Brazilian Slave Emancipation Act 1888

The Brazilian Slave Emancipation Act 1888

Brazilian Slave Emancipation Act 1888
Slaves on a coffee farm in Brazil, c. 1885, in a photograph by Marc Ferrez.
Brazilian Slave Emancipation Act 1888

Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil (1846–1921)

Brazilian Princess Isabel of Bragança signed Imperial Law number 3,353 on May 13, 1888. It is one of the most important pieces of law in Brazilian history, despite having just 18 words. It was known as the “Golden Law” since it eliminated slavery in all of its manifestations. Slavery was at the center of the Brazilian economy for 350 years.

According to historian Emilia Viotti da Costa, Brazil was home to 40% of the 10 million enslaved Africans carried to the New World. Enslaved people were so important to the economy that Ina von Binzer, a German schoolteacher who resided in Brazil in the late 1800s, wrote: “The Blacks hold the principal function in this country.” They are the ones that perform all of the labor and generate all of the money in this country. “It’s just not working with the white Brazilian.”

Abolition had the support of the majority of Brazilians by 1888, including numerous conservative groups, marking the end of a lengthy period of societal and economic transformation. Slavery had already begun to decline by the time it was abolished, due to agricultural modernisation and increased migration from rural regions to Brazil’s cities.

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The Interstate Commerce Act 1887

The Interstate Commerce Act 1887

The Interstate Commerce Act 1887
Unfair and haphazard business practices by the railroad companies prompted Congress to enact the Interstate Commerce Act. Carleton Watkins (1829–1916) took this photo of a trestle on the Central Pacific Railroad in 1877.
The Interstate Commerce Act 1887

The Interstate Commerce Act, passed on February 4, 1887, established an Interstate Commerce Commission to monitor the railroad industry’s operations. The railways were the first industry to be regulated by the federal government as a result of this act.

The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 made railways the first business to be regulated by the federal government. The law was primarily enacted in reaction to public demand for train activities to be controlled. The legislation also established the Interstate Commerce Commission, a five-member enforcement body. Railroads were privately owned and uncontrolled in the years following the Civil War. In the areas that they solely served, train firms had a natural monopoly.

Monopolies are often thought to be bad because they inhibit free competition, which affects the price and quality of goods and services available to the general population. In some geographic areas, railroad monopolies possessed the capacity to set prices, exclude rivals, and dominate the market. Although railroads competed for long-haul routes, there was little rivalry for short-haul ones. By granting rebates to major shippers or purchasers, railroads discriminated in the rates they charged passengers and shippers in various areas. These techniques were particularly detrimental to American farmers, who lacked the requisite export volume to gain better rates.

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Equal Protection Rights 1886

Equal Protection Rights 1886

Equal Protection Rights 1886
In 1880, a San Francisco law specifically targeted Chinese laundries like this one, precipitating a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that extended the Constitution’s equal protection clause to all American residents.
Equal Protection Rights 1886

Yick Wo v. Hopkins

Facts of the case

In 1880, the city of San Francisco passed a law requiring all laundries in wooden structures to have a permit granted by the city’s Board of Supervisors. The board had complete control over who received a permission. Despite the fact that Chinese workers operated 89 percent of the city’s laundry companies, no Chinese owners were given a permit. Yick Wo and Wo Lee ran washing companies without a permission and were imprisoned by the city’s sheriff, Peter Hopkins, after refusing to pay a $10 fee.

Each filed a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that the ordinance’s fines and unequal enforcement violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court of California and the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California, respectively, dismissed claims for Yick Wo and Wo Lee, citing the law’s nondiscriminatory nature on its face.

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The Civil Rights Cases 1883

The Civil Rights Cases 1883

The Civil Rights Cases 1883
The Civil Rights Cases 1883 image source: prezi.com

The Civil Rights Cases are a group of five lawsuits that were merged in front of the Supreme Court to determine whether the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was constitutional:

United States v. Stanley;

United States v. Ryan;

United States v. Nichols;

United States v. Singleton;

and

Robinson and wife v. Memphis & Charleston R.R. Co.

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The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882

The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882

The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882
Suey Kee Lung (c. 1912) was one of many Chinese immigrants arrested for illegal entry into America.
The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first major immigration restriction in the United States. Many Americans on the West Coast blamed Chinese laborers for their low incomes and economic woes. Despite the fact that Chinese people made up only.002% of the population, Congress approved the exclusion legislation to appease labor demands and alleviate widespread worries about protecting white “racial purity.”

Chinese Immigration in America

The mid-nineteenth-century Opium Wars between Great Britain and China (1839-42, 1856-60) left China in debt. Floods and droughts forced peasants to abandon their crops, and many fled the nation in search of work. When gold was found in California’s Sacramento Valley in 1848, a massive influx of Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States to participate in the California Gold Rush.

Following a harvest collapse in China in 1852, more than 20,000 Chinese immigrants sought work at San Francisco’s customs house (up from 2,716 the previous year). Violence erupted quickly between white miners and the newcomers, much of it ethnically motivated. California implemented a $3 monthly Foreign Miners Tax in May 1852, targeting Chinese miners, and crime and violence increased.

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The Insanity Defense 1881 – US

The Insanity Defense 1881 – US

The Insanity Defense 1881 - US
Puck magazine commissioned this caricature of Guiteau for its July 13, 1881, cover. – The Insanity Defense 1881 – US

James Garfield (1831–1881), Charles Guiteau (1841–1882), United States v. Guiteau

In 1843, England was the birthplace of the insanity defense as a legal notion. Daniel M’Naghten attempted to murder British Prime Minister David Cameron, whom he claimed was plotting against him. The court acquitted him due to his psychosis, establishing the Mr. M’Naghten Rule.

It requires that a defendant be found not guilty of an offense if, at the time of the offense, his mental illness was severe enough to (1) impair his ability to know or understand the nature or quality of his criminal behavior, and (2) to jeopardize his ability to know or understand the legal or moral wrongfulness of his actions. In the United States, this two-pronged rule established the legal standard for an insanity defense.

After assassinating President James Garfield on July 2, 1881, a jury in the United States had to weigh the destiny of Charles Guiteau. Mr. Guiteau claimed to be an emissary of God when he shot the President throughout his trial.

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Victor Hugo & Berne Convention 1878

Victor Hugo & Berne Convention 1878

Victor Hugo (1802–1885)

Victor Hugo & Berne Convention 1878
Victor Hugo & Berne Convention 1878

Hugo was a well-known French novelist who was noted not just for his literary works but also for his pivotal role in rallying support for worldwide author rights protection.

Internationally recognized authors were becoming increasingly worried about unauthorised copying of their works in other countries at the time, but existing bilateral copyright treaties were complex and difficult to enforce. They founded the International Literary Association in Paris in 1878, under Hugo’s guidance.

The committee produced a draft text of an international copyright agreement during its 1883 conference in Berne, which Hugo presided over.They urged the Swiss government to hold an international conference, based on the draft, to establish an international copyright convention. Worldwide discussions proceeded in Berne for the next three years, culminating in the signing of the Berne Convention in 1886, which laid the groundwork for international copyright protection.

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