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The Constitution of the State of Mississippi, as Adopted in Convention - Bruce Frohnen, The American Nation: Primary Sources 
The American Nation: Primary Sources, ed. Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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The Constitution of the State of Mississippi, as Adopted in Convention
May 15, 1868
To the end that justice be established, public order maintained, and liberty perpetuated, we, the people of the State of Mississippi, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of Government, do ordain this Constitution.
Bill of Rights
Section 1. All persons resident in this State, citizens of the United States, are hereby declared citizens of the State of Mississippi.
Sec. 2. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, except by due process of law.
Sec. 3. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.
Sec. 4. The freedom of speech and of the press shall be held sacred; and in all indictments for libel, the jury shall determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court.
Sec. 5. No person’s life or liberty shall be twice placed in jeopardy for the same offense.
Sec. 6. The right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government on any subject, shall never be impaired.
Sec. 7. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a right to be heard by himself or counsel, or both; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted by the witnesses against him; to have a compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and in all prosecutions, by indictment or information, a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the county where the offense was committed, and he shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself.
Sec. 8. Cruel or unusual punishment shall not be inflicted, nor shall excessive fines be imposed; excessive bail shall not be required, and all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient securities, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident, or presumption great.
Sec. 9. No ex post facto law or laws impairing the obligation of contracts, shall ever be passed.
Sec. 10. Private property shall not be taken for public use, except upon due compensation first being made to the owner or owners thereof, in a manner to be provided for by law.
Sec. 11. There shall be no imprisonment for debt.
Sec. 12. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
Sec. 13. No property qualification shall ever be required of any person to become a juror.
Sec. 14. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, and possessions, from unreasonable seizure, or search, and no warrant shall be issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, specially designating the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.
Sec. 15. All persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense.
Sec. 16. The rights of married women shall be protected by law, in property owned previous to marriage; and, also in all property acquired in good faith, by purchase, gift, devise, or bequest, after marriage; Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to protect said property from being applied to the payment of their lawful debts.
Sec. 17. No property qualification for eligibility to office shall ever be required.
Sec. 18. No property or educational qualification shall ever be required for any person to become an elector.
Sec. 19. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
Sec. 20. The right to withdraw from the Federal Union, on account of any real or supposed grievances, shall never be assumed by this State, nor shall any law be passed in derogation of the paramount allegiance of the citizens of this State to the Government of the United States.
Sec. 21. No public money or moneys shall be appropriated for charitable or other public institution in this State, making any distinction among the citizens thereof; Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to prevent the Legislature from appropriating the school fund in accordance with the article in this Constitution relating to public schools.
Sec. 22. No distinction shall ever be made by law between citizens and alien friends in reference to the possession, enjoyment or descent of property.
Sec. 23. No religious test as a qualification for office shall ever be required, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect or mode of worship, but the free enjoyment of all religious sentiments and the different modes of worship shall ever be held sacred; Provided, The rights hereby secured, shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the State.
Sec. 24. The right of all citizens to travel upon public conveyances shall not be infringed upon, nor in any manner abridged in this State.
Sec. 25. The military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.
Sec. 26. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against the same, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
Sec. 27. No person’s life shall be periled by the practice of dueling, and any person who shall hereafter fight a duel, or assist in the same, as second, or send, accept, or knowingly carry a challenge therefor, or go out of the State to fight a duel, shall be disqualified from holding any office under this Constitution, and shall forever be disfranchised in this State.
Sec. 28. All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.
Sec. 29. No person shall ever be elected or appointed to any office in this State for life or during good behavior, but the term of all offices shall be for some specified period.
Sec. 30. No person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending any civil cause for or against him or herself, before any tribunal in this State, by him or herself, or counsel or both.
Sec. 31. No person shall, for any indictable offense, be proceeded against criminally by information, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or the militia when in actual service, or by leave of the court, for misdemeanor in office; Provided, That the Legislature in cases of petit larceny, assaults, assault and battery, affray, riot, unlawful assembly, drunkenness, vagrancy, and other misdemeanors of like character, may dispense with an inquest of a grand jury and may authorize prosecutions before Justices of the Peace, or such other inferior court or courts as may be established by the Legislature, and the proceedings in such cases shall be regulated by law.
Sec. 32. The enumeration of rights in this Constitution shall not be construed to deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. . . .
Section 1. All elections by the people shall be by ballot.
Sec. 2. All male inhabitants of this State, except idiots and insane persons, and Indians, not taxed, citizens of the United States, or naturalized, twenty-one years old and upwards, who have resided in this State six months, and in the county one month next preceding the day of election, at which said inhabitant offers to vote, and who are duly registered according to the requirements of section 3 of this article, and who are not disqualified by reason of any crime, are declared to be qualified electors.
Sec. 3. The Legislature shall provide by law for the registration of all persons entitled to vote at any election, and all persons entitled to register shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: “I ——, do solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of Almighty God, that I am twenty-one years old; that I have resided in this State six months, and in —— county one month; that I will faithfully support and obey the Constitution and laws of the United States, and of the State of Mississippi, and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I am not disfranchised in any of the provisions of the acts known as the Reconstruction Acts of the 39th and 40th Congress; and that I admit the political and civil equality of all men; so help me God”; Provided, That if Congress shall, at any time, remove the disabilities of any persons disfranchised in the said Reconstruction Acts of the said 39th and 40th Congress (and the Legislature of this State shall concur therein), then so much of this oath, and so much only, as refers to the said Reconstruction Acts, shall not be required of such person, so pardoned, to entitle him to be registered.
Sec. 4. No person shall be eligible to any office of profit or trust, or to any office in the militia of this State, who is not a qualified elector.
Sec. 5. No person shall be eligible to any office of profit or trust, civil or military, in this State, who, as a member of the Legislature, voted for the call of the Convention that passed the Ordinance of Secession, or who, as a delegate to any Convention, voted for or signed any ordinance of secession, or who gave voluntary aid, countenance, counsel or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States, or who accepted or attempted to exercise the functions of any office, civil or military, under any authority or pretended government authority, power, or Constitution, within the United States, hostile or inimical thereto, except all persons who aided reconstruction by voting for this Convention, or who have continuously advocated the assembling of this Convention, and shall continuously and in good faith advocate the acts of the same; but the Legislature may remove such disability; Provided, That nothing in this section, except voting for or signing the Ordinance of Secession shall be so construed as to exclude from office the private soldier of the late so-called Confederate States army.
Sec. 6. In time of war, insurrection or rebellion, the right to vote at such place, and in such manner as shall be prescribed by law, shall be enjoyed by all persons otherwise entitled thereto, who may be in the actual military or naval service of the United States or this State; Provided, Said votes be made to apply in the county or precinct wherein they reside.
School Fund, Education and Science
Section 1. As the stability of a Republican form of government depends mainly upon the intelligence and virtue of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement, by establishing a uniform system of free public schools, by taxation or otherwise, for all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, and shall, as soon as practicable, establish schools of higher grade.
Sec. 2. There shall be a Superintendent of Public Education elected at the same time and in the same manner as the Governor, who shall have the qualification of the Secretary of State, and hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified, whose duties shall be the general supervision of the common schools and the educational interests of the State, and who shall perform such other duties pertaining to his office, and receive such compensation as shall be prescribed by law; he shall report to the Legislature, for its adoption, within twenty days after the opening of its first session under this Constitution, a uniform system of free public schools.
Sec. 3. There shall be a Board of Education, consisting of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Superintendent of Public Education, for the management and investment of the school funds, under the general direction of the Legislature, and to perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law. The Superintendent and one other of said board shall constitute a quorum.
Sec. 4. There shall be a Superintendent of Public Education in each county, who shall be appointed by the Board of Education, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, whose term of office shall be two years, and whose compensation and duties shall be prescribed by law; Provided, That the Legislature shall have power to make said office of County School Superintendent of the several counties elective, as other county officers are.
Sec. 5. A public school or schools shall be maintained in each school district at least four months in each year. Any school district neglecting to maintain such school or schools shall be deprived for that year of its proportion of the income of the free school fund and of all funds arising from taxes for the support of schools.
Sec. 6. There shall be established a common school fund, which shall consist of the proceeds of the lands now belonging to the State, heretofore granted by the United States, and of the lands known as “swamp lands,” except the swamp lands lying and situated on Pearl river, in the counties of Hancock, Marion, Lawrence, Simpson, and Copiah, and of all lands now or hereafter vested in the State by escheat, or purchase, or forfeiture for taxes, and the clear proceeds of all fines collected in the several counties for any breach of the penal laws, and all moneys received for licenses granted under the general laws of the State, for the sale of intoxicating liquor, or keeping of dram shops; all moneys paid as an equivalent for persons exempt from military duty, and the funds arising from the consolidation of the Congressional township funds, and the lands belonging thereto, together with all moneys donated to the State for school purposes, which funds shall be securely invested in United States bonds, and remain a perpetual fund, which may be increased, but not diminished, the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated for the support of free schools.
Sec. 7. The Legislature may levy a poll tax not to exceed two dollars a head, in aid of the school fund, and for no other purpose.
Sec. 8. The Legislature shall, as soon as practicable, provide for the establishment of an Agricultural College or Colleges, and shall appropriate the two hundred and ten thousand acres of land donated to the State for the support of such a college by the act of Congress passed July 2, ad 1865, or the money or scrip, as the case may be, arising from the sale of said lands or any lands which may hereafter be granted, or appropriated for such purpose.
Sec. 9. No religious sect or sects shall ever control any part of the school or university funds of this State.
Sec. 10. The Legislature shall, from time to time, as may be necessary, provide for the levy and collection of such other taxes as may be required to properly support the system of free schools herein adopted. And all school funds shall be divided pro rata among the children of school age.
Only a few years after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, the nature of the protections it afforded and how they might restrict states’ rights became the subject of intense debate. Critical to this debate was the decision in the Slaughter-House Cases, actually a consolidation of several cases. These cases concerned a Louisiana law that enabled New Orleans to set up a monopoly centralizing and controlling the local slaughterhouse business. Butchers and others involved in the production of meat sued to overturn the law on the grounds that it infringed their Fourteenth Amendment right to pursue their legitimate occupations. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment extended no such general right. Instead, according to the Court, the Fourteenth Amendment merely protected the specific privileges and immunities of federal citizenship and would not interfere with legitimate exercise of each state’s police powers. Because Louisiana passed the law with the stated aim of protecting the public health, it was seen to pass constitutional muster. This was only the beginning of a still-ongoing debate over the intent and effect of the Fourteenth Amendment.
April 14, 1873
The Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleansv.The Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company.
Paul Esteben, L. Ruch, J. P. Rouede, W. Maylie, S. Firmberg, B. Beaubay, William Fagan, J. D. Broderick, N. Seibel, M. Lannes, J. Gitzinger, J. P. Aycock, D. Verges, The Live-Stock Dealers’ and Butchers’ Association of New Orleans, and Charles Cavarocv.The State of Louisiana,ex rel.S. Belden, Attorney-General.
The Butchers’ Benevolent Association of New Orleansv.The Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company.
Mr. Justice MILLER, now, April 14th, 1873, delivered the opinion of the court.
These cases are brought here by writs of error to the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana. They arise out of the efforts of the butchers of New Orleans to resist the Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company in the exercise of certain powers conferred by the charter which created it, and which was granted by the legislature of that State.
The cases named on a preceding page, with others which have been brought here and dismissed by agreement, were all decided by the Supreme Court of Louisiana in favor of the Slaughter-House Company, as we shall hereafter call it for the sake of brevity, and these writs are brought to reverse those decisions. . . .
The records show that the plaintiffs in error relied upon, and asserted throughout the entire course of the litigation in the State courts, that the grant of privileges in the charter of defendant, which they were contesting, was a violation of the most important provisions of the thirteenth and fourteenth articles of amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The jurisdiction and the duty of this court to review the judgment of the State court on those questions is clear and is imperative.
The statute thus assailed as unconstitutional was passed March 8th, 1869, and is entitled “An act to protect the health of the city of New Orleans, to locate the stock-landings and slaughter-houses, and to incorporate the Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House Company.”
The first section forbids the landing or slaughtering of animals whose flesh is intended for food, within the city of New Orleans and other parishes and boundaries named and defined, or the keeping or establishing any slaughter-houses or abattoirs within those limits except by the corporation thereby created, which is also limited to certain places afterwards mentioned. Suitable penalties are enacted for violations of this prohibition.
The second section designates the corporators, gives the name to the corporation, and confers on it the usual corporate powers.
The third and fourth sections authorize the company to establish and erect within certain territorial limits, therein defined, one or more stock-yards, stock-landings, and slaughter-houses, and imposes upon it the duty of erecting, on or before the first day of June, 1869, one grand slaughter-house of sufficient capacity for slaughtering five hundred animals per day.
It declares that the company, after it shall have prepared all the necessary buildings, yards, and other conveniences for that purpose, shall have the sole and exclusive privilege of conducting and carrying on the live-stock landing and slaughter-house business within the limits and privilege granted by the act, and that all such animals shall be landed at the stock-landings and slaughtered at the slaughter-houses of the company, and nowhere else. Penalties are enacted for infractions of this provision, and prices fixed for the maximum charges of the company for each steamboat and for each animal landed.
Section five orders the closing up of all other stock-landings and slaughter-houses after the first day of June, in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard, and makes it the duty of the company to permit any person to slaughter animals in their slaughter-houses under a heavy penalty for each refusal. Another section fixes a limit to the charges to be made by the company for each animal so slaughtered in their building, and another provides for an inspection of all animals intended to be so slaughtered, by an officer appointed by the governor of the State for that purpose.
These are the principal features of the statute, and are all that have any bearing upon the questions to be decided by us.
This statute is denounced not only as creating a monopoly and conferring odious and exclusive privileges upon a small number of persons at the expense of the great body of the community of New Orleans, but it is asserted that it deprives a large and meritorious class of citizens—the whole of the butchers of the city—of the right to exercise their trade, the business to which they have been trained and on which they depend for the support of themselves and their families; and that the unrestricted exercise of the business of butchering is necessary to the daily subsistence of the population of the city.
But a critical examination of the act hardly justifies these assertions.
It is true that it grants, for a period of twenty-five years, exclusive privileges. And whether those privileges are at the expense of the community in the sense of a curtailment of any of their fundamental rights, or even in the sense of doing them an injury, is a question open to considerations to be hereafter stated. But it is not true that it deprives the butchers of the right to exercise their trade, or imposes upon them any restriction incompatible with its successful pursuit, or furnishing the people of the city with the necessary daily supply of animal food.
The act divides itself into two main grants of privilege,—the one in reference to stock-landings and stock-yards, and the other to slaughter-houses. That the landing of live-stock in large droves, from steamboats on the bank of the river, and from railroad trains, should, for the safety and comfort of the people and the care of the animals, be limited to proper places, and those not numerous, it needs no argument to prove. Nor can it be injurious to the general community that while the duty of making ample preparation for this is imposed upon a few men, or a corporation, they should, to enable them to do it successfully, have the exclusive right of providing such landing-places, and receiving a fair compensation for the service.
It is, however, the slaughter-house privilege, which is mainly relied on to justify the charges of gross injustice to the public, and invasion of private right.
It is not, and cannot be successfully controverted, that it is both the right and the duty of the legislative body—the supreme power of the State or municipality—to prescribe and determine the localities where the business of slaughtering for a great city may be conducted. To do this effectively it is indispensable that all persons who slaughter animals for food shall do it in those places and nowhere else.
The statute under consideration defines these localities and forbids slaughtering in any other. It does not, as has been asserted, prevent the butcher from doing his own slaughtering. On the contrary, the Slaughter-House Company is required, under a heavy penalty, to permit any person who wishes to do so, to slaughter in their houses; and they are bound to make ample provision for the convenience of all the slaughtering for the entire city. The butcher then is still permitted to slaughter, to prepare, and to sell his own meats; but he is required to slaughter at a specified place and to pay a reasonable compensation for the use of the accommodations furnished him at that place.
The wisdom of the monopoly granted by the legislature may be open to question, but it is difficult to see a justification for the assertion that the butchers are deprived of the right to labor in their occupation, or the people of their daily service in preparing food, or how this statute, with the duties and guards imposed upon the company, can be said to destroy the business of the butcher, or seriously interfere with its pursuit.
The power here exercised by the legislature of Louisiana is, in its essential nature, one which has been, up to the present period in the constitutional history of this country, always conceded to belong to the States, however it may now be questioned in some of its details.
“Unwholesome trades, slaughter-houses, operations offensive to the senses, the deposit of powder, the application of steam power to propel cars, the building with combustible materials, and the burial of the dead, may all,” says Chancellor Kent,* “be interdicted by law, in the midst of dense masses of population, on the general and rational principle, that every person ought so to use his property as not to injure his neighbors; and that private interests must be made subservient to the general interests of the community.” This is called the police power; and it is declared by Chief Justice Shaw† that it is much easier to perceive and realize the existence and sources of it than to mark its boundaries, or prescribe limits to its exercise.
This power is, and must be from its very nature, incapable of any very exact definition or limitation. Upon it depends the security of social order, the life and health of the citizen, the comfort of an existence in a thickly populated community, the enjoyment of private and social life, and the beneficial use of property. “It extends,” says another eminent judge,‡ “to the protection of the lives, limbs, health, comfort, and quiet of all persons, and the protection of all property within the State; . . . and persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State. Of the perfect right of the legislature to do this no question ever was, or, upon acknowledged general principles, ever can be made, so far as natural persons are concerned.”
The regulation of the place and manner of conducting the slaughtering of animals, and the business of butchering within a city, and the inspection of the animals to be killed for meat, and of the meat afterwards, are among the most necessary and frequent exercises of this power. It is not, therefore, needed that we should seek for a comprehensive definition, but rather look for the proper source of its exercise.
In Gibbons v. Ogden,* Chief Justice Marshall, speaking of inspection laws passed by the States, says: “They form a portion of that immense mass of legislation which controls everything within the territory of a State not surrendered to the General Government—all which can be most advantageously administered by the States themselves. Inspection laws, quarantine laws, health laws of every description, as well as laws for regulating the internal commerce of a State, and those which respect turnpike roads, ferries, &c., are component parts. No direct general power over these objects is granted to Congress; and consequently they remain subject to State legislation.”
The exclusive authority of State legislation over this subject is strikingly illustrated in the case of the City of New York v. Miln.† In that case the defendant was prosecuted for failing to comply with a statute of New York which required of every master of a vessel arriving from a foreign port, in that of New York City, to report the names of all his passengers, with certain particulars of their age, occupation, last place of settlement, and place of their birth. It was argued that this act was an invasion of the exclusive right of Congress to regulate commerce. And it cannot be denied that such a statute operated at least indirectly upon the commercial intercourse between the citizens of the United States and of foreign countries. But notwithstanding this it was held to be an exercise of the police power properly within the control of the State, and unaffected by the clause of the Constitution which conferred on Congress the right to regulate commerce.
To the same purpose are the recent cases of The License Tax,‡ and United States v. De Witt.§ In the latter case an act of Congress which undertook as a part of the internal revenue laws to make it a misdemeanor to mix for sale naphtha and illuminating oils, or to sell oil of petroleum inflammable at less than a prescribed temperature, was held to be void, because as a police regulation the power to make such a law belonged to the States, and did not belong to Congress.
It cannot be denied that the statute under consideration is aptly framed to remove from the more densely populated part of the city, the noxious slaughter-houses, and large and offensive collections of animals necessarily incident to the slaughtering business of a large city, and to locate them where the convenience, health, and comfort of the people require they shall be located. And it must be conceded that the means adopted by the act for this purpose are appropriate, are stringent, and effectual. But it is said that in creating a corporation for this purpose, and conferring upon it exclusive privileges—privileges which it is said constitute a monopoly—the legislature has exceeded its power. If this statute had imposed on the city of New Orleans precisely the same duties, accompanied by the same privileges, which it has on the corporation which it created, it is believed that no question would have been raised as to its constitutionality. In that case the effect on the butchers in pursuit of their occupation and on the public would have been the same as it is now. Why cannot the legislature confer the same powers on another corporation, created for a lawful and useful public object, that it can on the municipal corporation already existing? That wherever a legislature has the right to accomplish a certain result, and that result is best attained by means of a corporation, it has the right to create such a corporation, and to endow it with the powers necessary to effect the desired and lawful purpose, seems hardly to admit of debate. The proposition is ably discussed and affirmed in the case of McCulloch v. The State of Maryland,* in relation to the power of Congress to organize the Bank of the United States to aid in the fiscal operations of the government.
It can readily be seen that the interested vigilance of the corporation created by the Louisiana legislature will be more efficient in enforcing the limitation prescribed for the stock-landing and slaughtering business for the good of the city than the ordinary efforts of the officers of the law.
Unless, therefore, it can be maintained that the exclusive privilege granted by this charter to the corporation, is beyond the power of the legislature of Louisiana, there can be no just exception to the validity of the statute. And in this respect we are not able to see that these privileges are especially odious or objectionable. The duty imposed as a consideration for the privilege is well defined, and its enforcement well guarded. The prices or charges to be made by the company are limited by the statute, and we are not advised that they are on the whole exorbitant or unjust.
The proposition is, therefore, reduced to these terms: Can any exclusive privileges be granted to any of its citizens, or to a corporation, by the legislature of a State?
The eminent and learned counsel who has twice argued the negative of this question, has displayed a research into the history of monopolies in England, and the European continent, only equalled by the eloquence with which they are denounced.
But it is to be observed, that all such references are to monopolies established by the monarch in derogation of the rights of his subjects, or arise out of transactions in which the people were unrepresented, and their interests uncared for. The great Case of Monopolies, reported by Coke, and so fully stated in the brief, was undoubtedly a contest of the commons against the monarch. The decision is based upon the ground that it was against common law, and the argument was aimed at the unlawful assumption of power by the crown; for whoever doubted the authority of Parliament to change or modify the common law? The discussion in the House of Commons cited from Macaulay clearly establishes that the contest was between the crown, and the people represented in Parliament.
But we think it may be safely affirmed, that the Parliament of Great Britain, representing the people in their legislative functions, and the legislative bodies of this country, have from time immemorial to the present day, continued to grant to persons and corporations exclusive privileges—privileges denied to other citizens—privileges which come within any just definition of the word monopoly, as much as those now under consideration; and that the power to do this has never been questioned or denied. Nor can it be truthfully denied, that some of the most useful and beneficial enterprises set on foot for the general good, have been made successful by means of these exclusive rights, and could only have been conducted to success in that way.
It may, therefore, be considered as established, that the authority of the legislature of Louisiana to pass the present statute is ample, unless some restraint in the exercise of that power be found in the constitution of that State or in the amendments to the Constitution of the United States, adopted since the date of the decisions we have already cited.
If any such restraint is supposed to exist in the constitution of the State, the Supreme Court of Louisiana having necessarily passed on that question, it would not be open to review in this court.
The plaintiffs in error accepting this issue, allege that the statute is a violation of the Constitution of the United States in these several particulars:
That it creates an involuntary servitude forbidden by the thirteenth article of amendment;
That it abridges the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States;
That it denies to the plaintiffs the equal protection of the laws; and,
That it deprives them of their property without due process of law; contrary to the provisions of the first section of the fourteenth article of amendment.
This court is thus called upon for the first time to give construction to these articles.
We do not conceal from ourselves the great responsibility which this duty devolves upon us. No questions so far-reaching and pervading in their consequences, so profoundly interesting to the people of this country, and so important in their bearing upon the relations of the United States, and of the several States to each other and to the citizens of the States and of the United States, have been before this court during the official life of any of its present members. We have given every opportunity for a full hearing at the bar; we have discussed it freely and compared views among ourselves; we have taken ample time for careful deliberation, and we now propose to announce the judgments which we have formed in the construction of those articles, so far as we have found them necessary to the decision of the cases before us, and beyond that we have neither the inclination nor the right to go.
Twelve articles of amendment were added to the Federal Constitution soon after the original organization of the government under it in 1789. Of these all but the last were adopted so soon afterwards as to justify the statement that they were practically contemporaneous with the adoption of the original; and the twelfth, adopted in eighteen hundred and three, was so nearly so as to have become, like all the others, historical and of another age. But within the last eight years three other articles of amendment of vast importance have been added by the voice of the people to that now venerable instrument.
The most cursory glance at these articles discloses a unity of purpose, when taken in connection with the history of the times, which cannot fail to have an important bearing on any question of doubt concerning their true meaning. Nor can such doubts, when any reasonably exist, be safely and rationally solved without a reference to that history; for in it is found the occasion and the necessity for recurring again to the great source of power in this country, the people of the States, for additional guarantees of human rights; additional powers to the Federal government; additional restraints upon those of the States. Fortunately that history is fresh within the memory of us all, and its leading features, as they bear upon the matter before us, free from doubt.
The institution of African slavery, as it existed in about half the States of the Union, and the contests pervading the public mind for many years, between those who desired its curtailment and ultimate extinction and those who desired additional safeguards for its security and perpetuation, culminated in the effort, on the part of most of the States in which slavery existed, to separate from the Federal government, and to resist its authority. This constituted the war of the rebellion, and whatever auxiliary causes may have contributed to bring about this war, undoubtedly the overshadowing and efficient cause was African slavery.
In that struggle slavery, as a legalized social relation, perished. It perished as a necessity of the bitterness and force of the conflict. When the armies of freedom found themselves upon the soil of slavery they could do nothing less than free the poor victims whose enforced servitude was the foundation of the quarrel. And when hard pressed in the contest these men (for they proved themselves men in that terrible crisis) offered their services and were accepted by thousands to aid in suppressing the unlawful rebellion, slavery was at an end wherever the Federal government succeeded in that purpose. The proclamation of President Lincoln expressed an accomplished fact as to a large portion of the insurrectionary districts, when he declared slavery abolished in them all. But the war being over, those who had succeeded in re-establishing the authority of the Federal government were not content to permit this great act of emancipation to rest on the actual results of the contest or the proclamation of the Executive, both of which might have been questioned in after times, and they determined to place this main and most valuable result in the Constitution of the restored Union as one of its fundamental articles. Hence the thirteenth article of amendment of that instrument. Its two short sections seem hardly to admit of construction, so vigorous is their expression and so appropriate to the purpose we have indicated.
“1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
“2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
To withdraw the mind from the contemplation of this grand yet simple declaration of the personal freedom of all the human race within the jurisdiction of this government—a declaration designed to establish the freedom of four millions of slaves—and with a microscopic search endeavor to find in it a reference to servitudes, which may have been attached to property in certain localities, requires an effort, to say the least of it.
That a personal servitude was meant is proved by the use of the word “involuntary,” which can only apply to human beings. The exception of servitude as a punishment for crime gives an idea of the class of servitude that is meant. The word servitude is of larger meaning than slavery, as the latter is popularly understood in this country, and the obvious purpose was to forbid all shades and conditions of African slavery. It was very well understood that in the form of apprenticeship for long terms, as it had been practiced in the West India Islands, on the abolition of slavery by the English government, or by reducing the slaves to the condition of serfs attached to the plantation, the purpose of the article might have been evaded, if only the word slavery had been used. The case of the apprentice slave, held under a law of Maryland, liberated by Chief Justice Chase, on a writ of habeas corpus under this article, illustrates this course of observation.* And it is all that we deem necessary to say on the application of that article to the statute of Louisiana, now under consideration.
The process of restoring to their proper relations with the Federal government and with the other States those which had sided with the rebellion, undertaken under the proclamation of President Johnson in 1865, and before the assembling of Congress, developed the fact that, notwithstanding the formal recognition by those States of the abolition of slavery, the condition of the slave race would, without further protection of the Federal government, be almost as bad as it was before. Among the first acts of legislation adopted by several of the States in the legislative bodies which claimed to be in their normal relations with the Federal government, were laws which imposed upon the colored race onerous disabilities and burdens, and curtailed their rights in the pursuit of life, liberty, and property to such an extent that their freedom was of little value, while they had lost the protection which they had received from their former owners from motives both of interest and humanity.
They were in some States forbidden to appear in the towns in any other character than menial servants. They were required to reside on and cultivate the soil without the right to purchase or own it. They were excluded from many occupations of gain, and were not permitted to give testimony in the courts in any case where a white man was a party. It was said that their lives were at the mercy of bad men, either because the laws for their protection were insufficient or were not enforced.
These circumstances, whatever of falsehood or misconception may have been mingled with their presentation, forced upon the statesmen who had conducted the Federal government in safety through the crisis of the rebellion, and who supposed that by the thirteenth article of amendment they had secured the result of their labors, the conviction that something more was necessary in the way of constitutional protection to the unfortunate race who had suffered so much. They accordingly passed through Congress the proposition for the fourteenth amendment, and they declined to treat as restored to their full participation in the government of the Union the States which had been in insurrection, until they ratified that article by a formal vote of their legislative bodies.
Before we proceed to examine more critically the provisions of this amendment, on which the plaintiffs in error rely, let us complete and dismiss the history of the recent amendments, as that history relates to the general purpose which pervades them all. A few years’ experience satisfied the thoughtful men who had been the authors of the other two amendments that, notwithstanding the restraints of those articles on the States, and the laws passed under the additional powers granted to Congress, these were inadequate for the protection of life, liberty, and property, without which freedom to the slave was no boon. They were in all those States denied the right of suffrage. The laws were administered by the white man alone. It was urged that a race of men distinctively marked as was the negro, living in the midst of another and dominant race, could never be fully secured in their person and their property without the right of suffrage.
Hence the fifteenth amendment, which declares that “the right of a citizen of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The negro having, by the fourteenth amendment, been declared to be a citizen of the United States, is thus made a voter in every State of the Union.
We repeat, then, in the light of this recapitulation of events, almost too recent to be called history, but which are familiar to us all; and on the most casual examination of the language of these amendments, no one can fail to be impressed with the one pervading purpose found in them all, lying at the foundation of each, and without which none of them would have been even suggested; we mean the freedom of the slave race, the security and firm establishment of that freedom, and the protection of the newly-made freeman and citizen from the oppressions of those who had formerly exercised unlimited dominion over him. It is true that only the fifteenth amendment, in terms, mentions the negro by speaking of his color and his slavery. But it is just as true that each of the other articles was addressed to the grievances of that race, and designed to remedy them as the fifteenth.
We do not say that no one else but the negro can share in this protection. Both the language and spirit of these articles are to have their fair and just weight in any question of construction. Undoubtedly while negro slavery alone was in the mind of the Congress which proposed the thirteenth article, it forbids any other kind of slavery, now or hereafter. If Mexican peonage or the Chinese coolie labor system shall develop slavery of the Mexican or Chinese race within our territory, this amendment may safely be trusted to make it void. And so if other rights are assailed by the States which properly and necessarily fall within the protection of these articles, that protection will apply; though the party interested may not be of African descent. But what we do say, and what we wish to be understood is, that in any fair and just construction of any section or phrase of these amendments, it is necessary to look to the purpose which we have said was the pervading spirit of them all, the evil which they were designed to remedy, and the process of continued addition to the Constitution, until that purpose was supposed to be accomplished, as far as constitutional law can accomplish it.
The first section of the fourteenth article, to which our attention is more specially invited, opens with a definition of citizenship—not only citizenship of the United States, but citizenship of the States. No such definition was previously found in the Constitution, nor had any attempt been made to define it by act of Congress. It had been the occasion of much discussion in the courts, by the executive departments, and in the public journals. It had been said by eminent judges that no man was a citizen of the United States, except as he was a citizen of one of the States composing the Union. Those, therefore, who had been born and resided always in the District of Columbia or in the Territories, though within the United States, were not citizens. Whether this proposition was sound or not had never been judicially decided. But it had been held by this court, in the celebrated Dred Scott case, only a few years before the outbreak of the civil war, that a man of African descent, whether a slave or not, was not and could not be a citizen of a State or of the United States. This decision, while it met the condemnation of some of the ablest statesmen and constitutional lawyers of the country, had never been overruled; and if it was to be accepted as a constitutional limitation of the right of citizenship, then all the negro race who had recently been made freemen, were still, not only not citizens, but were incapable of becoming so by anything short of an amendment to the Constitution.
To remove this difficulty primarily, and to establish a clear and comprehensive definition of citizenship which should declare what should constitute citizenship of the United States, and also citizenship of a State, the first clause of the first section was framed.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The first observation we have to make on this clause is, that it puts at rest both the questions which we stated to have been the subject of differences of opinion. It declares that persons may be citizens of the United States without regard to their citizenship of a particular State, and it overturns the Dred Scott decision by making all persons born within the United States and subject to its jurisdiction citizens of the United States. That its main purpose was to establish the citizenship of the negro can admit of no doubt. The phrase, “subject to its jurisdiction” was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.
The next observation is more important in view of the arguments of counsel in the present case. It is, that the distinction between citizenship of the United States and citizenship of a State is clearly recognized and established. Not only may a man be a citizen of the United States without being a citizen of a State, but an important element is necessary to convert the former into the latter. He must reside within the State to make him a citizen of it, but it is only necessary that he should be born or naturalized in the United States to be a citizen of the Union.
It is quite clear, then, that there is a citizenship of the United States, and a citizenship of a State, which are distinct from each other, and which depend upon different characteristics or circumstances in the individual.
We think this distinction and its explicit recognition in this amendment of great weight in this argument, because the next paragraph of this same section, which is the one mainly relied on by the plaintiffs in error, speaks only of privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, and does not speak of those of citizens of the several States. The argument, however, in favor of the plaintiffs rests wholly on the assumption that the citizenship is the same, and the privileges and immunities guaranteed by the clause are the same.
The language is, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” It is a little remarkable, if this clause was intended as a protection to the citizen of a State against the legislative power of his own State, that the word citizen of the State should be left out when it is so carefully used, and used in contradistinction to citizens of the United States, in the very sentence which precedes it. It is too clear for argument that the change in phraseology was adopted understandingly and with a purpose.
Of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the United States, and of the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the State, and what they respectively are, we will presently consider; but we wish to state here that it is only the former which are placed by this clause under the protection of the Federal Constitution, and that the latter, whatever they may be, are not intended to have any additional protection by this paragraph of the amendment.
If, then, there is a difference between the privileges and immunities belonging to a citizen of the United States as such, and those belonging to the citizen of the State as such the latter must rest for their security and protection where they have heretofore rested; for they are not embraced by this paragraph of the amendment.
The first occurrence of the words “privileges and immunities” in our constitutional history, is to be found in the fourth of the articles of the old Confederation.
It declares “that the better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively.”
In the Constitution of the United States, which superseded the Articles of Confederation, the corresponding provision is found in section two of the fourth article, in the following words: “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States.”
There can be but little question that the purpose of both these provisions is the same, and that the privileges and immunities intended are the same in each. In the article of the Confederation we have some of these specifically mentioned, and enough perhaps to give some general idea of the class of civil rights meant by the phrase.
Fortunately we are not without judicial construction of this clause of the Constitution. The first and the leading case on the subject is that of Corfield v. Coryell, decided by Mr. Justice Washington in the Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania in 1823.*
“The inquiry,” he says, “is, what are the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States? We feel no hesitation in confining these expressions to those privileges and immunities which are fundamental; which belong of right to the citizens of all free governments, and which have at all times been enjoyed by citizens of the several States which compose this Union, from the time of their becoming free, independent, and sovereign. What these fundamental principles are, it would be more tedious than difficult to enumerate. They may all, however, be comprehended under the following general heads: protection by the government, with the right to acquire and possess property of every kind, and to pursue and obtain happiness and safety, subject, nevertheless, to such restraints as the government may prescribe for the general good of the whole.”
This definition of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the States is adopted in the main by this court in the recent case of Ward v. The State of Maryland,† while it declines to undertake an authoritative definition beyond what was necessary to that decision. The description, when taken to include others not named, but which are of the same general character, embraces nearly every civil right for the establishment and protection of which organized government is instituted. They are, in the language of Judge Washington, those rights which are fundamental. Throughout his opinion, they are spoken of as rights belonging to the individual as a citizen of a State. They are so spoken of in the constitutional provision which he was construing. And they have always been held to be the class of rights which the State governments were created to establish and secure.
In the case of Paul v. Virginia,* the court, in expounding this clause of the Constitution, says that “the privileges and immunities secured to citizens of each State in the several States, by the provision in question, are those privileges and immunities which are common to the citizens in the latter States under their constitution and laws by virtue of their being citizens.”
The constitutional provision there alluded to did not create those rights, which it called privileges and immunities of citizens of the States. It threw around them in that clause no security for the citizen of the State in which they were claimed or exercised. Nor did it profess to control the power of the State governments over the rights of its own citizens.
Its sole purpose was to declare to the several States, that whatever those rights, as you grant or establish them to your own citizens, or as you limit or qualify, or impose restrictions on their exercise, the same, neither more nor less, shall be the measure of the rights of citizens of other States within your jurisdiction.
It would be the vainest show of learning to attempt to prove by citations of authority, that up to the adoption of the recent amendments, no claim or pretence was set up that those rights depended on the Federal government for their existence or protection, beyond the very few express limitations which the Federal Constitution imposed upon the States—such, for instance, as the prohibition against ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts. But with the exception of these and a few other restrictions, the entire domain of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the States, as above defined, lay within the constitutional and legislative power of the States, and without that of the Federal government. Was it the purpose of the fourteenth amendment, by the simple declaration that no State should make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, to transfer the security and protection of all the civil rights which we have mentioned, from the States to the Federal government? And where it is declared that Congress shall have the power to enforce that article, was it intended to bring within the power of Congress the entire domain of civil rights heretofore belonging exclusively to the States?
All this and more must follow, if the proposition of the plaintiffs in error be sound. For not only are these rights subject to the control of Congress whenever in its discretion any of them are supposed to be abridged by State legislation, but that body may also pass laws in advance, limiting and restricting the exercise of legislative power by the States, in their most ordinary and usual functions, as in its judgment it may think proper on all such subjects. And still further, such a construction followed by the reversal of the judgments of the Supreme Court of Louisiana in these cases, would constitute this court a perpetual censor upon all legislation of the States, on the civil rights of their own citizens, with authority to nullify such as it did not approve as consistent with those rights, as they existed at the time of the adoption of this amendment. The argument we admit is not always the most conclusive which is drawn from the consequences urged against the adoption of a particular construction of an instrument. But when, as in the case before us, these consequences are so serious, so far-reaching and pervading, so great a departure from the structure and spirit of our institutions; when the effect is to fetter and degrade the State governments by subjecting them to the control of Congress, in the exercise of powers heretofore universally conceded to them of the most ordinary and fundamental character; when in fact it radically changes the whole theory of the relations of the State and Federal governments to each other and of both these governments to the people; the argument has a force that is irresistible, in the absence of language which expresses such a purpose too clearly to admit of doubt.
We are convinced that no such results were intended by the Congress which proposed these amendments, nor by the legislatures of the States which ratified them.
Having shown that the privileges and immunities relied on in the argument are those which belong to citizens of the States as such, and that they are left to the State governments for security and protection, and not by this article placed under the special care of the Federal government, we may hold ourselves excused from defining the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States which no State can abridge, until some case involving those privileges may make it necessary to do so.
But lest it should be said that no such privileges and immunities are to be found if those we have been considering are excluded, we venture to suggest some which owe their existence to the Federal government, its National character, its Constitution, or its laws.
One of these is well described in the case of Crandall v. Nevada.* It is said to be the right of the citizen of this great country, protected by implied guarantees of its Constitution, “to come to the seat of government to assert any claim he may have upon that government, to transact any business he may have with it, to seek its protection, to share its offices, to engage in administering its functions. He has the right of free access to its seaports, through which all operations of foreign commerce are conducted, to the subtreasuries, land offices, and courts of justice in the several States.” And quoting from the language of Chief Justice Taney in another case, it is said “that for all the great purposes for which the Federal government was established, we are one people, with one common country, we are all citizens of the United States”; and it is, as such citizens, that their rights are supported in this court in Crandall v. Nevada.
Another privilege of a citizen of the United States is to demand the care and protection of the Federal government over his life, liberty, and property when on the high seas or within the jurisdiction of a foreign government. Of this there can be no doubt, nor that the right depends upon his character as a citizen of the United States. The right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, are rights of the citizen guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. The right to use the navigable waters of the United States, however they may penetrate the territory of the several States, all rights secured to our citizens by treaties with foreign nations, are dependent upon citizenship of the United States, and not citizenship of a State. One of these privileges is conferred by the very article under consideration. It is that a citizen of the United States can, of his own volition, become a citizen of any State of the Union by a bona fide residence therein, with the same rights as other citizens of that State. To these may be added the rights secured by the thirteenth and fifteenth articles of amendment, and by the other clause of the fourteenth, next to be considered.
But it is useless to pursue this branch of the inquiry, since we are of opinion that the rights claimed by these plaintiffs in error, if they have any existence, are not privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States within the meaning of the clause of the fourteenth amendment under consideration.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws.”
The argument has not been much pressed in these cases that the defendant’s charter deprives the plaintiffs of their property without due process of law, or that it denies to them the equal protection of the law. The first of these paragraphs has been in the Constitution since the adoption of the fifth amendment, as a restraint upon the Federal power. It is also to be found in some form of expression in the constitutions of nearly all the States, as a restraint upon the power of the States. This law then, has practically been the same as it now is during the existence of the government, except so far as the present amendment may place the restraining power over the States in this matter in the hands of the Federal government.
We are not without judicial interpretation, therefore, both State and National, of the meaning of this clause. And it is sufficient to say that under no construction of that provision that we have ever seen, or any that we deem admissible, can the restraint imposed by the State of Louisiana upon the exercise of their trade by the butchers of New Orleans be held to be a deprivation of property within the meaning of that provision.
“Nor shall any State deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In the light of the history of these amendments, and the pervading purpose of them, which we have already discussed, it is not difficult to give a meaning to this clause. The existence of laws in the States where the newly emancipated negroes resided, which discriminated with gross injustice and hardship against them as a class, was the evil to be remedied by this clause, and by it such laws are forbidden.
If, however, the States did not conform their laws to its requirements, then by the fifth section of the article of amendment Congress was authorized to enforce it by suitable legislation. We doubt very much whether any action of a State not directed by way of discrimination against the negroes as a class, or on account of their race, will ever be held to come within the purview of this provision. It is so clearly a provision for that race and that emergency, that a strong case would be necessary for its application to any other. But as it is a State that is to be dealt with, and not alone the validity of its laws, we may safely leave that matter until Congress shall have exercised its power, or some case of State oppression, by denial of equal justice in its courts, shall have claimed a decision at our hands. We find no such case in the one before us, and do not deem it necessary to go over the argument again, as it may have relation to this particular clause of the amendment.
In the early history of the organization of the government, its statesmen seem to have divided on the line which should separate the powers of the National government from those of the State governments, and though this line has never been very well defined in public opinion, such a division has continued from that day to this.
The adoption of the first eleven amendments to the Constitution so soon after the original instrument was accepted, shows a prevailing sense of danger at that time from the Federal power. And it cannot be denied that such a jealousy continued to exist with many patriotic men until the breaking out of the late civil war. It was then discovered that the true danger to the perpetuity of the Union was in the capacity of the State organizations to combine and concentrate all the powers of the State, and of contiguous States, for a determined resistance to the General Government.
Unquestionably this has given great force to the argument, and added largely to the number of those who believe in the necessity of a strong National government.
But, however pervading this sentiment, and however it may have contributed to the adoption of the amendments we have been considering, we do not see in those amendments any purpose to destroy the main features of the general system. Under the pressure of all the excited feeling growing out of the war, our statesmen have still believed that the existence of the States with powers for domestic and local government, including the regulation of civil rights—the rights of person and of property—was essential to the perfect working of our complex form of government, though they have thought proper to impose additional limitations on the States, and to confer additional power on that of the Nation.
But whatever fluctuations may be seen in the history of public opinion on this subject during the period of our national existence, we think it will be found that this court, so far as its functions required, has always held with a steady and an even hand the balance between State and Federal power, and we trust that such may continue to be the history of its relation to that subject so long as it shall have duties to perform which demand of it a construction of the Constitution, or of any of its parts.
The judgments of the Supreme Court of Louisiana in these cases are
Mr. Justice FIELD, dissenting:
I am unable to agree with the majority of the court in these cases, and will proceed to state the reasons of my dissent from their judgment. . . .
The substance of the averments of the plaintiffs in error is this: That prior to the passage of the act in question they were engaged in the lawful and necessary business of procuring and bringing to the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard, animals suitable for human food, and in preparing such food for market; that in the prosecution of this business they had provided in these parishes suitable establishments for landing, sheltering, keeping, and slaughtering cattle and the sale of meat; that with their association about four hundred persons were connected, and that in the parishes named about a thousand persons were thus engaged in procuring, preparing, and selling animal food. And they complain that the business of landing, yarding, and keeping, within the parishes named, cattle intended for sale or slaughter, which was lawful for them to pursue before the first day of June, 1869, is made by that act unlawful for any one except the corporation named; and that the business of slaughtering cattle and preparing animal food for market, which it was lawful for them to pursue in these parishes before that day, is made by that act unlawful for them to pursue afterwards, except in the buildings of the company, and upon payment of certain prescribed fees, and a surrender of a valuable portion of each animal slaughtered. And they contend that the lawful business of landing, yarding, sheltering, and keeping cattle intended for sale or slaughter, which they in common with every individual in the community of the three parishes had a right to follow, cannot be thus taken from them and given over for a period of twenty-five years to the sole and exclusive enjoyment of a corporation of seventeen persons or of anybody else. And they also contend that the lawful and necessary business of slaughtering cattle and preparing animal food for market, which they and all other individuals had a right to follow, cannot be thus restricted within this territory of 1154 square miles to the buildings of this corporation, or be subjected to tribute for the emolument of that body.
No one will deny the abstract justice which lies in the position of the plaintiffs in error; and I shall endeavor to show that the position has some support in the fundamental law of the country.
It is contended in justification for the act in question that it was adopted in the interest of the city, to promote its cleanliness and protect its health, and was the legitimate exercise of what is termed the police power of the State. That power undoubtedly extends to all regulations affecting the health, good order, morals, peace, and safety of society, and is exercised on a great variety of subjects, and in almost numberless ways. All sorts of restrictions and burdens are imposed under it, and when these are not in conflict with any constitutional prohibitions, or fundamental principles, they cannot be successfully assailed in a judicial tribunal. With this power of the State and its legitimate exercise I shall not differ from the majority of the court. But under the pretence of prescribing a police regulation the State cannot be permitted to encroach upon any of the just rights of the citizen, which the Constitution intended to secure against abridgment.
In the law in question there are only two provisions which can properly be called police regulations—the one which requres the landing and slaughtering of animals below the city of New Orleans, and the other which requires the inspection of the animals before they are slaughtered. When these requirements are complied with, the sanitary purposes of the act are accomplished. In all other particulars the act is a mere grant to a corporation created by it of special and exclusive privileges by which the health of the city is in no way promoted. It is plain that if the corporation can, without endangering the health of the public, carry on the business of landing, keeping, and slaughtering cattle within a district below the city embracing an area of over a thousand square miles, it would not endanger the public health if other persons were also permitted to carry on the same business within the same district under similar conditions as to the inspection of the animals. The health of the city might require the removal from its limits and suburbs of all buildings for keeping and slaughtering cattle, but no such object could possibly justify legislation removing such buildings from a large part of the State for the benefit of a single corporation. The pretence of sanitary regulations for the grant of the exclusive privileges is a shallow one, which merits only this passing notice.
It is also sought to justify the act in question on the same principle that exclusive grants for ferries, bridges, and turnpikes are sanctioned. But it can find no support there. Those grants are of franchises of a public character appertaining to the government. Their use usually requires the exercise of the sovereign right of eminent domain. It is for the government to determine when one of them shall be granted, and the conditions upon which it shall be enjoyed. It is the duty of the government to provide suitable roads, bridges, and ferries for the convenience of the public, and if it chooses to devolve this duty to any extent, or in any locality, upon particular individuals or corporations, it may of course stipulate for such exclusive privileges connected with the franchise as it may deem proper, without encroaching upon the freedom or the just rights of others. The grant, with exclusive privileges, of a right thus appertaining to the government, is a very different thing from a grant, with exclusive privileges, of a right to pursue one of the ordinary trades or callings of life, which is a right appertaining solely to the individual.
Nor is there any analogy between this act of Louisiana and the legislation which confers upon the inventor of a new and useful improvement an exclusive right to make and sell to others his invention. The government in this way only secures to the inventor the temporary enjoyment of that which, without him, would not have existed. It thus only recognizes in the inventor a temporary property in the product of his own brain.
The act of Louisiana presents the naked case, unaccompanied by any public considerations, where a right to pursue a lawful and necessary calling, previously enjoyed by every citizen, and in connection with which a thousand persons were daily employed, is taken away and vested exclusively for twenty-five years, for an extensive district and a large population, in a single corporation, or its exercise is for that period restricted to the establishements of the corporation, and there allowed only upon onerous conditions.
If exclusive privileges of this character can be granted to a corporation of seventeen persons, they may, in the discretion of the legislature, be equally granted to a single individual. If they may be granted for twenty-five years they may be equally granted for a century, and in perpetuity. If they may be granted for the landing and keeping of animals intended for sale or slaughter they may be equally granted for the landing and storing of grain and other products of the earth, or for any article of commerce. If they may be granted for structures in which animal food is prepared for market they may be equally granted for structures in which farinaceous or vegetable food is prepared. They may be granted for any of the pursuits of human industry, even in its most simple and common forms. Indeed, upon the theory on which the exclusive privileges granted by the act in question are sustained, there is no monopoly, in the most odious form, which may not be upheld.
The question presented is, therefore, one of the gravest importance, not merely to the parties here, but to the whole country. It is nothing less than the question whether the recent amendments to the Federal Constitution protect the citizens of the United States against the deprivation of their common rights by State legislation. In my judgment the fourteenth amendment does afford such protection, and was so intended by the Congress which framed and the States which adopted it.
The counsel for the plaintiffs in error have contended, with great force, that the act in question is also inhibited by the thirteenth amendment.
That amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, but I have not supposed it was susceptible of a construction which would cover the enactment in question. I have been so accustomed to regard it as intended to meet that form of slavery which had previously prevailed in this country, and to which the recent civil war owed its existence, that I was not prepared, nor am I yet, to give to it the extent and force ascribed by counsel. Still it is evident that the language of the amendment is not used in a restrictive sense. It is not confined to African slavery alone. It is general and universal in its application. Slavery of white men as well as of black men is prohibited, and not merely slavery in the strict sense of the term, but involuntary servitude in every form.
The words “involuntary servitude” have not been the subject of any judicial or legislative exposition, that I am aware of, in this country, except that which is found in the Civil Rights Act, which will be hereafter noticed. It is, however, clear that they include something more than slavery in the strict sense of the term; they include also serfage, vassalage, villenage, peonage, and all other forms of compulsory service for the mere benefit or pleasure of others. Nor is this the full import of the terms. The abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude was intended to make every one born in this country a freeman, and as such to give to him the right to pursue the ordinary avocations of life without other restraint than such as affects all others, and to enjoy equally with them the fruits of his labor. A prohibition to him to pursue certain callings, open to others of the same age, condition, and sex, or to reside in places where others are permitted to live, would so far deprive him of the rights of a freeman, and would place him, as respects others, in a condition of servitude. A person allowed to pursue only one trade or calling, and only in one locality of the country, would not be, in the strict sense of the term, in a condition of slavery, but probably none would deny that he would be in a condition of servitude. He certainly would not possess the liberties nor enjoy the privileges of a freeman. The compulsion which would force him to labor even for his own benefit only in one direction, or in one place, would be almost as oppressive and nearly as great an invasion of his liberty as the compulsion which would force him to labor for the benefit or pleasure of another, and would equally constitute an element of servitude. The counsel of the plaintiffs in error therefore contend that “wherever a law of a State, or a law of the United States, makes a discrimination between classes of persons, which deprives the one class of their freedom or their property, or which makes a caste of them to subserve the power, pride, avarice, vanity, or vengeance of others,” there involuntary servitude exists within the meaning of the thirteenth amendment.
It is not necessary, in my judgment, for the disposition of the present case in favor of the plaintiffs in error, to accept as entirely correct this conclusion of counsel. It, however, finds support in the act of Congress known as the Civil Rights Act, which was framed and adopted upon a construction of the thirteenth amendment, giving to its language a similar breadth. That amendment was ratified on the eighteenth of December, 1865,* and in April of the following year the Civil Rights Act was passed.† Its first section declares that all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are “citizens of the United States,” and that “such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery, or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as enjoyed by white citizens.”
This legislation was supported upon the theory that citizens of the United States as such were entitled to the rights and privileges enumerated, and that to deny to any such citizen equality in these rights and privileges with others, was, to the extent of the denial, subjecting him to an involuntary servitude. Senator Trumbull, who drew the act and who was its earnest advocate in the Senate, stated, on opening the discussion upon it in that body, that the measure was intended to give effect to the declaration of the amendment, and to secure to all persons in the United States practical freedom. After referring to several statutes passed in some of the Southern States, discriminating between the freedmen and white citizens, and after citing the definition of civil liberty given by Blackstone, the Senator said: “I take it that any statute which is not equal to all, and which deprives any citizen of civil rights, which are secured to other citizens, is an unjust encroachment upon his liberty; and it is in fact a badge of servitude which by the Constitution is prohibited.”*
By the act of Louisiana, within the three parishes named, a territory exceeding one thousand one hundred square miles, and embracing over two hundred thousand people, every man who pursues the business of preparing animal food for market must take his animals to the buildings of the favored company, and must perform his work in them, and for the use of the buildings must pay a prescribed tribute to the company, and leave with it a valuable portion of each animal slaughtered. Every man in these parishes who has a horse or other animal for sale, must carry him to the yards and stables of this company, and for their use pay a like tribute. He is not allowed to do his work in his own buildings, or to take his animals to his own stables or keep them in his own yards, even though they should be erected in the same district as the buildings, stables, and yards of the company, and that district embraces over eleven hundred square miles. The prohibitions imposed by this act upon butchers and dealers in cattle in these parishes, and the special privileges conferred upon the favored corporation, are similar in principle and as odious in character as the restrictions imposed in the last century upon the peasantry in some parts of France, where, as says a French writer, the peasant was prohibited “to hunt on his own lands, to fish in his own waters, to grind at his own mill, to cook at his own oven, to dry his clothes on his own machines, to whet his instruments at his own grindstone, to make his own wine, his oil, and his cider at his own press, . . . or to sell his commodities at the public market.” The exclusive right to all these privileges was vested in the lords of the vicinage. “The history of the most execrable tyranny of ancient times,” says the same writer, “offers nothing like this. This category of oppressions cannot be applied to a free man, or to the peasant, except in violation of his rights.”
But if the exclusive privileges conferred upon the Louisiana corporation can be sustained, it is not perceived why exclusive privileges for the construction and keeping of ovens, machines, grindstones, wine-presses, and for all the numerous trades and pursuits for the prosecution of which buildings are required, may not be equally bestowed upon other corporations or private individuals, and for periods of indefinite duration.
It is not necessary, however, as I have said, to rest my objections to the act in question upon the terms and meaning of the thirteenth amendment. The provisions of the fourteenth amendment, which is properly a supplement to the thirteenth, cover, in my judgment, the case before us, and inhibit any legislation which confers special and exclusive privileges like these under consideration. The amendment was adopted to obviate objections which had been raised and pressed with great force to the validity of the Civil Rights Act, and to place the common rights of American citizens under the protection of the National government. It first declares that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It then declares that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The first clause of this amendment determines who are citizens of the United States, and how their citizenship is created. Before its enactment there was much diversity of opinion among jurists and statesmen whether there was any such citizenship independent of that of the State, and, if any existed, as to the manner in which it originated. With a great number the opinion prevailed that there was no such citizenship independent of the citizenship of the State. Such was the opinion of Mr. Calhoun and the class represented by him. In his celebrated speech in the Senate upon the Force Bill, in 1833, referring to the reliance expressed by a senator upon the fact that we are citizens of the United States, he said: “If by citizen of the United States he means a citizen at large, one whose citizenship extends to the entire geographical limits of the country without having a local citizenship in some State or Territory, a sort of citizen of the world, all I have to say is that such a citizen would be a perfect nondescript; that not a single individual of this description can be found in the entire mass of our population. Notwithstanding all the pomp and display of eloquence on the occasion, every citizen is a citizen of some State or Territory, and as such, under an express provision of the Constitution, is entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and it is in this and no other sense that we are citizens of the United States.”*
In the Dred Scott case this subject of citizenship of the United States was fully and elaborately discussed. The exposition in the opinion of Mr. Justice Curtis has been generally accepted by the profession of the country as the one containing the soundest views of constitutional law. And he held that, under the Constitution, citizenship of the United States in reference to natives was dependent upon citizenship in the several States, under their constitutions and laws.
The Chief Justice, in that case, and a majority of the court with him, held that the words “people of the United States” and “citizens” were synonymous terms; that the people of the respective States were the parties to the Constitution; that these people consisted of the free inhabitants of those States; that they had provided in their Constitution for the adoption of a uniform rule of naturalization; that they and their descendants and persons naturalized were the only persons who could be citizens of the United States, and that it was not in the power of any State to invest any other person with citizenship so that he could enjoy the privileges of a citizen under the Constitution, and that therefore the descendants of persons brought to this country and sold as slaves were not, and could not be citizens within the meaning of the Constitution.
The first clause of the fourteenth amendment changes this whole subject, and removes it from the region of discussion and doubt. It recognizes in express terms, if it does not create, citizens of the United States, and it makes their citizenship dependent upon the place of their birth, or the fact of their adoption, and not upon the constitution or laws of any State or the condition of their ancestry. A citizen of a State is now only a citizen of the United States residing in that State. The fundamental rights, privileges, and immunities which belong to him as a free man and a free citizen, now belong to him as a citizen of the United States, and are not dependent upon his citizenship of any State. The exercise of these rights and privileges, and the degree of enjoyment received from such exercise, are always more or less affected by the condition and the local institutions of the State, or city, or town where he resides. They are thus affected in a State by the wisdom of its laws, the ability of its officers, the efficiency of its magistrates, the education and morals of its people, and by many other considerations. This is a result which follows from the constitution of society, and can never be avoided, but in no other way can they be affected by the action of the State, or by the residence of the citizen therein. They do not derive their existence from its legislation, and cannot be destroyed by its power.
The amendment does not attempt to confer any new privileges or immunities upon citizens, or to enumerate or define those already existing. It assumes that there are such privileges and immunities which belong of right to citizens as such, and ordains that they shall not be abridged by State legislation. If this inhibition has no reference to privileges and immunities of this character, but only refers, as held by the majority of the court in their opinion, to such privileges and immunities as were before its adoption specially designated in the Constitution or necessarily implied as belonging to citizens of the United States, it was a vain and idle enactment, which accomplished nothing, and most unnecessarily excited Congress and the people on its passage. With privileges and immunities thus designated or implied no State could ever have interfered by its laws, and no new constitutional provision was required to inhibit such interference. The supremacy of the Constitution and the laws of the United States always controlled any State legislation of that character. But if the amendment refers to the natural and inalienable rights which belong to all citizens, the inhibition has a profound significance and consequence.
What, then, are the privileges and immunities which are secured against abridgment by State legislation?
In the first section of the Civil Rights Act Congress has given its interpretation to these terms, or at least has stated some of the rights which, in its judgment, these terms include; it has there declared that they include the right “to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property.” That act, it is true, was passed before the fourteenth amendment, but the amendment was adopted, as I have already said, to obviate objections to the act, or, speaking more accurately, I should say, to obviate objections to legislation of a similar character, extending the protection of the National government over the common rights of all citizens of the United States. Accordingly, after its ratification, Congress re-enacted the act under the belief that whatever doubts may have previously existed of its validity, they were removed by the amendment.*
The terms, privileges and immunities, are not new in the amendment; they were in the Constitution before the amendment was adopted. They are found in the second section of the fourth article, which declares that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States,” and they have been the subject of frequent consideration in judicial decisions. In Corfield v. Coryell,† Mr. Justice Washington said he had “no hesitation in confining these expressions to those privileges and immunities which were, in their nature, fundamental; which belong of right to citizens of all free governments, and which have at all times been enjoyed by the citizens of the several States which compose the Union, from the time of their becoming free, independent, and sovereign”; and, in considering what those fundamental privileges were, he said that perhaps it would be more tedious than difficult to enumerate them, but that they might be “all comprehended under the following general heads: protection by the government; the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right to acquire and possess property of every kind, and to pursue and obtain happiness and safety, subject, nevertheless, to such restraints as the government may justly prescribe for the general good of the whole.” This appears to me to be a sound construction of the clause in question. The privileges and immunities designated are those which of right belong to the citizens of all free governments. Clearly among these must be placed the right to pursue a lawful employment in a lawful manner, without other restraint than such as equally affects all persons. In the discussions in Congress upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act repeated reference was made to this language of Mr. Justice Washington. It was cited by Senator Trumbull with the observation that it enumerated the very rights belonging to a citizen of the United States set forth in the first section of the act, and with the statement that all persons born in the United States, being declared by the act citizens of the United States, would thenceforth be entitled to the rights of citizens, and that these were the great fundamental rights set forth in the act; and that they were set forth “as appertaining to every freeman.”
The privileges and immunities designated in the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution are, then, according to the decision cited, those which of right belong to the citizens of all free governments, and they can be enjoyed under that clause by the citizens of each State in the several States upon the same terms and conditions as they are enjoyed by the citizens of the latter States. No discrimination can be made by one State against the citizens of other States in their enjoyment, nor can any greater imposition be levied than such as is laid upon its own citizens. It is a clause which insures equality in the enjoyment of these rights between citizens of the several States whilst in the same State.
Nor is there anything in the opinion in the case of Paul v. Virginia,* which at all militates against these views, as is supposed by the majority of the court. The act of Virginia, of 1866, which was under consideration in that case, provided that no insurance company, not incorporated under the laws of the State, should carry on its business within the State without previously obtaining a license for that purpose; and that it should not receive such license until it had deposited with the treasurer of the State bonds of a specified character, to an amount varying from thirty to fifty thousand dollars. No such deposit was required of insurance companies incorporated by the State, for carrying on their business within the State; and in the case cited the validity of the discriminating provisions of the statute of Virginia between her own corporations and the corporations of other States, was assailed. It was contended that the statute in this particular was in conflict with that clause of the Constitution which declares that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.” But the court answered, that corporations were not citizens within the meaning of this clause; that the term citizens as there used applied only to natural persons, members of the body politic owing allegiance to the State, not to artificial persons created by the legislature and possessing only the attributes which the legislature had prescribed; that though it had been held that where contracts or rights of property were to be enforced by or against a corporation, the courts of the United States would, for the purpose of maintaining jurisdiction, consider the corporation as representing citizens of the State, under the laws of which it was created, and to this extent would treat a corporation as a citizen within the provision of the Constitution extending the judicial power of the United States to controversies between citizens of different States, it had never been held in any case which had come under its observation, either in the State or Federal courts, that a corporation was a citizen within the meaning of the clause in question, entitling the citizens of each State to the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. And the court observed, that the privileges and immunities secured by that provision were those privileges and immunities which were common to the citizens in the latter States, under their constitution and laws, by virtue of their being citizens; that special privileges enjoyed by citizens in their own States were not secured in other States by the provision; that it was not intended by it to give to the laws of one State any operation in other States; that they could have no such operation except by the permission, expressed or implied, of those States; and that the special privileges which they conferred must, therefore, be enjoyed at home unless the assent of other States to their enjoyment therein were given. And so the court held, that a corporation, being a grant of special privileges to the corporators, had no legal existence beyond the limits of the sovereignty where created, and that the recognition of its existence by other States, and the enforcement of its contracts made therein, depended purely upon the assent of those States, which could be granted upon such terms and conditions as those States might think proper to impose.
The whole purport of the decision was, that citizens of one State do not carry with them into other States any special privileges or immunities, conferred by the laws of their own States, of a corporate or other character. That decision has no pertinency to the questions involved in this case. The common privileges and immunities which of right belong to all citizens, stand on a very different footing. These the citizens of each State do carry with them into other States and are secured by the clause in question, in their enjoyment upon terms of equality with citizens of the latter States. This equality in one particular was enforced by this court in the recent case of Ward v. The State of Maryland, reported in the 12th of Wallace. A statute of that State required the payment of a larger sum from a non-resident trader for a license to enable him to sell his merchandise in the State, than it did of a resident trader, and the court held, that the statute in thus discriminating against the non-resident trader contravened the clause securing to the citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States. The privilege of disposing of his property, which was an essential incident to his ownership, possessed by the non-resident, was subjected by the statute of Maryland to a greater burden than was imposed upon a like privilege of her own citizens. The privileges of the non-resident were in this particular abridged by that legislation.
What the clause in question did for the protection of the citizens of one State against hostile and discriminating legislation of other States, the fourteenth amendment does for the protection of every citizen of the United States against hostile and discriminating legislation against him in favor of others, whether they reside in the same or in different States. If under the fourth article of the Constitution equality of privileges and immunities is secured between citizens of different States, under the fourteenth amendment the same equality is secured between citizens of the United States.
It will not be pretended that under the fourth article of the Constitution any State could create a monopoly in any known trade or manufacture in favor of her own citizens, or any portion of them, which would exclude an equal participation in the trade or manufacture monopolized by citizens of other States. She could not confer, for example, upon any of her citizens the sole right to manufacture shoes, or boots, or silk, or the sole right to sell those articles in the State so as to exclude non-resident citizens from engaging in a similar manufacture or sale. The non-resident citizens could claim equality of privilege under the provisions of the fourth article with the citizens of the State exercising the monopoly as well as with others, and thus, as respects them, the monopoly would cease. If this were not so it would be in the power of the State to exclude at any time the citizens of other States from participation in particular branches of commerce or trade, and extend the exclusion from time to time so as effectually to prevent any traffic with them.
Now, what the clause in question does for the protection of citizens of one State against the creation of monopolies in favor of citizens of other States, the fourteenth amendment does for the pretection of every citizen of the United States against the creation of any monopoly whatever. The privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, of every one of them, is secured against abridgment in any form by any State. The fourteenth amendment places them under the guardianship of the National authority. All monopolies in any known trade or manufacture are an invasion of these privileges, for they encroach upon the liberty of citizens to acquire property and pursue happiness, and were held void at common law in the great Case of Monopolies, decided during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
A monopoly is defined “to be an institution or allowance from the sovereign power of the State by grant, commission, or otherwise, to any person or corporation, for the sole buying, selling, making, working, or using of anything, whereby any person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, are sought to be restrained of any freedom or liberty they had before, or hindered in their lawful trade.” All such grants relating to any known trade or manufacture have been held by all the judges of England, whenever they have come up for consideration, to be void at common law as destroying the freedom of trade, discouraging labor and industry, restraining persons from getting an honest livelihood, and putting it into the power of the grantees to enhance the price of commodities. The definition embraces, it will be observed, not merely the sole privilege of buying and selling particular articles, or of engaging in their manufacture, but also the sole privilege of using anything by which others may be restrained of the freedom or liberty they previously had in any lawful trade, or hindered in such trade. It thus covers in every particular the possession and use of suitable yards, stables, and buildings for keeping and protecting cattle and other animals, and for their slaughter. Such establishments are essential to the free and successful prosecution by any butcher of the lawful trade of preparing animal food for market. The exclusive privilege of supplying such yards, buildings, and other conveniences for the prosecution of this business in a large district of country, granted by the act of Louisiana to seventeen persons, is as much a monopoly as though the act had granted to the company the exclusive privilege of buying and selling the animals themselves. It equally restrains the butchers in the freedom and liberty they previously had, and hinders them in their lawful trade.
The reasons given for the judgment in the Case of Monopolies apply with equal force to the case at bar. In that case a patent had been granted to the plaintiff giving him the sole right to import playing-cards, and the entire traffic in them, and the sole right to make such cards within the realm. The defendant, in disregard of this patent, made and sold some gross of such cards and imported others, and was accordingly sued for infringing upon the exclusive privileges of the plaintiff. As to a portion of the cards made and sold within the realm, he pleaded that he was a haberdasher in London and a free citizen of that city, and as such had a right to make and sell them. The court held the plea good and the grant void, as against the common law and divers acts of Parliament. “All trades,” said the court, “as well mechanical as others, which prevent idleness (the bane of the commonwealth) and exercise men and youth in labor for the maintenance of themselves and their families, and for the increase of their substance, to serve the queen when occasion shall require, are profitable for the commonwealth, and therefore the grant to the plaintiff to have the sole making of them is against the common law and the benefit and liberty of the subject.”* The case of Davenant and Hurdis was cited in support of this position. In that case a company of merchant tailors in London, having power by charter to make ordinances for the better rule and government of the company, so that they were consonant to law and reason, made an ordinance that any brother of the society who should have any cloth dressed by a cloth-worker, not being a brother of the society, should put one-half of his cloth to some brother of the same society who exercised the art of a cloth-worker, upon pain of forfeiting ten shillings, “and it was adjudged that the ordinance, although it had the countenance of a charter, was against the common law, because it was against the liberty of the subject; for every subject, by the law, has freedom and liberty to put his cloth to be dressed by what cloth-worker he pleases, and cannot be restrained to certain persons, for that in effect would be a monopoly, and, therefore, such ordinance, by color of a charter or any grant by charter or such effect, would be void.”
Although the court, in its opinion, refers to the increase in prices and deterioration in quality of commodities which necessarily result from the grant of monopolies, the main ground of the decision was their interference with the liberty of the subject to pursue for his maintenance and that of his family any lawful trade or employment. This liberty is assumed to be the natural right of every Englishman.
The struggle of the English people against monopolies forms one of the most interesting and instructive chapters in their history. It finally ended in the passage of the statute of 21st James I, by which it was declared “that all monopolies and all commissions, grants, licenses, charters, and letters-patent, to any person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, whatsoever, of or for the sole buying, selling, making, working, or using of anything” within the realm or the dominion of Wales were altogether contrary to the laws of the realm and utterly void, with the exception of patents for new inventions for a limited period, and for printing, then supposed to belong to the prerogative of the king, and for the preparation and manufacture of certain articles and ordnance intended for the prosecution of war.
The common law of England, as is thus seen, condemned all monopolies in any known trade or manufacture, and declared void all grants of special privileges whereby others could be deprived of any liberty which they previously had, or be hindered in their lawful trade. The statute of James I, to which I have referred, only embodied the law as it had been previously declared by the courts of England, although frequently disregarded by the sovereigns of that country.
The common law of England is the basis of the jurisprudence of the United States. It was brought to this country by the colonists, together with the English statutes, and was established here so far as it was applicable to their condition. That law and the benefit of such of the English statutes as existed at the time of their colonization, and which they had by experience found to be applicable to their circumstances, were claimed by the Congress of the United Colonies in 1774 as a part of their “indubitable rights and liberties.”* Of the statutes, the benefits of which was thus claimed, the statute of James I against monopolies was one of the most important. And when the Colonies separated from the mother country no privilege was more fully recognized or more completely incorporated into the fundamental law of the country than that every free subject in the British empire was entitled to pursue his happiness by following any of the known established trades and occupations of the country, subject only to such restraints as equally affected all others. The immortal document which proclaimed the independence of the country declared as self-evident truths that the Creator had endowed all men “with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”
If it be said that the civil law and not the common law is the basis of the jurisprudence of Louisiana, I answer that the decree of Louis XVI, in 1776, abolished all monopolies of trades and all special privileges of corporations, guilds, and trading companies, and authorized every person to exercise, without restraint, his art, trade, or profession, and such has been the law of France and of her colonies ever since, and that law prevailed in Louisiana at the time of her cession to the United States. Since then, notwithstanding the existence in that State of the civil law as the basis of her jurisprudence, freedom of pursuit has been always recognized as the common right of her citizens. But were this otherwise, the fourteenth amendment secures the like protection to all citizens in that State against any abridgment of their common rights, as in other States. That amendment was intended to give practical effect to the declaration of 1776 of inalienable rights, rights which are the gift of the Creator, which the law does not confer, but only recognizes. If the trader in London could plead that he was a free citizen of that city against the enforcement to his injury of monopolies, surely under the fourteenth amendment every citizen of the United States should be able to plead his citizenship of the republic as a protection against any similar invasion of his privileges and immunities.
So fundamental has this privilege of every citizen to be free from disparaging and unequal enactments, in the pursuit of the ordinary avocations of life, been regarded, that few instances have arisen where the principle has been so far violated as to call for the interposition of the courts. But whenever this has occurred, with the exception of the present cases from Louisiana, which are the most barefaced and flagrant of all, the enactment interfering with the privilege of the citizen has been pronounced illegal and void. When a case under the same law, under which the present cases have arisen, came before the Circuit Court of the United States in the District of Louisiana, there was no hesitation on the part of the court in declaring the law, in its exclusive features, to be an invasion of one of the fundamental privileges of the citizen.* The presiding justice, in delivering the opinion of the court, observed that it might be difficult to enumerate or define what were the essential privileges of a citizen of the United States, which a State could not by its laws invade, but that so far as the question under consideration was concerned, it might be safely said that “it is one of the privileges of every American citizen to adopt and follow such lawful industrial pursuit, not injurious to the community, as he may see fit, without unreasonable regulation or molestation, and without being restricted by any of those unjust, oppressive, and odious monopolies or exclusive privileges which have been condemned by all free governments.” And again: “There is no more sacred right of citizenship than the right to pursue unmolested a lawful employment in a lawful manner. It is nothing more nor less than the sacred right of labor.”
In the City of Chicago v. Rumpff,* which was before the Supreme Court of Illinois, we have a case similar in all its features to the one at bar. That city being authorized by its charter to regulate and license the slaughtering of animals within its corporate limits, the common council passed what was termed an ordinance in reference thereto, whereby a particular building was designated for the slaughtering of all animals intended for sale or consumption in the city, the owners of which were granted the exclusive right for a specified period to have all such animals slaughtered at their establishment, they to be paid a specific sum for the privilege of slaughtering there by all persons exercising it. The validity of this action of the corporate authorities was assailed on the ground of the grant of exclusive privileges, and the court said: “The charter authorizes the city authorities to license or regulate such establishments. Where that body has made the necessary regulations, required for the health or comfort of the inhabitants, all persons inclined to pursue such an occupation should have an opportunity of conforming to such regulations, otherwise the ordinance would be unreasonable and tend to oppression. Or, if they should regard it for the interest of the city that such establishments should be licensed, the ordinance should be so framed that all persons desiring it might obtain licenses by conforming to the prescribed terms and regulations for the government of such business. We regard it neither as a regulation nor a license of the business to confine it to one building or to give it to one individual. Such an action is oppressive, and creates a monopoly that never could have been contemplated by the General Assembly. It impairs the rights of all other persons, and cuts them off from a share in not only a legal, but a necessary business. Whether we consider this as an ordinance or a contract, it is equally unauthorized, as being opposed to the rules governing the adoption of municipal by-laws. The principle of equality of rights to the corporators is violated by this contract. If the common council may require all of the animals for the consumption of the city to be slaughtered in a single building, or on a particular lot, and the owner be paid a specific sum for the privilege, what would prevent the making a similar contract with some other person that all of the vegetables, or fruits, the flour, the groceries, the dry goods, or other commodities should be sold on his lot and he receive a compensation for the privilege? We can see no difference in principle.”
It is true that the court in this opinion was speaking of a municipal ordinance and not of an act of the legislature of a State. But, as it is justly observed by counsel, a legislative body is no more entitled to destroy the equality of rights of citizens, nor to fetter the industry of a city, than a municipal government. These rights are protected from invasion by the fundamental law.
In the case of the Norwich Gaslight Company v. The Norwich City Gas Company,* which was before the Supreme Court of Connecticut, it appeared that the common council of the city of Norwich had passed a resolution purporting to grant to one Treadway, his heirs and assigns, for the period of fifteen years, the right to lay gas-pipes in the streets of that city, declaring that no other person or corporation should, by the consent of the common council, lay gas-pipes in the streets during that time. The plaintiffs having purchased of Treadway, undertook to assert an exclusive right to use the streets for their purposes, as against another company which was using the streets for the same purposes. And the court said: “As, then, no consideration whatever, either of a public or private character, was reserved for the grant; and as the business of manufacturing and selling gas is an ordinary business, like the manufacture of leather, or any other article of trade in respect to which the government has no exclusive prerogative, we think that so far as the restriction of other persons than the plaintiffs from using the streets for the purpose of distributing gas by means of pipes, can fairly be viewed as intended to operate as a restriction upon its free manufacture and sale, it comes directly within the definition and description of a monopoly; and although we have no direct constitutional provision against a monopoly, yet the whole theory of a free government is opposed to such grants, and it does not require even the aid which may be derived from the Bill of Rights, the first section of which declares ‘that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive public emoluments or privileges from the community,’ to render them void.”
In the Mayor of the City of Hudson v. Thorne,† an application was made to the chancellor of New York to dissolve an injunction restraining the defendants from erecting a building in the city of Hudson upon a vacant lot owned by them, intended to be used as a hay-press. The common council of the city had passed an ordinance directing that no person should erect, or construct, or cause to be erected or constructed, any wooden or frame barn, stable, or hay-press of certain dimensions, within certain specified limits in the city, without its permission. It appeared, however, that there were such buildings already in existence, not only in compact parts of the city, but also within the prohibited limits, the occupation of which for the storing and pressing of hay the common council did not intend to restrain. And the chancellor said: “If the manufacture of pressed hay within the compact parts of the city is dangerous in causing or promoting fires, the common council have the power expressly given by their charter to prevent the carrying on of such manufacture; but as all by-laws must be reasonable, the common council cannot make a bylaw which shall permit one person to carry on the dangerous business and prohibit another who has an equal right from pursuing the same business.”
In all these cases there is a recognition of the equality of right among citizens in the pursuit of the ordinary avocations of life, and a declaration that all grants of exclusive privileges, in contravention of this equality, are against common right, and void.
This equality of right, with exemption from all disparaging and partial enactments, in the lawful pursuits of life, throughout the whole country, is the distinguishing privilege of citizens of the United States. To them, everywhere, all pursuits, all professions, all avocations are open without other restrictions than such as are imposed equally upon all others of the same age, sex, and condition. The State may prescribe such regulations for every pursuit and calling of life as will promote the public health, secure the good order and advance the general prosperity of society, but when once prescribed, the pursuit or calling must be free to be followed by every citizen who is within the conditions designated, and will conform to the regulations. This is the fundamental idea upon which our institutions rest; and unless adhered to in the legislation of the country our government will be a republic only in name. The fourteenth amendment, in my judgment, makes it essential to the validity of the legislation of every State that this equality of right should be respected. How widely this equality has been departed from, how entirely rejected and trampled upon by the act of Louisiana, I have already shown. And it is to me a matter of profound regret that its validity is recognized by a majority of this court, for by it the right of free labor, one of the most sacred and imprescriptible rights of man, is violated.* As stated by the Supreme Court of Connecticut, in the case cited, grants of exclusive privileges, such as is made by the act in question, are opposed to the whole theory of free government, and it requires no aid from any bill of rights to render them void. That only is a free government, in the American sense of the term, under which the inalienable right of every citizen to pursue his happiness is unrestrained, except by just, equal, and impartial laws.†
I am authorized by the CHIEF JUSTICE, Mr. Justice SWAYNE, and Mr. Justice BRADLEY, to state that they concur with me in this dissenting opinion.
An ardent abolitionist from Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-93) served in the Union Army during the Civil War, seeing extensive combat and reaching the rank of major general. Elected to Congress before the war’s end, he later served as Ohio’s governor. His election to the presidency in 1876 was marked by scandal and charges of corruption. His opponent, Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, won the popular vote and held more electoral votes than Hayes, one shy of a majority. Congress appointed an electoral commission to decide which candidate should receive the electoral votes from three Southern states whose electoral votes were in dispute. On a party-line vote, the commission awarded all the electoral votes to Hayes, giving him the presidency. Charges were made of a stolen election and also of a deal according to which Hayes would be given the presidency in exchange for an end to Reconstruction and provision of government aid to the South. No federal aid was forthcoming. But soon after his election, Hayes removed the final federal troops from former Confederate states, ending attempts at Reconstruction.
[* ] 2 Commentaries, 340.
[† ] Commonwealth v. Alger, 7 Cushing, 84.
[‡ ] Thorpe v. Rutland and Burlington Railroad Co., 27 Vermont, 149.
[* ] 9 Wheaton, 203.
[† ] 11 Peters, 102.
[‡ ] 5 Wallace, 471.
[§ ] 9. Id. 41.
[* ] 4 Wheaton, 316.
[* ] Matter of Turner, 1 Abbott United States Reports, 84.
[* ] 4 Washington’s Circuit Court, 371.
[† ] 12 Wallace, 430.
[* ] 8 Id. 180.
[* ] 6 Wallace, 36.
[* ] The proclamation of its ratification was made on that day (13 Stat. at Large, 774).
[† ] 14 Id. 27.
[* ] Congressional Globe, 1st Session, 39th Congress, part 1, page 474.
[* ] Calhoun’s Works, vol. 2, p. 242.
[* ] May 31st, 1870; 16 Stat. at Large, 144.
[† ] 4 Washington’s Circuit Court, 380.
[* ] 8 Wallace, 168.
[* ] Coke’s Reports, part 11, page 86.
[* ] Journals of Congress, vol. i, pp. 28-30.
[* ] Live-Stock, &c., Association v. The Crescent City, &c., Company (1 Abbott’s United States Reports, 398).
[* ] 45 Illinois, 90.
[* ] 25 Connecticut, 19.
[† ] 7 Paige, 261.
[* ] “The property which every man has in his own labor,” says Adam Smith, “as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of the poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his own hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper, without injury to his neighbor, is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty both of the workman and of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from employing whom they think proper.” (Smith’s Wealth of Nations, b. 1, ch. 10, part 2.)
In the edict of Louis XVI, in 1776, giving freedom to trades and professions prepared by his minister, Turgot, he recites the contributions that had been made by the guilds and trade companies, and says: “It was the allurement of these fiscal advantages undoubtedly that prolonged the illusion and concealed the immense injury they did to industry and their infraction of natural right. This illusion had extended so far that some persons asserted that the right to work was a royal privilege which the king might sell, and that his subjects were bound to purchase from him. We hasten to correct this error and to repel the conclusion. God in giving to man wants and desires rendering labor necessary for their satisfaction, conferred the right to labor upon all men, and this property is the first, most sacred, and imprescriptible of all.” . . . He, therefore, regards it “as the first duty of his justice, and the worthiest act of benevolence, to free his subjects from any restriction upon this inalienable right of humanity.”
[† ] “Civil liberty, the great end of all human society and government, is that state in which each individual has the power to pursue his own happiness according to his own views of his interest, and the dictates of his conscience, unrestrained, except by equal, just, and impartial laws.” (1 Sharswood’s Blackstone, 127, note 8.)