On This Day in Purple

September 3, 2020

Emory Speer was born September 3, 1848

Emory served as an Independent in congress, from Georgia, in the 46th-47th Congress (March 4, 1879 -March 3, 1883)

Born in Culloden, Georgia on September 3, 1848, Speer attempted to run for Congress in 1877 as a traditional Southern Democrat but failed to win the party’s support. Speer subsequently switched affiliation to Independent in 1878 and won election. His comity with Republican leadership over the two terms would cost him reelection in 1882: Southern Democrats exercised election interference in the 1882 race, employing both violent intimidation of African American voters and fraud to ensure Speer’s defeat.

Speer would go on to be U.S. Attorney in Georgia to protect the already-crumbling infrastructure of Reconstruction. After appointment to the federal district bench he presided over a landmark case, Jamison v. Wimbish (1904), which challenged the constitutionality of chain gangs and debt peonage through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

Source: Emory Speer


In 1986, 34 Democratic and 29 Republican Senators signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, creating a citizenship path for illegal immigrants while making it a Federal crime to employ illegal workers. The House also voted in favor, 238 to 173. The bill was signed into law on November 6, 1986. 


In 1972, 17 Republican Senators joined 35 Democratic Senators to override the Nixon Administration veto of the Clean Water Act, a landmark piece of environmental legislation. The House override vote was 247 to 23, including 96 Republicans and 151 Democrats in the majority.


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