The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 394
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Cain filed suit against the I. & G. N. and the Pullman companies in
Galveston County District Court and a trial on the merits resulted in a
verdict in his favor with an award of $100oo for damages. The Pullman
Company appealed but found little sympathy in the Texas Court of Civil
Appeals, which sustained the award to Cain. The court held that the
Pullman Company was liable for damages because it did not fulfill its
contract with Cain to provide him with first-class accommodations. Chief
Justice Garrett, author of the court's opinion, argued that the Pullman
Company could comply with the law by furnishing separate sleeping cars
for blacks and whites.2 This would never happen. The cost of doubling
the company's fleet and workforce in the South would have been pro-
hibitive, especially given low patronage of Pullman cars by the black
population, which was generally too poor to purchase first-class service.
Through the end of the Jim Crow era, trains entering Texas from segre-
gation-free states to the north and west retained integrated sleeping
cars, regardless of what legislators in Austin decreed.
One surmises that the justices on the Texas Court of Civil Appeals sym-
pathized with Cain for economic reasons. No doubt they, too, could
afford the comfort of first-class accommodations. They likely viewed the
railroad's decision to turn a paying customer out of his sleeping car as
disconcerting, even if that customer was black. The court was less sympa-
thetic to discrimination complaints of coach passengers, black or white.
Just a year before, the same court had affirmed dismissal of a suit brought
against the Galveston, Houston & San Antonio Railway Company by a
black passenger who had been compelled to travel between Gonzales and
Harwood in a day coach that lacked a stove, toilet facilities, and a drink-
ing water tank.' Twenty years later the court also affirmed dismissal of a
suit brought against the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company by
white passengers forced to ride in the same car with black passengers
between Austin and San Marcos when flood damage disrupted regular
In both of these decisions the court's opinions stated that enforcement
of the separate coach law was a matter reserved for action by the state.
Only the state, it argued, could prescribe penalties against offending
2 Ibid. The court ruled on the basis of contract law rather than civil rights law on the theory
that Cain had paid for a level of service that was promised but not delivered.
" Norwood v. Galveston, Houston & San Antonso Ry. Co., 34 S.W. 18o (Tex. Civ. App., 1896).
However, see Henderson v. Galveston, H. & S A. Ry. Co., 38 S.W. 1136 (Tex. Civ. App. 1896). In
this latter case, a black minister who had paid for passage from San Antonio to Hondo was com-
pelled to ride m a coach with no toilet facilities. The court found that he was entitled to damages
for his pain and humiliation. In the same year and m cases involving the same railroad, the same
court ruled against one black plaintiff and for another. The only difference in those cases was in
the social status of the black plaintiffs (one being a preacher).
4 Weller et ux. v. Mzssoun, K & TRy Co. et al., 187 S.W. 374 (Tex. Clv. App. 1916).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/438/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.