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.

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The Supreme Court of the D. C.
Catharine Brown
Wash. Alex. & Geo. R. R. Defendant
At Law

In the trial of this case before the Jury the evidence was given tending to show that on the 8th day of February 1868 the plaintiff a colored person purchased a ticket at the depot of the Railroad office on Maryland Avenue in the City of Washington D. C. for the sum of twenty five cents to go to Alexandria, Va. From said City, and to return. After the purchase of the ticket the plaintiff went to take one of the cars when some one behind said "Take the other car". She paid no attention to the remark but entered the car and was carried to Alexandria. That the car the plaintiff entered was the last car of the train and was called the ladies car and was set apart exclusively for white ladies and gentlemen with white ladies. That on the same day the plaintiff in the City of Alexandria state of Virginia having in her possession the portion of said ticket which entitled her to return to the City of Washington en–

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tered the last car of the train for that purpose, and after she had entered the same a man stationed at the depot whose duty it was to direct passengers to cars & see they entered therein, and who was employed by Stevens & Phelps (insertion — & paid jointly by lessees & the Receiver) lessees of said road, within the State of Virginia — that the said lessees also acted as Superintendent & Manager within the District of Columbia under appointment from J. H. Lathrop the Receiver — said road within the said District — that the said man strained as aforesaid to direct passengers informed the plaintiff she could not ride in that car, but she should take the forward car, that he had been instructed by the persons in charge of the road not to permit colored persons to ride in that car, but that there was another car for them. [unclear] the plaintiff refused to leave the car she had entered, whereupon the man attempted to put her out by great force and violence with [unclear] indignities, and on the part of the defendant evidence was given tending to show that no more force was used than sufficient to put her out, and no unnecessary

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Violence or force was used, and no insults or indignities were offered the plaintiff — What the said man finally after calling assistance succeeded in putting the plaintiff of the car.

Evidence was given by plaintiff tending to show that the man who ejected her told her that "no damned niggers should ride in that car, that they never had and never should", and that in ejecting her from the car he wrenched her wrist, struck her over the eye and kicked her, and dragged her down on the pavement and left her there — And on the part of the defendant evidence was given tending to show that no such expressions as those last above mentioned were made use of by the individual ejecting plaintiff, nor was she subjected to the violence also last above mentioned. And on cross examination of the plaintiff evidence was further given tending to show that if the man who ejected the plaintiff had told the plaintiff that both cars were alike, and had asked her to go into the other car without saying "damned niggers" were not

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allowed to ride in that car, the plaintiff declared that she would have gone therein, but when he told the plaintiff that was the objection the plaintiff determined to go therein.

The Plaintiff afterwards with the assistance of a friend who approached her entered another car on the same train and was safely carried to Washington.

That these were three cars on said trains, all made at the same time substantially alike and equally safe & comfortable but evidence on the part of the plaintiff was offered tending to show that the car she was compelled to ride there was smoking & spitting, and was not as clean or comfortable to her. There was a reputation that the first car going from Washington to Alexandria was used for colored persons and the last car for white ladies aforesaid, when in returning to Washington from Alex. The first car going down carrying colored persons became the last car coming up, and was used for white ladies, and the last car going to Alexandria

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carrying white ladies became the first car coming back, and was used for colored persons.

That the portion of paid railroad within the District of Columbia was in the possession, and under the control of J. H. Lathrop, Esq. a Receiver appointed by the Supreme Court of the D. C. in Equity causes Nos. 757 & 773 wherein Davison et al in re complaints and the Washin Alex & Geo R. R. Co. (here set out decree) was defendant and that portion of the road within the State of Virginia was in the possession of Messers Stevens & Phelps as Lessess under the following lease. Here set out the lease - also acts of the Virginia Legislature as to confirmation of corporations. Also acts of Congress & deed of trust from Lathrop to Stewart

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That evidence was given by the plaintiff tending to show that on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad there is, on the general or through trains, no distinction made in regard to the cars in which white and colored persons shall ride; but that on the local trains, at the request of certain colored persons a car had been set apart for colored people, through they are not compelled to ride therein and can ride in the other cars if they choose. And evidence was also given by colored persons that they have ridden over the B & O RR in the car with white people without molestation, and that when they have ridden in the car called the colored car on the local train white people have also ridden therein.

And evidence was further given tending to show that Oscar A. Stevens was working the road under J. H. Lathrop Receiver as Superintendent for this end of the line that is within the District of Columbia, and was one of the lessees of the road on the south side of the river, but was superintending the operations of the road at both ends, and managed the entire road, as

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[unclear] of the lessees, and as Superintendent under Lathrop Receiver of this end.

The receipts & expenses of the whole line were equally divided between the Receiver & the lessees.

Whereupon the plaintiff asked the Court to instruct the jury as follows:
[here set out instructions granted]

To each & all of which the defendant objected, but the court overruled the objections of the defendant, and granted the same, to which rulings the defendant severally excepted, and prays the same advantage as if it had had several & separate bills of exception signed & sealed.

And thereupon also the defendant prayed the Court to instruct the jury as follows. [here set out prayers of the

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defendant which were refused]
but the Court refused to give either or any [unclear] said prayers, to which several rulings therefore the defendant severally excepted, and prayers of the same advantage as if several separate bills of exception were signed & sealed.

And all of which is allowed and signed & sealed this 28th day of April 1870.

About this Document

  • Publisher: National Archives and Records Administration
  • Date: April 28, 1870