rights Act of 1866 had been enacted into law over President Andrew Johnson’s veto, some members of Congress voted for the Fourteenth Amendment in order to eliminate doubts about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, or to ensure that no subsequent Congress could later repeal or alter the main provisions of that Act. Thus, the Citizenship Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment parallels citizenship language in the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and likewise the Equal Protection Clause parallels nondiscrimination language in the 1866 Act; the extent to which other clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment may have incorporated elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 is a matter of continuing debate.
Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment was completed in 1868. Two years later, the 1866 Act was reenacted, as Section 18 of the Enforcement Act of 1870.
Aftermath and consequences
The activities of insurgent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) undermined the act; and it failed to immediately secure the civil rights of African Americans. Since 1866 it has been illegal in the U.S. to discriminate in jobs and housing on the basis of race. However, federal penalties were not provided for, so that remedies were left to the individuals involved. Because those being discriminated against had limited access to legal help, this left many victims of discrimination without recourse. Since the latter half of the 20th century and passage of related civil rights legislation, there have been an increasing number of remedies provided under this act, including the landmark Jones v. Mayer and Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park, Inc. decisions in 1968.
1975 – Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) includes the trans-Alaska crude-oil pipeline, 12 pump stations, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. TAPS is one of the world’s largest pipeline systems. It is commonly called the Alaska pipeline, trans-Alaska pipeline, or Alyeska pipeline, (or the pipeline as referred to in Alaska), but those terms technically apply only to the 800 miles (1,287 km) of the pipeline with the diameter of 48 inches (122 cm) that conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay, to Valdez, Alaska. The crude oil pipeline is privately owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977 after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States. This rise made exploration of the Prudhoe Bay oil field economically feasible. Environmental, legal, and political debates followed the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the pipeline was built only after the oil crisis provoked the passage of legislation designed to remove legal challenges to the project.
In building the pipeline, engineers faced a wide range of difficulties, stemming mainly from the extreme cold and the difficult, isolated terrain. The construction of the pipeline was one of the first large-scale projects to deal with problems caused by permafrost, and special construction techniques had to be developed to cope with the frozen ground. The project attracted tens of thousands of workers to Alaska, causing a boomtown atmosphere in Valdez, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.
The first barrel of oil traveled through the pipeline in 1977, and full-scale production began by the end of the year. Several notable incidents of oil leakage have occurred since, including those caused by sabotage, maintenance failures, and bullet holes. As of 2010, the pipeline had shipped almost 16 billion barrels (2.5×109 m3) of oil.
Born on this day:
1416 – Francis of Paola, Italian friar and saint, founded Order of the Minims (d. 1507)
Saint Francis of Paola, O.M. (or: Francesco di Paola or Saint Francis the Fire Handler; 27 March 1416 – 2 April 1507) was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of Minims. Unlike the majority of founders of men’s religious orders, and like his patron saint, Francis was never ordained a priest.
Francis was born in the town of Paola, which lies in the southern Italian Province of Cosenza, Calabria. In his youth he was educated by the Franciscan friars in Paola. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives: having remained childless for some years after their marriage, they had recourse to prayer and especially commended themselves to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, after whom they named their first-born son. Two other children were eventually born to them.
When still in the cradle, Francis suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year wearing the “little habit” of St Francis in one of the friaries of his Order, a not-uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured.
From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity, and at the age of 13, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a friary of the Franciscan Order to fulfill the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility, and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paola, he selected a secluded cave on his father’s estate and there lived in solitude; but later on he found an even-more secluded cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years, giving himself to prayer and mortification.
In 1435 two companions joined him in his retreat, and to accommodate them Francis caused three cells and a chapel to be built: in this way the new order was begun. By 1436, he and two followers began a movement that would become the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, which would later be renamed as the Minim friars. Their name refers to their role as the “least of all the faithful”. Humility was to be the hallmark of the brothers as it had been in Francis’s personal life. Abstinence from meat and other animal products became a “fourth vow” of his religious order, along with the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Francis instituted the continual, year-round observance of this diet in an effort to revive the tradition of fasting during Lent, which many Roman Catholics had ceased to practice by the 15th century. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. He felt that heroic mortification was necessary as a means for spiritual growth. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world.
The number of his disciples gradually increased, and about 1454, with the permission of Pyrrhus, Archbishop of Cosenza, Francis built a large monastery and church. The building of this monastery was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm and devotion on the part of the people towards Francis: even the nobles carried stones and joined in the work. Their devotion was increased by the many miracles which the saint wrought in answer to their prayers.
In 1474 Pope Sixtus IV gave him permission to write a rule for his community, and to assume the title of Hermits of St. Francis: this rule was formally approved by Pope Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of “Minims”. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established monasteries of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
He was no respecter of persons based solely on their worldly rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered persecution. When King Louis XI of France was in his last illness, he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come until the pope ordered him to go. Embarking at Ostia, he landed in France, and cured many sick of the plague in Provence as he passed. He then went to the king at his residence, the Château de Plessis-lez-Tours (now within the village of La Riche), and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis’s successor, was an admirer of the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for the Minims there near the chateau at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. Francis also forcefully influenced many in the French church, particularly Jan Standonck, who founded the Collège de Montaigu along what he thought were Minimist lines. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the French throne in 1498.
Francis was now eager to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction. Francis spent the last three months of his life in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Holy Thursday of 1507 he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a Vicar General. He then received the last rites and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, he died on 2 April 1507, almost a week after his 91st birthday, in Plessis.
Veganism and compassion towards animals
The two major movements in this order were humility and non-violence. The word “Minim” refers to living as the smallest or least, or embracing humility, simplicity, and plainness. The call to non-violence and absence of cruelty was expressed through veganism, or not doing harm to any creature.
He followed a vegan diet, not only free from animal flesh, but also from all animal-derived foods, such as eggs and dairy products. One of the vows of the order he founded was the abstinence from meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese and milk.