The Civil Rights Act of 1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 South Carolina congressman Robert B. Elliott delivering his famous speech in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in the House of Representatives on January 6, 1874.

Lyman Trumbull (1813–1896), Andrew Johnson (1808–1875)

“Without difference of race or color, or previous state of slavery or involuntary servitude,” the Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared all people born in the United States to be citizens. Although President Andrew Johnson vetoed the bill, the 39th United States Congress overrode his veto, and the bill became law. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the first civil rights statute in the United States.

Background

Following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Andrew Johnson took a moderate approach to Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War. Former Confederate states were expected to preserve abolition, vow devotion to the United States, and pay their war debts in order to re-enter the Union.

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