Reconstruction Memorial How did the amendments created during Reconstruction impact African American rights?

Introduction: President Lincoln began the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War had ended, which lasted from 1865-1877. The purpose of this period was to readmit the Confederate states into the Union, ultimately unifying the United States once again. Reconstruction increased equality for African Americans, granting them more economic, political, and social rights, yet racial tensions continued. This raises the question of how did the amendments created during Reconstruction impact African American rights. While some may believe that the amendments created during Reconstruction only benefited African Americans, they had positive and negative effects on equality and social status of the newly freed former slaves.

14th Amendment

The 14th amendment was passed by Congress in June 1866 and was ratified by the states on July 9, 1868. This amendment granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States," giving those who were formerly enslaved rights and privileges. African Americans were guaranteed due process as well. This amendment led to more equality for African Americans. African Americans have fought for rights and equality for a while, seen in the former slaves serving in the Union army. African Americans have participated in society in various ways to show that they are equal to other human beings and should be given the same privileges. They wanted fair treatment and were resilient to obtain the rights, such as speaking out publicly or writing articles and books. Frederick Douglass was an African-American social reformer who fought for freedom and equality. This amendment being ratified and implemented was a successful shift towards giving African Americans more rights and establishing equality among all people regardless of their race. The 14th amendment has been used in court as a source to fight segregation and unjust treatment towards minorities. This amendment ended Black Codes.

Black Codes

The 13th amendment abolished slavery and freed the enslaved African Americans. However, this led to negative effects on the equality and social status of African Americans. Black Codes were implemented by Southern states, formerly a part of the Confederacy, from 1865 to 1866. These laws were created in order to restrict the African American's freedom and rights, ultimately with the goal of ensuring white supremacy. Black Codes limited: the jobs the African Americans could hold, the right to own land, and freedom to testify in court. These laws affected the newly freed African Americans by forcing them to sign yearly labor contracts. Even though these laws were terminated by the 14th amendment, they contributed to racism and led to some people viewing African Americans as socially inferior. There still is a lingering resentment towards African Americans today, showing a "failure" of Reconstruction. African Americans still face prejudice and social inequality by some people. Additionally, the Ku Klux Klan was created by individuals who advocated for white supremacy and opposed African Americans.

15th amendment

The 15th amendment was ratified in 1870 and gave all citizens of the U.S. the right to vote. It stated that voters "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." This amendment was not completely implemented for almost a century, as southern states that were formerly a part of the Confederacy used literacy tests and poll taxes to restrict and limit African Americans from voting. The majority of African Americans living in the South were registered to vote due to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This amendment that was created during Reconstruction represents the legacy of the era as it was the beginning of more reform and laws being passed to increase the right to vote to all persons in the United States. The 15th amendment was the stepping stone towards giving everyone the right to vote and have a say in their country's government. It served as a source of inspiration for the 19th amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote. As African American males wanted equality and the same privileges as the whites, women protested, wrote books, and advocated for equality. Ultimately, the implementation of the 15th amendment raised social ideas for equality for all, regardless of gender and race.

Conclusion: The amendments created during Reconstruction had varying effects on African Americans; there were both positive and negative impacts on African Americans economically, socially, and politically. With the liberation of African Americans, the formerly enslaved people were able to obtain various jobs, but were sometimes restricted by whites on how much land they could own. African Americans were able to gain more rights, the males were allowed to vote, and equality was developing among the races. However African Americans continued to receive racial prejudice and unfair treatment by people who viewed them as inferior. Some African Americans were obtain to obtain positions in government offices. The social tensions between African Americans and other races can be seen in the present day. There has been multiple accounts of white police officers unjustly shooting African Americans. This has led to the movement of Black Lives Matter, as many people want African Americans to be treated fairly, and protests and rallies have occurred across the United States.

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