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Railroad Company v. Brown

84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 445 (1873)

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Railroad Company v. Brown

United States Supreme Court

84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 445 (1873)

Facts

Catharine Brown (plaintiff), a Black woman, bought a train ticket with the Washington, Alexandria, and Georgetown Railroad Company (railroad company) (defendant) to ride from Alexandria to Washington. There were two train cars, one for Black passengers and another for White passengers. A railroad-company employee directed Brown to enter on the former car, but Brown initially refused. She was then physically forced off the car and entered the car designated for Black passengers. Years prior to the incident, the railroad company’s successor sought congressional approval to expand its operations. Congress granted the request via statute on the condition that no person could be excluded from the railroad’s cars based on color. Brown filed suit in federal court. The district court found in favor of Brown and assessed a monetary judgment against the railroad company. The railroad company appealed, arguing that its policy separating passengers between cars was a way of accommodating persons of all races.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Davis, J.)

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