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  • Catharine Brown, Complaint

    Catharine Brown filed suit against the Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown Railroad in March 1868, arguing that a month earlier she was forcibly and violently ejected from the ladies car in Alexandria, Virginia, because of her color. She sought damages of $20,000 to pay for her medical care and to compensate for the injustice of segregation and discrimination. Brown's original petition focused on the railroad's duty as a common carrier and on Brown's first-class ticket which permitted her to ride in the ladies car.

  • | Document

    Order for travel, Freedmen's Bureau

    A type of travel document issued for travel under the auspices of the Freemen's Bureau. This August 22, 1866, voucher authorizes travel from Washington, D. C. to Southwick, Massachusetts on the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad. Many emancipated African Americans traveled American railroads to old and new homes in the wake of the Civil War - the Freemen's Burueau paid for much of the travel.

  • | Document

    Travel Accounting, Freedmen's Bureau

    An accounting of Freedmen's Bureau-sponsored travel on the Virginia Central Railroad during the first half of 1867. Many emancipated African Americans traveled American railroads to old and new homes in the wake of the Civil War - the Freemen's Burueau paid for much of the travel.

  • | Document

    Travel Order Freedmen's Bureau

    A Freedmen's Bureau travel voucher for 107 adults and 16 children (under 12) - "destitute freedpeople" traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to Plaquemines, Louisiana. Generally, when large numbers of freedpeople travelled, it was under the terms of a labor contract.

  • | Government report

    Testimony of Major Erasmus L. Wentz, Superintendent of Norfolk and Petersburg R.R

    Major Erasmus L. Wentz, supervising work on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, testifies as to the quality of contraband labor over that of Irish workers. Wentz notes that the contrabands work for less pay.

  • | Legal decision

    Catharine Brown, Plaintiff's Prayers

    A brief description of the judgement Catherine Brown hoped for as the jury decided her case.

  • | Legal decision

    Seth E. Beedy Deposition

    Catharine Brown's attorneys deposed two white men who were on the train with Brown and witnessed her expulsion from the cars in Alexandria. Both lived in Maine and were deposed in December 1869. Seth Beedy was traveling with Benjamin Hinds, who knew and recognized "Kate" Brown. Beedy testified, "she was ejected by violence and that alone."

  • | Legal decision

    Benjamin H. Hinds Deposition

    Catharine Brown's attorneys deposed two white men who were on the train with Brown and witnessed her expulsion from the cars in Alexandria. Both lived in Maine and were deposed in December 1869. Benjamin Hinds' testimony was particularly significant because he described in detail the violence he witnessed, and because he knew Brown "since January 1866," perhaps from her work in the U.S. Capitol, and tried to intervene on her behalf.

  • | Legal decision

    Draft of Catharine Brown, Evidence Given

    Catharine Brown's case--Case No. 4582--was scheduled to go to trial in October 1868 in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, but was delayed because of various procedural motions by the railroad's attorneys. When these motions were denied, the case was tried over three days in March 1870. The all white jury rendered a verdict of guilty against the railroad company and awarded Brown $1,500 in damages. Then, the defendant railroad attorney's sought an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is their statement of argument, denying that the railroad used violence or made derogatory remarks. Furthermore, in denying Brown's claims, the railroad argued that there were distinctions between through and local passenger types of service, even on the Baltimore and Ohio, and that separate colored cars on local lines were run at the request of black passengers.

  • | Letter

    Letter from W. P. Smith to J. W. Garrett, August 8, 1862

    The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Master of Transportation, W. P. Smith, writes to the firm's president of the "rough" removal of a nurse from a B and O train.

  • | Letter

    Letter from J. W. Garrett to General M. C. Meigs, August 9, 1862

    The President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad writes to General Meigs about the treatment of nurses on his rail line following an incident reported by Dorothea Dix.

  • | Letter

    Letter from E. L. Wentz to Daniel Craig McCallum, October 13, 1862

    E. L. Wentz, of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, asks for suggestions about providing shoes for contraband workers on the railroad.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Clifford Percival to John H. Devereux, October 13, 1863

    An engineer/machinist escaped from the South inquires about employment opportunities on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

  • | Letter

    Letter from W. W. McCafferty to F. P. Lord, November 19, 1863

    McCafferty notes damage done to Engine Rapidan by contrabands.

  • | Letter

    Request for passes for African American railroad workers

    Passes for African American railroad employees requested of W. J. Stevens, Superintendent of the Military Railroad, Nashville.

  • | Letter

    Letter from W. W. McCafferty to J. H. Devereaux, January 29, 1864

    An inquiry about re-hiring a blacksmith for the military railroad.

  • | Letter

    Letter from John Isom to Daniel Craig McCallum, February 18, 1864

    John Isom designates a black church in Nashville to serve as a copper and tin shop.

  • | Letter

    Letter from E. Benjamin to Adna Anderson, February 20, 1864

    E. Benjamin requests passes for black workers so that they may avoid impressment.

  • | Letter

    Letter from A. M. Clapp to Daniel Craig McCallum, March 14, 1864

    McCallum is presented with two female volunteers and asked to provide transportation if their services are needed.

  • | Letter

    Letter from Adna Anderson to Daniel Craig McCallum, July 12, 1864

    A report about the state of the railroads around Nashville in the wake of ongoing guerilla destruction.