Reconstruction Amendments

The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution,[1] adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War. The last time the Constitution had been amended was with the Twelfth Amendment more than 60 years earlier in 1804. The Reconstruction amendments were important in implementing the Reconstruction of the American South after the war. Their proponents saw them as transforming the United States from a country that was (in Abraham Lincoln's words) "half slave and half free" to one in which the constitutionally guaranteed "blessings of liberty" would be extended to the entire populace, including the former slaves and their descendants.

The Thirteenth Amendment (proposed in 1864 and ratified in 1865) abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except for those duly convicted of a crime.[2] The Fourteenth Amendment (proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868) addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws for all persons.[3] The Fifteenth Amendment (proposed in 1869 and ratified in 1870) prohibits discrimination in voting rights of citizens on the basis of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."[4] All races, regardless of prior slavery, could vote in some states of the early United States, such as New Jersey, provided that they could meet other requirements, such as property ownership.

These amendments were intended to guarantee freedom to former slaves and to establish and prevent discrimination in certain civil rights to former slaves and all citizens of the United States. The promise of these amendments was eroded by state laws and federal court decisions over the course of the 19th century. In 1876 and later, some states passed Jim Crow laws that limited the rights of African-Americans. Important Supreme Court decisions that undermined these amendments were the Slaughter-House Cases in 1873, which prevented rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment's privileges or immunities clause from being extended to rights under state law; and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 which originated the phrase "separate but equal" and gave federal approval to Jim Crow laws. The full benefits of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments were not realized until the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lincoln and Johnsond
A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled "The 'Rail Splitter' at Work Repairing the Union". The caption reads (Johnson): Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever!! (Lincoln): A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended!

Thirteenth Amendment

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Text of the 13th Amendment

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 8, 1864, and, after one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by all but three Union states (the exceptions were Delaware, New Jersey, and Kentucky), and by a sufficient number of border and "reconstructed" Southern states, to be ratified by December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed it to have been incorporated into the federal Constitution. It became part of the Constitution 61 years after the Twelfth Amendment, the longest interval between constitutional amendments to date.[5]

Slavery had been tacitly enshrined in the original Constitution through provisions such as Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, commonly known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, which detailed how each state's total slave population would be factored into its total population count for the purposes of apportioning seats in the United States House of Representatives and direct taxes among the states. Although many slaves had been declared free by Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their legal status after the Civil War was uncertain.

Fourteenth Amendment

The two pages of the Fourteenth Amendment in the National Archives

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The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was proposed by Congress on June 13, 1866. By July 9, 1868, it had received ratifications by the legislatures of the required number of states in order to officially become the Fourteenth Amendment. On July 20, 1868, Secretary of State William Seward certified that it had been ratified and added to the federal Constitution. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to treatment of freedmen following the war. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by Southern states, which were forced to ratify it in order to return their delegations to Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973), regarding abortion, and Bush v. Gore (2000), regarding the 2000 presidential election.

The second, third, and fourth sections of the amendment are seldom, if ever, litigated. The fifth section gives Congress enforcement power. The amendment's first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had held that Americans descended from Africans could not be citizens of the United States. The Privileges or Immunities Clause has been interpreted in such a way that it does very little. While "Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment reduces congressional representation for states that deny suffrage on racial grounds," it was not enforced after southern states disfranchised blacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (see below, at Fifteenth Amendment).[6] While Northern Congressmen in 1900 raised objections to the inequities of southern states being apportioned seats based on total populations when they excluded blacks, Southern Democratic Party representatives formed such a powerful block that opponents could not gain approval for change of apportionment.[7]

The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization. This clause has also been used by the federal judiciary to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural requirements that state laws must satisfy.

The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause was the basis for the US Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and its prohibition of laws against interracial marriage, in its ruling in Loving v. Virginia (1967).

This amendment was the foundation of elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (this also relied on the 15th Amendment), legislation to end legal segregation in the states and to provide for oversight and enforcement by the federal government of citizens' rights to vote without discrimination. It has also been referred to for many other court decisions rejecting unnecessary discrimination against people belonging to various groups.

Fifteenth Amendment

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Text of the 15th Amendment

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.

By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the narrow election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black voters was important for the party's future. After rejecting broader versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude on February 26, 1869. The amendment survived a difficult ratification fight and was adopted on March 30, 1870. After blacks gained the vote, the Ku Klux Klan directed some of their attacks to disrupt their political meetings and intimidate them at the polls, to suppress black participation. In the mid-1870s, there was a rise in new insurgent groups, such as the Red Shirts and White League, who acted on behalf of the Democratic Party to violently suppress black voting. While white Democrats regained power in southern state legislatures, through the 1880s and early 1890s, numerous blacks continued to be elected to local offices in many states, as well as to Congress as late as 1894.

From 1890 to 1910, all the states of the former Confederacy passed new constitutions and other laws that incorporated methods to disfranchise blacks, such as poll taxes, residency rules, and literacy tests administered by white staff, sometimes with exemptions for whites via grandfather clauses. When challenges reached the Supreme Court, it interpreted the amendment narrowly, ruling based on the stated intent of the laws rather than their practical effect. The results in voter suppression were dramatic, as voter rolls fells: nearly all blacks, as well as tens of thousands of poor whites in Alabama and other states,[8] were forced off the voter registration rolls and out of the political system, effectively excluding millions of people from representation. Democratic state legislatures passed racial segregation laws for public facilities and other types of Jim Crow restrictions. During this period of political struggle, the rate of lynchings in the South reached an all-time high.

In the twentieth century, the Court interpreted the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915). It took a quarter century to finally dismantle the white primary system in the "Texas primary cases" (1927–1953). With the South having become a one-party region after the disfranchisement of blacks, Democratic Party primaries were the only competitive contests in those states. But Southern states reacted rapidly to Supreme Court decisions, often devising new ways to continue to exclude blacks from voter rolls and voting; most blacks in the South did not gain the ability to vote until after passage of the mid-1960s federal civil rights legislation and beginning of federal oversight of voter registration and district boundaries. The Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964) forbade the requirement for poll taxes in federal elections; by this time five of the eleven southern states continued to require such taxes. Together with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade requiring poll taxes in state elections, blacks regained the opportunity to participate in the U.S. political system.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Foner, Eric. "The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History." Gilderlehrman.org. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012". Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2012.(subscription required)
  2. ^ "America's Historical Documents". National Archives. National Archives and Records Administration. January 25, 2016. Archived from the original on September 26, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Kelly, Martin. "14th Amendment Summary - What Is the Fourteenth Amendment." About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.
  4. ^ "Primary Documents in American History." 15th Amendment to the Constitution: Primary Documents of American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012.
  5. ^ "The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27". United States National Archives. United States National Archives. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Committee at Odds on Reapportionment: Three Reports on the Bill Submitted to the House" (PDF). The New York Times. December 21, 1990. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  7. ^ Valelly, Richard M. (October 2, 2009). The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226845272.
  8. ^ Glenn Feldman, The Disenfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004, pp. 135–136
1874 United States elections

The 1874 United States elections occurred in the middle of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant's second term, during the Third Party System. Members of the 44th United States Congress were chosen in this election. The election took place during the Reconstruction Era, and many Southerners were barred from voting. Colorado joined the union during the 44th Congress. Democrats took control of a chamber of Congress for the first time since the start of the Civil War, winning a huge number of seats from House Republicans. However, the Republicans retained a majority in the Senate. The election marked the first occurrence of the six-year itch phenomenon, in which a president's party lost a large number of Congressional seats during the president's second mid-term election.

The Panic of 1873, a series of scandals, and an unpopular Congressional pay raise all damaged the Republican Party's brand. With the passage of the Reconstruction amendments, the importance of the parties' roles in the Civil War also receded in the minds of many. Though Republicans won governorships in Northern states such as Pennsylvania, the election increased Democratic power in the South, which it later dominated after the end of Reconstruction.In the House, Democrats won massive gains when the Republicans lost a total of 93 seats (the second-largest swing in the history of the House, and the largest House loss by the Republican Party), turning a dominant Republican majority into a similarly-dominant Democratic majority.In the Senate, Democrats picked up several seats, but Republicans retained a commanding majority.

Alfred Avins

Alfred Avins (1935–1999) was an American lawyer, law professor, and dean. He was educated at Columbia Law School, LLB, 1956, and the University of Chicago. His first book was The Law of AWOL (1957). He was best known as a staunch opponent of Civil Rights legislation; he was the author of numerous articles that criticized anti-discrimination legislation or sought to limit its scope. He was also the author of The Reconstruction Amendments' Debates: The Legislative History and Contemporary Debates in Congress on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, 1967), which was designed to show the limited scope of the Reconstruction Amendments to support federal anti-discrimination legislation. It has proven a useful resource for some scholars looking into the history of the Reconstruction Amendments. In the 1970s he was a co-founder of the Delaware Law School. He unsuccessfully sued Delaware Law School in the 1980s. In the 1980s a co-founder of the Northern Virginia Law School. That also resulted in unsuccessful litigation in federal court.

Confederate Revolving Cannon

The Confederate Revolving Cannon was a weapon developed and used during the U.S. Civil War. The weapon had a design similar to that of a revolver pistol, scaled up to the size of a cannon.

Dred Scott

Dred Scott (c. 1799 – September 17, 1858) was an enslaved African American man in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, popularly known as the "Dred Scott case". Scott claimed that he and his wife should be granted their freedom because they had lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for four years, where slavery was illegal and their laws said that slaveholders gave up their rights to slaves if they stayed for an extended period.

In a landmark case, the United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, as the court ruled this to have been unconstitutional, as it would "improperly deprive Scott's owner of his legal property".

While Chief Justice Roger B. Taney had hoped to settle issues related to slavery and Congressional authority by this decision, it aroused public outrage, deepened sectional tensions between the northern and southern states, and hastened the eventual explosion of their differences into the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the post-Civil War Reconstruction Amendments—the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments—nullified the decision.

The Scotts were manumitted by a private arrangement in May 1857. Dred Scott died of tuberculosis a few months later.

Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.

In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of the millions of former black slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black male voters was important for the party's future. On February 26, 1869, after rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude. After surviving a difficult ratification fight, the amendment was certified as duly ratified and part of the Constitution on March 30, 1870.

United States Supreme Court decisions in the late nineteenth century interpreted the amendment narrowly. From 1890 to 1910, southern states adopted new state constitutions and enacted laws that raised barriers to voter registration. This resulted in most black voters and many poor white ones being disenfranchised by poll taxes and discriminatory literacy tests, among other barriers to voting, from which white male voters were exempted by grandfather clauses. A system of white primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.

In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915) and dismantling the white primary system in the "Texas primary cases" (1927–1953). Along with later measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions significantly increased black participation in the American political system. To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

The amendment created a split within the women's suffrage movement over the amendment not prohibiting denying the women the right to vote on account of sex.

Freedman

A freedman or freedwoman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves were freed either by manumission (granted freedom by their owner) or emancipation (granted freedom as part of a larger group). A fugitive slave is one who escaped slavery by fleeing.

History of Kentucky

The prehistory and history of Kentucky spans thousands of years, and has been influenced by the state's diverse geography and central location. It is not known exactly when the first humans arrived in what is now Kentucky. Around 1800 BCE, a gradual transition began from a hunter-gatherer economy to agriculturalism. Around 900 CE, a Mississippian culture took root in western and central Kentucky; by contrast, a Fort Ancient culture appeared in eastern Kentucky. While the two had many similarities, the distinctive ceremonial earthwork mounds constructed in the former's centers were not part of the culture of the latter.

The first permanent European-American settlement, Harrod's Town, was established in 1774. Kentucky was the 15th U.S. state, admitted to the Union on June 1, 1792, after the American Revolutionary War. Kentucky was initially neutral in the American Civil War, but joined the Union side after a Confederate invasion in 1861. The state remained under Union control for most of the war.

John Marshall Harlan

John Marshall Harlan (June 1, 1833 – October 14, 1911) was an American lawyer and politician who served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. He is often called "The Great Dissenter" due to his many dissents in cases that restricted civil liberties, including Plessy v. Ferguson.

Born into a prominent, slave-holding family in Frankfort, Kentucky, Harlan experienced a quick rise to political prominence. When the American Civil War broke out, Harlan strongly supported the Union and recruited the 10th Kentucky Infantry. Despite his opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation, he served in the war until 1863, when he won election as Attorney General of Kentucky. Harlan lost his re-election bid in 1867 and joined the Republican Party in the following year, quickly emerging as the leader of the Kentucky Republican Party. After the 1876 presidential election, newly-inaugurated President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Harlan to the Supreme Court.

Harlan's jurisprudence was marked by his life-long belief in a strong national government, his sympathy for the economically disadvantaged, and his view that the Reconstruction Amendments had fundamentally transformed the relationship between the federal government and the state governments. He dissented in both the Civil Rights Cases (1883) and Plessy v. Ferguson, which permitted state and private actors to engage in segregation. He also wrote dissents in major cases such as Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. (1895), which struck down a federal income tax, United States v. E. C. Knight Co. (1895), which severely limited the power of the federal government to pursue anti-trust actions, and Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States (1911), which established the rule of reason. He was the first Supreme Court justice to advocate the Incorporation of the Bill of Rights, and his majority opinion in Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. City of Chicago (1897) incorporated the Takings Clause. Harlan was largely forgotten in the decades after his death, but many scholars now consider him to be one of the greatest Supreme Court justices of his era.

Mae Street Kidd

Mae Jones Street Kidd (February 8, 1904 – October 20, 1999) was an American businesswoman, civic leader, and a skilled politician during a time when both her gender and her inter-racial background made such accomplishments more difficult than they would be today. She had a distinguished career in public relations, served in the Red Cross during World War II, and was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1968 to 1984, representing Louisville's 41st state legislative district.

During her tenure in elective office, she was known for her sponsorship of landmark legislation. House Bill No. 27 which became law in 1972 created the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) which promotes and finances low-income housing in the state. In 1974, this particular bill was officially designated as the "Mae Street Kidd Act."

Representative Kidd also led the campaign for Kentucky to ratify the United States Constitution's 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery), 14th Amendment (defining citizenship) and 15th Amendment (granting all men the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude). Known collectively as the "Reconstruction Amendments," all three of those constitutional amendments had become law shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War when a sufficient number of lawmakers in other states had ratified them. Representative Kidd offered and secured adoption of a resolution in 1976 to post-ratify the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

Morrison Waite

Morrison Remick "Mott" Waite (November 29, 1816 – March 23, 1888) was an attorney, judge, and politician from Ohio. He served as the seventh Chief Justice of the United States from 1874 to his death in 1888. During his tenure, the Waite Court took a narrow interpretation of federal authority related to laws and amendments that were passed during the Reconstruction Era to expand the rights of freedmen and protect them from attacks by vigilante groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Born in Lyme, Connecticut, Waite established a legal practice in Toledo, Ohio after graduating from Yale University. As a member of the Whig Party, Waite won election to the Ohio Senate. An opponent of slavery, he helped establish the Ohio Republican Party. He served as a counsel in the Alabama Claims and presided over the 1873 Ohio constitutional convention.

After the May 1873 death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, President Ulysses S. Grant underwent a prolonged search for Chase's successor. With the backing of Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano, Grant nominated Waite in January 1874. The nomination of the relatively obscure Waite was poorly received by some prominent politicians, but the Senate unanimously confirmed Waite and he took office in March 1874. Despite some support for his nomination, he declined to run for president in the 1876 election, arguing that the Supreme Court should not serve as a mere stepping stone to higher office. He served on the court until his death of pneumonia in 1888.

Waite did not emerge as an important intellectual force on the Supreme Court, but he was well regarded as an administrator and conciliator. He sought a balance between federal and state power and joined with most other Justices in narrowly interpreting the Reconstruction Amendments. His majority opinion in Munn v. Illinois upheld government regulation of grain elevators and railroads and influenced constitutional understandings of government regulation. He also helped establish the legal concept of corporate personhood in the United States.

National Woman Suffrage Association

The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed on May 15, 1869, in New York City. The National Association was created in response to a split in the American Equal Rights Association over whether the woman's movement should support the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Its founders, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, opposed the Fifteenth Amendment unless it included women's right to vote. Men were able to join the organization as members; however, women solely controlled the leadership of the group. The NWSA worked to secure women's enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. Contrarily, its rival, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), believed success could be more easily achieved through state-by-state campaigns. In 1890 the NWSA and the AWSA merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. The amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920, as the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. It followed the recommendation of the Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett (1875), in which a unanimous Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment did not confer the right to vote on any citizen, male or female, and that an amendment was needed to change state laws denying women the right to vote. Since the 1860s, an increasing number of states had given women the right to vote, but several states still denied women the right to vote at the time the amendment was ratified.

The Nineteenth Amendment was originally introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Forty-one years later, in 1919, Congress submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states a year later, with Tennessee's ratification being the last needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted.

Reconstruction Acts

The Reconstruction Acts, or Military Reconstruction Acts, (March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 428-430, c.153; March 23, 1867, 15 Stat. 2-5, c.6; July 19, 1867, 15 Stat. 14-16, c.30; and March 11, 1868, 15 Stat. 41, c.25) were four statutes passed during the Reconstruction Era by the 40th United States Congress addressing requirement for Southern States to be readmitted to the Union. The actual title of the initial legislation was "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States" and it was passed on March 4, 1867. Fulfillment of the requirements of the Acts was necessary for the former Confederate States to be readmitted to the Union from military and Federal control imposed during and after the American Civil War. The Acts excluded Tennessee, which had already ratified the 14th Amendment and had been readmitted to the Union.

Samuel Tilden 1876 presidential campaign

The 1876 U.S. presidential election occurred at the twilight of Reconstruction and was between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. After an extremely heated election dispute, a compromise was eventually reached where Hayes would become U.S. President in exchange for the end of Reconstruction and a withdrawal of U.S. federal troops from the South.

Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.

Since the American Revolution, states had divided into states that allowed or states that prohibited slavery. Slavery was implicitly permitted in the original Constitution through provisions such as Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, commonly known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, which detailed how each slave state's enslaved population would be factored into its total population count for the purposes of apportioning seats in the United States House of Representatives and direct taxes among the states. Though many slaves had been declared free by President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain. On April 8, 1864, the Senate passed an amendment to abolish slavery. After one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by nearly all Northern states, along with a sufficient number of border states up to the death of Lincoln, but approval came with President Andrew Johnson, who encouraged the "reconstructed" Southern states of Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia to agree, which brought the count to 27 states, and caused it to be adopted before the end of 1865.

Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South. In contrast to the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law, but has been used to strike down peonage and some race-based discrimination as "badges and incidents of slavery." The Thirteenth Amendment applies to the actions of private citizens, while the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments apply only to state actors. The Thirteenth Amendment also enables Congress to pass laws against sex trafficking and other modern forms of slavery.

Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government

The Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government was a state agency created by the Virginia legislature in 1956, with the mission of promoting "constitutional government" in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. The Commission brought together leading Virginia writers, journalists, lawyers, and politicians who wrote pamphlets and books opposing integration of the public schools, federal civil rights statutes, and recent Supreme Court decisions. The Commission was headed by David J. Mays, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, and James J. Kilpatrick. The Commission maintained an active publication schedule until 1967.

Their publications included Civil Rights and Federal Powers, Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs, The Right Not to Listen, Did the Court Interpret or Amend?, and Alfred Avins, The Reconstruction amendments' debates : the legislative history and contemporary debates in Congress on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

War Democrat

War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were members of the Democratic Party who supported the Union and rejected the policies of the Copperheads (or Peace Democrats). The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy and supported the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln when the American Civil War broke out a few months after his win in the 1860 presidential election.

Wisconsin in the American Civil War

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, the northwestern state of Wisconsin raised 91,379 soldiers for the Union Army, organized into 53 infantry regiments, 4 cavalry regiments, a company of Berdan's sharpshooters, 13 light artillery batteries and 1 unit of heavy artillery. Most of the Wisconsin troops served in the Western Theater, although several regiments served in Eastern armies, including three regiments within the famed Iron Brigade. 3,794 were killed in action or mortally wounded, 8,022 died of disease, and 400 were killed in accidents. The total mortality was 12,216 men, about 13.4 percent of total enlistments.

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