Congress took the leadership in adopting civil rights laws after the Civil War. The Ohio legislature followed along haltingly. It did not produce its first civil rights statute until 1884. Although more than two decades behind the federal government, the assembly adopted a series of laws prohibiting racial discrimination in jury selection, admission to public places, and it prescribed penalties for violators. The will of Congress to protect civil rights did not go beyond the 1880s. In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court struck down federal protection for civil rights. Ohio then slowed its reform movement. It had never actually decriminalized intimate contact between the races. Consequently, Ohio entered the twentieth century following a conservative racial policy.
An act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights. Approved February 7, 1884, Laws of Ohio.
Whereas, it is essential to just government that we recognize and protect all men as equal before the law, and that a democratic form of government should mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, persuasion, religious or political; and it being the appropriate object of legislation to enact great fundamental principles into law, therefore,
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That all persons within the jurisdiction of said state shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privilege of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters and other