Paper: A Discussion on Life in the United States after the 13th and 14th Amendments

Douglass met with Johnson to show him the need for changes in the southern state governments. The president told the people that he intended to support the interests of southern whites and to block voting rights for blacks. Douglass and Johnson parted, both saying that they would take their cases to the American people. (Pgs. 40-45) With President Johnson's supporters greatly outnumbered, in June 1866, Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The heart of Reconstruction was laid out in two pieces, the 14th Amendment and the Reconstruction Act. The 14th Amendment was designed to protect the rights of Southern blacks and restrict the political power of former Confederates. It added into the Constitution the definition of citizenship that was passed into the Civil Rights Bill. It banned states from not giving African Americans "the privileges or immunities of citizens" or depriving "any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law". Also, it encouraged Southern states to allow blacks to vote. Finally, it banned former officials who had rebelled against the Union from holding public office and denied both Confederate war debts and claims of former slaveholders to expenses for the loss of their slaves. The Reconstruction Act was passed in March 1867 over President Johnson's veto and was strengthened by three other acts passed later the same year. It provided for the organization of governments in all former Confederate states except Tennessee. (Outline of Civil War, Internet source) We can see that because of the persistence of abolitionists like Fredrick Douglas and his persistent effort that African Americans were given new life. Because of the efforts of Douglas and other anti- slavery people, blacks were finally considered citizens and had the same rights as whites. The 13th and 14th Amendments played principle roles in the southern reconstruction era....