The Reconstruction Amendments were the three amendments to the United States Constitution that occurred in the years after the end of the American Civil War. These include the Thirteenth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment. Together, the three amendments sought to resolve issues that still existed from the American Civil War, including the practise of slavery and rights for the former slaves. As well, they each had a profound impact on life for people in the United States including the Reconstruction Era.
SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES & THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
Slavery in the United States existed from the period of Colonial America in the early 17th century until the events of the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 until 1865. Throughout this timeframe, many slaves were brought from Africa to the territory of the United States via the Atlantic Slave Trade. Many of these slaves ended up working on plantations and households across the United States, and played a significant role in the production of certain goods. However, slavery in the United States came into question in the 19th century due to the growth of the American Abolitionist Movement.
The American Abolitionist Movement is the name for the advancements made in the United States towards ending the practise of slavery. For instance, the term ‘abolition’ means to stop or end something. As such, an abolitionist is someone who was working to ban slavery. The American Abolitionist Movement is considered to have occurred from the late 1700s until 1865 when the American government abolished slavery following the end of the American Civil War.
The American Civil War first began in 1861 and continued until 1865. It was one of the most significant events in all of American history and had a profound impact on the development of the United States. At its heart, the American Civil War was the result of growing tensions between the Northern states and Southern states on the issue of slavery, among other things. In general, the American Civil War involved the Northern states (also referred to as the ‘Union’) and the Southern states (also referred to as the ‘Confederacy’) fighting in many different major and bloody conflicts. Following the Union’s victory in the Civil War, the government worked to formally abolish slavery and protect the rights of former slaves.
THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
The Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution abolished slavery in the United States. Many lawmakers believed it necessary to abolish slavery as a means of reuniting the Northern and Southern states following the destruction of the American Civil War. For instance, while the earlier Emancipation Proclamation limited the practise of slavery, it did not put a full end to the practise. Following its passage in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Thirteenth Amendment then needed to be ratified by the states. North Carolina and Georgia ratified the amendment ion early December, which gave it the necessary majority for it to become part of the Constitution. As such on, December 18th in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution had been adopted.
The Thirteenth Amendment had several main impacts on the United States in the time after the end of the Civil War. First and foremost, it immediately freed any slaves who had not been freed earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. For the most part, these were slaves that were held in the border states that were not originally covered in the Emancipation Proclamation. Click the links above to read more about the Thirteenth Amendment including the original text of the amendment.
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
The Fourteenth Amendment dealt with citizenship rights and equal protection under the law for former slaves. It was ratified on July 8th, 1868, just three years after the Thirteenth Amendment, which had abolished slavery. There were many different proposals of the Fourteenth Amendment that were constructed throughout 1865 and 1866. The central issues of the time centered on voting rights for former slaves and equal protection under the law regardless of race. Finally, in April of 1866, a proposal was sent forward to Congress that included elements of both.
The Fourteenth Amendment had several main impacts on the United States in the time after the end of the Civil War. Out of the of the three ‘Reconstruction Amendments’ the Fourteenth Amendment has likely had the biggest impact on American society. For instance, not only did it impact life for people in the 19th century, but it has remained relevant throughout the 20th century and now in the 21st century. For instance, several major court decisions were decided based upon the sections outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment. One of the most significant Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century was the ‘Brown v. Board of Education’ in 1954. It was a historic ruling by the Supreme Court because it stated that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Click the links above to read more about the Fourteenth Amendment, including the original text of the amendment.
FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONTITUTION
The Fifteenth Amendment protected the right to vote for people especially in relation to former slaves. It was ratified on February 3rd, 1870, just two years after the Fourteenth Amendment, which had dealt with citizenship rights and equal protection under the law for former slaves.
The Fifteenth Amendment was the last of the three ‘Reconstruction Amendments’ and finalized the lingering tensions of the earlier American Civil War. Since the end of the Civil War in 1865, the issue of voting rights for African Americans was a hotly debated topic. As such, when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed in 1870 it was a widely celebrated piece of legislation, especially in black communities throughout the United States. The Fifteenth Amendment was a pivotal moment in American history as it extended the voting rights to millions of more people. Click the links above to read more about the Fifteenth Amendment, including the original text of the amendment.
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