WHEREAS, The first Article and the first Section of the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of the State of Tennessee declares: “That all power is inherent in the people, and all free Governments are founded on their authority and institute for their peace, safety and happiness, for the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable an indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish the Government in such manner as they may think proper;” and . . .

. . . WHEREAS, The same authoritative voice in section 9th of the schedule delegated to the General Assembly meeting first under this amended Constitution, the right to fix the qualification of voters and the limitation of the elective franchise ; therefore, acting faithfully under and in accordance with this delegation of supreme power;

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That the following persons, to-wit:

  • Every white man twenty-one years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the County wherein he may offer his vote six months next preceding the day of election . . . .

. . . SEC. 3. Be it further enacted, That free persons of color may exercise and pursue all or any business not in violation of the law, when they may obtain such license under the laws of this State as is applicable to the exercise of such privileges by free white persons.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That persons of African and Indian descent are hereby declared competent witnesses in all the courts of this State, in as full manner as such persons are by an Act of Congress competent witnesses in all the courts of the United States, and all laws and parts of laws of the State excluding such persons from competency are hereby repealed.

Provided, however, that this Act shall not be so construed as to give colored persons the right to vote, hold office or sit on juries in this State. And that this provision is inserted by virtue of the provision of the ninth section of the Amended Constitution; ratified February 22, 1865.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That all Negroes, Mulattoes, Mestizoes, and their descendants, having any African blood in their veins, shall be known in this State as “Persons of Color.”

SEC. 2. Be it further enacted, That persons of color have the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue and be sued, to be parties and give evidence, to inherit, and to have full and equal benefits of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and estate, and shall not be subject to any other or different punishment, pains or penalty, for the commission of any act or offence, that such as are prescribed for white persons committing like acts or offences.

SEC. 3. Be it further enacted, That all persons of color, being blind, deaf and dumb, lunatics, paupers or apprentices, shall have the full and perfect benefit and application of all laws regulating and providing for white persons being blind or deaf and dumb or lunatics or paupers or either (in asylums for their benefit) and apprentices.

SEC. 4. Be it further enacted, That all acts or parts of acts and laws, inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed : Provided, That nothing in this act shall be so construed to admit persons of color to serve on the jury: and provided further, That the provisions of this act shall not be so construed as to require the education of colored and white children in the same school.

SEC. 5. Be it further enacted, That all free persons of color who were living together as husband and wife in this State, while in a state of slavery, are hereby declared to be man and wife, and their children legitimately entitled to an inheritance in any property heretofore acquired, or that may hereafter be acquired by said parents, to as full an extent as the children of white citizens are now entitled, by the existing laws of this State. . . .


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