The Legacy of Reconstruction How the Civil War's Aftermath shaped Justice in America

"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

-14th Amendment to the US constitution

The 14th amendment was the first great stride in Justice during the reconstruction. The amendment firmly asserts that the right of due process must be extended to every citizen of the United States. This amendment left the freed slaves hopeful that justice would come to them.

Sadly justice was further delayed. The supreme court was a large restraint on productive policies during the reconstruction and routinely sided with the south. The court struck down multiple civil rights laws and even nullified the crimes of racially motivated whites. The most impactful of the courts decisions was Plessy vs. Ferguson. In Plessy, the court ruled that segregation was constitutional on the condition of "separate but equal." This ruling hindered civil rights for decades to come.

Protester attacked by dogs in Birmingham Alabama

It can be argued that the reconstruction didn't truly end until the civil rights movement of post World War II America. The reconstruction left a legacy of injustice for African Americans. It took many decades for America to overcome the systemic injustice that plagued our system and some argue that the fight is still ongoing. It is sad to look back and reflect that the triumph of the Union and abolition of slavery was immediately succeeded by the re-entrenchment of institutional racism in America.

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