Following the Civil War, there were several amendments to the United States Constitution that granted slaves their freedom, along with other rights of citizenship. These amendments proved to be extremely influential in the development of civil rights, contributing to the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875. These acts however, would later be struck down in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883 in the Supreme Court. Below you will find several examples of how segregation slowly developed from the legislative side.
Amendment 14 (July 9, 1868), U.S. Constitution
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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. (Found here)
1. What is the date of this amendment?
2. Who is able to be a citizen according to this amendment?
3. How many of the slaves during the civil war were born in the United States?
4. What is meant by the term “privileges and immunities”?
5. Do all people of the right to “life, liberty, or property”?
6. What is meant by equal protection of the laws?
7.Why do you think this amendment was created?
8. Do you think that this amendment completely protected recently freed slaves from discrimination and ill treatment? Why or why not?
Amendment 15 (February 3, 1870), U.S. Constitution
Section 1. 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. (Found here)
1. What right is this amendment addressing?
2. Does it specify which race?
3. Why would the right to vote need to be specifically addressed?
4. Who cannot deny a person the right to vote?
5. Does the amendment’s specificity about what cannot prevent a person from voting allow for an interpretation that different, unmentioned things could be allowed?
The Civil Rights Act of 1875
Chap. 114. — An act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights. Whereas, it is essential to just government we recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political; and it being the appropriate object of legislation to enact great fundamental principles into law:
Therefore, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal and enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude. (Found here)
1. Which citizens does this act protect?
2. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that equality and justice are provided to all citizens?
3. How does this act extend the liberties and rights not specifically mentioned in the 14th Amendment? (List what rights this act guarantees)
4. This act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court because it said that the federal government did not have the authority to guarantee such rights. Who do you think should guarantee these civil rights?
5. This anti-segregation act preceded the Plessy decision, which legalized segregation. What do you think caused this reversal of opinion?