- An overview and the 13th Amendment
- Life after slavery for African Americans
- Black Codes
- The First KKK
- The Freedmen's Bureau
- The 14th Amendment
- The 15th Amendment
- The Compromise of 1877
- Failure of Reconstruction
- Comparing the effects of the Civil War on American national identity
The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, granted voting rights to all U.S. citizens, regardless of race or previous servitude. However, Southern states used tactics like poll taxes and grandfather clauses to prevent African Americans from voting. The Supreme Court upheld these practices until the Civil Rights Movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Created by Aspen Institute.
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- Why didn't they let blacks vote in the south if the amendment declared it? How come white women could vote but not black women?(7 votes)
- So I got a bit confused. Are the 14th and 15th Amendments the Civil Rights Act? Or are they 2 different things?(5 votes)
- These are two different things. One from the late 19th century, and the other from the mid-20th.(7 votes)
- how differnt was all the amendments(4 votes)
- whats the difference between civil rights and political rights?(2 votes)
- Political rights "belong to" civil rights. You can find an excellent description here http://www.lincoln.edu/criminaljustice/hr/Civilandpolitical.htm(3 votes)
- Were these amendments enforced within the southern states?(2 votes)
- what was the fiftenth amendment.(2 votes)
- To former abolitionists and to the Radical Republicans in Congress who fashioned Reconstruction after the Civil War, the 15th Amendment, enacted in 1870, appeared to signify the fulfillment of all promises to African Americans. Set free by the 13th amendment, with citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, Black males were given the vote by the 15th Amendment. In retrospect, it can be seen that the 15th Amendment was in reality only another step in the struggle for equality that would continue for more than a century before African Americans could begin to participate fully in American public and civic life.
African Americans exercised the right to vote and held office in many Southern states through the 1880s, but in the early 1890s, steps were taken to ensure subsequent “white supremacy.” Literacy tests for the vote, “grandfather clauses” excluding from the franchise all whose ancestors had not voted in the 1860s, and other devices to disenfranchise African Americans were written into the laws of former Confederate states.
Social and economic segregation were added to Black America’s loss of political power. In 1896, the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson legalized “separate but equal” facilities for the races. For more than 50 years, the overwhelming majority of African American citizens were reduced to second-class citizenship under the “Jim Crow” segregation system. During that time, African Americans sought to secure their rights and improve their position through organizations such as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League and through the individual efforts of reformers like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and A. Philip Randolph.
The most direct attack on the problem of African American disenfranchisement came in 1965. Prompted by reports of continuing discriminatory voting practices in many Southern states, President Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a southerner, urged Congress on March 15, 1965, to pass legislation “which will make it impossible to thwart the 15th Amendment.” He reminded Congress that “we cannot have government for all the people until we first make certain it is government of and by all the people.”
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982, abolished all remaining deterrents to exercising the right to vote and authorized federal supervision of voter registration where necessary. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the act involving federal oversight of voting rules in nine states.(1 vote)
- Why was in all the amendments hated?(1 vote)
- I'm sure that there are people who hate each one, like people who hate the freedom of religion in the first, or the freedom to have guns in the second, and on and on. There are probably people who hate the freedom from enslavement in the 13th. Is that what you're asking?(2 votes)
- Was the Reconstruction called the Reconstruction in the 1800s?(1 vote)
- The region in question had once been "constructed". Then, in the war, it was "destroyed". To take anything that has been destroyed and to build it back up again is a process known as "reconstruction". The era was named after the process.(1 vote)
I'm Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute and we're here with our third lesson on the Reconstruction Amendments and I'm with Jeffrey Rosen the CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia so now we get to the Fifteenth Amendment first let's put it on the timeline when did it happen passed by Congress February 26 1869 and ratified February 3rd 1870 and we call these a Reconstruction Amendments but let's get the whole timeline straight reconstruction basically begins with the end of the Civil War in April 1865 and pretty much ends with the end of Ulysses us grants presidency at the beginning of 1877 when Ruth of Hayes takes over it's that about right that's exactly right the compromise of 1876 which gives he's the presidency and the deal is that the southern democrats agreed to support Hayes in exchange for the end of reconstruction so reconstruction was a big broad thing that helped change the way the laws were applied in the south but at the core were these three amendments right they are the mark that was left in the Constitution constitutionalizing the vision of the Reconstruction Republicans so let's get to the 15th what does it say it says the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race color or previous condition of servitude in other words freed slaves could vote in theory so what well first of all why was it necessary wasn't that an obvious thing it was necessary because the 14th amendment which we talked about last time only protected civil rights not political rights this was a distinction that was important to the Reconstruction Republicans they thought that although a citizen of Maryland could go to Virginia and make contracts the sames Maryland citizen couldn't go to Virginia and vote in Virginia elections or on Virginia juries and therefore all section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment also seems to anticipate that southern states might deny African Americans the right to vote but reduce their apportionment in Congress accordingly that's why even though the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equality of civil rights it took the Fifteenth Amendment to guarantee the quality of the political right of voting now you said in theory it allowed freed slaves about why just in theory because soon after the 15th members past southern states did their darndest to disenfranchise African Americans by ruses and others stratagems they passed grandfather clauses that prohibited people from voting if they hadn't been registered before the Civil War they passed poll taxes that made it impossible for African Americans to afford to cast a vote and the Supreme Court in a series of decisions some of them written by liberal heroes like justice Oliver Wendell Holmes upheld these appalling stratagems so in practice African Americans could not meaningfully vote in many southern states until after the civil rights movement of the 1960s it really took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 meaningfully to give African Americans the right to vote that they were promised more than a century earlier under what ground did Oliver Wendell Holmes and others sort of overturn what is the clear intent of this amendment well it was not it was an amazing decision it was called Giles the Giles decision and Holmes basically said only formal forms of disenfranchisement sir prohibited prohibited by the amendments ruses that have the effect of disenfranchisement aren't covered and then he said basically if the southerners are perpetrating a fraud on African American citizens the court can't be a party to the fraud by pursuing to strike it down it was really striking another time when was that decision that was soon after it was in 1870 soon after that so pretty much these reconstruct or at least the Fifteenth Amendment is undermined or at least made irrelevant within ten years of passage this was the time of Jim Crow beginning to rise up it was the time that the court upheld a railroad segregation in Plessy versus Ferguson it's such a tragic story it was it was also a time when the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which had been passed to guarantee the quality in accommodations and access to public places so you have this shining promise of Reconstruction and botted in these amendments but very quickly southern states act to deny the promise with their laws and the Supreme Court just repeatedly and relentlessly sides with the south and against the intention of the throughout the 1870s and it's not just the south now it's a Supreme Court as well throughout the 1870s you said Plessy vs. Ferguson that basically says what that's by 1890 and that says that railroad segregation where southern states are compelling railroad carriages to separate blacks and whites is perfectly consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment that there was a stirring dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan saying that the Constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens Thurgood Marshall read Harlan's dissent before arguing Brown versus Board of Education and it wasn't until 1954 that the Supreme Court essentially overturns Plessy and recognizes that segregation is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment es2 the 1890s we pretty much have the undermining of at least the Fifteenth Amendment and somewhat the Equal Protection Clause and it's almost a hundred years how does it happen 100 years later we have the Voting Rights Act what else I suppose it really began after World War two when African Americans served with whites honorably in the war and Major League Baseball was integrated and public opinion about segregation began to change when the Roosevelt and Truman administration's argued against segregation and by the time the Court struck down school segregation in 1854 repudiating the doctrine of separate but equal public opinion was nationally against segregation 54% of the country opposed segregation in 1954 and explain what the phrase separate but equal how does that come about well it came about I suppose from Plessy versus Ferguson which recognized that you couldn't have completely unequal railroad carriages or facilities but said it was fine to separate blacks and whites because if anyone assumed that there was any intention to degrade african-americans that was just their construction you know as long as the railroad carriages were basically the same then there was no inequality Brown versus Board of Education repudiated that unconvincing ruse and recognized that both the purpose and effect of segregation was to stigmatize and degrade african-americans as inferior and less worthy than whites and so what we have are these three Reconstruction Amendments passed between 1865 and 1870 and they really come into full force exactly a century later with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the other civil rights acts of the 1960's is that about right that's exactly right and that reminds us that any notion we have that our rights come mostly from the Supreme Court is not consistent with history because although we thought a civil war and passed these three heroic constitutional amendments it wasn't until the people of the United States rose up in the civil rights movement to actually make these rights a reality thank you Jeffrey wasn't thank you