Key facts about the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
- On January 5, 1866 Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull introduced “A Bill to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish a means for their vindication.”
- The U.S. Senate approved the Civil Rights Act of 1866 on February 2, 1866.
- The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Civil Rights Act of 1866 on March 13, 1866.
- President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 on March 27, 1866.
- Opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 argued that Congress did not have authority to enact the proposal because the constitutional power to protect or extend the civil rights of individuals was vested in the states, not the federal government.
- Congress voted to override President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 on April 9, 1866.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1866 validated the citizenship of former slaves and endowed them with specific, federally guaranteed, civil rights. The act also established various methods of enforcement by executive and judicial officials, and imposed penalties and punishments on officials for failing to enforce the law.
- Due to concerns about constitutional challenges to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the measure was superseded in 1868 by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which duplicated much of the original act’s intent.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1866 affirmed that former slaves possessed the same legal rights as whites, but it said nothing in regard to their political or social rights.