Friday, March 27, 2009

The First Civil Rights

On March 27th 1866 President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 on grounds that it was unconstitutional.

As a counter measure against the Black Codes which had been enacted in the former slave states following the passage of the 13th Amendment, the Republican controlled Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Included in this act were rights that included the ability to make contracts, sue, own private property, inherit, and be witness in court. President Johnson vetoed the bill because it would “operate in favor of the colored and against the white race”, and he didn't believe blacks had the qualifications to be United States citizens. Fortunately the Republican’s had enough votes in congress to override the Presidential Veto, and the Act passed on April 9th 1866. This Civil Rights Act of 1866 was strongly undermined by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and in the end failed.

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