An Act to Require Railroad Companies to Provide Separate Cars for White and Colored Passengers

Virginia's separate coach law, approved in January of 1900 and enacted July 1900.

Approved January 30, 1900.

1. Be it enacted by the general assembly of Virginia, That all railroad companies or corporations, person or persons running or operating cars or coaches by steam on any railroad line or track within this state, and all railroad companies, person or persons doing business in this state, whether upon the lines of railroad owned in part or whole, or leased by lines that may hereafter be granted in this state, and all foreign corporations, companies, person or persons organized under charters granted or that may be hereafter granted by any otber state, who may be now or may hereafter be engaged in running or operating any of the railroads of this state, either in part or whole, either in their own name or that of others, are hereby required to furnish separate coaches or ears for the travel or transportation of the white and colored passengers on their respective lines of railroad. Each compartment of a coach divided by a good and substantial partition with a door therein, shall be deemed a separate coach within the meaning of this act, and each separate coach and compartment shall bear in some conspicuous place appropriate words in plain letters indicating the race for which it is set apart.

2. Be it further enacted, That the railroad companies, person, or persons shall make no difference or discrimination in the quality, convenience or accommodation in the cars or coaches or partitions set apart for white and colored passengers.

3. Be it further enacted, That any railroad company or companies that shall fail, refuse, or neglect to comply with the provisions of sections one and two of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon indictment and conviction thereof, shall he fined not less than three hundred nor more than one thousand dollars for each offense.

4. Be it further enacted, That all county courts in whose counties railroads are operating and corporation courts of cities shall have complete jurisdiction over such offenses.

5. Be it further enacted, That the conductors or managers on all railroads shall have power, and are hereby required, to assign to each white or colored passenger his or her respective car, coach, or compartment, and should any passenger refuse to occupy the car, coach, or compartment to which he or she may he assigned by the conductor or manager, said conductor or manager shall have the right to refuse to carry such passenger on his train, and may put such passenger off of the train. And for such refusal and putting off of the train, neither the manager, conductor, nor railroad company shall be liable for damages in any court.

6. Be it further enacted, That any conductor or manager on any railroad who shall fail or refuse to carry out the provisions of section five of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon indictment and conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.

7. Be it further enacted, That when any coach or compartment of a car for either race shall be completely filled, where no extra coaches or ears can be had and the increased number of passengers could not be foreseen, the conductor in charge of such trains is hereby authorized to assign and set apart a portion of the ear or compartment assigned to passengers of one race to passengers of another race.

8. Be it further enacted, That the provisions of this act shall not apply to employees on railroads, or persons employed as nurses, or officers in charge of prisoners, nor shall the same apply to the transportation of passengers in any caboose car attached to a freight train, nor to Pullman ears, nor through or express trains that do no local business.

9. This act shall be in force from July first, nineteen hundred.

About this Document

  • Source: Acts and Joint Resolutions Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Virginia During the Session of 1899-1900
  • Author: State of Virginia
  • Publisher: J. H. O'Bannon, Superintendant of Public Printing
  • Published: Richmond, Virginia
  • Citation: Pages 236-237
  • Date: 1900