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About this collection

Plessy vs. Ferguson was a landmark civil-rights case that went before the United States Supreme court in 1896 that upheld the constitutionality of state Jim Crow laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities and established the “separate but equal” doctrine which remained until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which overturned it. The law was unsuccessfully challenged by the Comité des Citoyens and Homer Adolphe Plessy. This collection contains primary sources for the case including transcripts of the original court case, the legal arguments used by civil rights activist Albion W. Tourgée against the Separate Car Act of 1890, the defense of the arguments by Judge John Howard Ferguson and the decisions by former Governor and Chief Justice Francis T. Nicholls.

 

Item 1: Petition to the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana by Albion W. Tourgée and James C. Walker, counsel for Plessy, Nov. 22, 1892. Manuscript. 7 pages and blank cover. Notarized by Louis A. Martinet, notary public. Signed by H. A. Plessy and Louis A. Martinet.

Item 2: Exhibit A. Second Recorder's Court of the City of New Orleans. #7657. The State v. Homer Adolph Plessy. Affadavit by Detective Chris C. Cain, June 8, 1892. Manuscript. 2 pages.Recorder: A. R. Moulin. State's witnesses: J. L. Scott, 19 Commercial Place; J. J. Dowling, conductor, 122 Common. Certified copy by J. Malloy, deputy clerk, Nov. 21, 1892.

Item 3: Exhibit B. Criminal District Court for the Parish of Orleans. #19117. The State vs. Homer Adolph Plessy. Bill of information-- violating provisions of Act. #111 of 1890. Lionel Adams, assistant district attorney  for Orleans Parish. Manuscript. 2 pages. F. J. Letter, minute clerk, filed July 20, 1892. Certified copy by M. Malloy, deputy clerk, Nov. 21, 1892.

Item 4: Exhibit C. State of Louisiana. "An act to promote the comfort of passengers on railway trains... " #111, July 10, 1890. Typescript 4 pages and green paper cover.

Item 5: Exhibit D. Criminal District Court...Parish of Orleans. Section A.#19117. The State v. Homer Adolph Plessy. Defendant's plea, Oct. 13, 1892. Typescript 6 pages.and gray paper covet. On cover: order by Francis T. Nicholls, Chief Justice of Louisiana (signature), Nov. 22, 1892. Service of records, J. H. Ferguson, Judge, Nov. 23, 1892. For writs of prohibition and certiorari.

Item 6: Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana. #11134. Ex parte Homer A. Plessy. Writs of prohibition and certiorari to be served on John H. Ferguson, Judge, Section A Criminal District Court. Francis T. Nicholls, Chief Justice, Nov. 22, 1892. C. W. Buchanan, deputy clerk. Manuscript. 2 pages.

Item 7: Criminal District Court... Parish of Orleans. Section A. #19117. The State v. Homer Adolph Plessy. Certified copy of proceedings. Includes Bill of information, defendant's plea, demurrer by Asst. District Attorney, joinder to demurrer. Manuscript. 26 pages.and 4 covers.

Item 8: Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana. #11134. Ex parte Homer A. Plessy. Sheriff's return. James Drignan, deputy sheriff, Nov. 23, 1892. Filed Nov. 28, 1892. Manuscript. 2 pages.

Item 9: Ibid. #11134 Answer of John H. Ferguson, Presiding Judge, Criminal District Court, Section A, to application for writs of prohibition and certiorari, with signature of respondent, John H. Ferguson,  filed Nov. 26, 1892. Typescript 4 pages and two covers.

Item 10: Ibid. #11134 Brief of relator for writs of prohibition and certiorari to the judge of Section A, Criminal District Court, for the parish of Orleans, by Albion W. Tourgee and James C. Walker, attorneys for relator. (Printed by A. W. Hyatt Stationery Mfg. Co., Ltd., 73 Camp St., N. 0.). 22 pages.and cover. On cover: ....La copy of this brief has been Served [on] Lionel Adams, Esq. opposing Counsel.”

Item 11:  Ibid. #11134  Application for writs of prohibition and certiorari. Brief  for respondent, John H. Ferguson, by Lionel Adams, attorney for respondent. (Printed by V. Mauberret, printer, 112, 114 Poydras St., N. O. 30 pages and cover.

Item 12 (bound with item 11): Ibid. #111134. Syllabus, ex parte Homer A. Plessy [on behalf of respondent]. 5 pages.

Item 13: Ibid. #11134. Opinion and judgment by Charles E. Fenner, Associate Justice. Filed December 19, 1892. Manuscript. 17 pages.and cover. "70-86" numbered pages.

Item 14: Ibid. #11134. Petition for a rehearing by Albion W. Tourgée and James C. Walker, attorneys for Plessy. Dec. 26, 1892. Manuscript. 4 pages.

Item 15: Ibid. #11134. Relator's brief for a rehearing, December 24, 1892. 3 pages.(ca. December 1892). Note. items 14 and 15 are enclosed in a folder, annotated:  Rehearing refused, Jan. 2, 1893."

Item 16: Circuit Court of the U. S. for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Copy of writ of error lodged in the clerk's office of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Jan. 5, 1893. Manuscript. 3 pages.

Item 17: Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana. #11134. It parts Homer A. Plessy. Bond for writ of error. Signatures: H. A. Plessy, Paul Bonseigneur (surety), Francis T. Nicholls, Chief Justice, and T. Mc. Hyman, Clerk, Supreme Court of Louisiana. Manuscript. 2 pages.

Item 18: Supreme Court of the U. S. #210. Plessy v. Ferguson. Provisional writ of prohibition dissolved by Supreme Court of Louisiana, December 19, 1892. Affirmed by the U. S. Supreme Court, May 18, 1896. Remanded to Supreme Court of Louisiana, September 28, 1896. Manuscript. 4 pages.



 
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